Google AI Overviews: What This Could Mean for Law Firms

As both a legal marketing expert and a legal founder myself for two businesses, I am hyper-aware of all changes that affect the online reach of businesses in the legal sector. Only recently I posted on LinkedIn about changes as its ever-shifting algo moves it increasingly into a pay to play space and the introduction of the Company Page Premium.  Then this weekend, there was the revelation that Google will be moving to AI overviews.

What does it all mean for legal professionals?

Read on, and I will tell you all I know…

A Brief History of Google Search

Google’s search engine has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1998. Over the years, it’s evolved into a sophisticated system and considers numerous factors to deliver the most relevant results. Every tweak to the algorithm sends ripples through the internet, but the latest updates have been more like tidal waves.

The Latest Algorithm Update – Enter AI Overviews

In the last two years, Google has been on a rampage rolling out updates that have fundamentally changed how search results are generated. The latest big shift? AI-generated answers, known as “AI Overviews.’ Google plans to change from a search engine into a know-it-all answering machine with Google’s CEO declaring, “Google Search is generative AI at the scale of human curiosity.” AI Overviews aim to cut through the search clutter by providing direct answers to user queries, reducing the need to visit external websites.

Convenient? Yes.

Devastating for content-driven websites? Also, yes.

 Implications of the Algorithm Change

Over the past two years, Google’s updates have been designed to make Search more helpful by prioritising high-quality, original content over SEO-optimiaed, low-value content. But has a shift to “helpful content” really been the shift it promised? Or are we still having to sift through low grade spam to get to the golden stuff? Some small businesses who have built their online presence on helpful content are seeing their site’s traffic plummet following the updates, with search terms that used to bring results sending users to other, larger glossier sites with information that is not as accurate.

According to data from Semrush cited in this BBC article, even established sites saw significant drops in traffic following the update. Meanwhile, user-generated platforms like Reddit and Quora and my favourite for all things legal marketing, LinkedIn, have seen substantial increases in visibility, with traffic from Google Search growing by 126%.

AI Overviews: Implications for Law Firms

The legal sector, much like others, relies heavily on online visibility and inbound marketing tactics for potential client enquiries. With Google’s new AI-focused approach, law firms might find their website traffic dwindling even if they maintain high-quality, original content. This means continuing to adapt to ensure continued online presence and engagement.

Well, you didn’t think you could sit still did you?! No way. Not as far as digital marketing is concerned.

A Shift Towards Big Brands

One significant concern is the shift in traffic from small, independent websites to larger, established brands. It does feel sometimes, in the world of small business, the algorithms are being updated to go after small businesses with limited budget and resource specifically. This trend poses a serious challenge for small law firms that rely on organic search traffic to attract clients.

But not all is lost. There is still lots you can do in your law firm or legal business to stay competitive and make sure your content is working for you.

Three Simple Legal Marketing Tips To Take Forward

Diversify, diversify, diversify

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket legal marketers! Diversify your digital marketing strategy by leveraging multiple channels such your own website, LinkedIn, email marketing and yes, even offline events in that thing we call real life. By broadening your reach, you can mitigate the impact of any single platform’s changes. LinkedIn especially presents real opportunities for small law firms and legal businesses when it comes to leveraging the power of your team. Saltmarsh Marketing runs team training to help you be visible online. For more information on how we work with companies on this, take a look at our information on LinkedIn For Legal.

Keep Focussing on High-Quality Content

Despite the challenges of ever-changing algorithms and technology platforms, content is still king. Legal marketers should continue producing expert-written authoritative content that addresses specific legal questions and concerns. This helps with SEO, builds trust with audiences and can also be repurposed for social media and other platforms. Legal marketing strategy, content production and repurposing is something we support legal businesses of all kinds to do at both Saltmarsh Marketing and Helen Squared.

Create a great user experience to keep people on your website

Ensure your website provides an excellent user experience (UX). This includes fast load times, mobile-friendly design, and easy navigation. Google’s algorithm also considers UX factors, so improving these aspects can help maintain or even boost your search rankings. A positive UX encourages visitors to stay longer and engage more with your content.  Saltmarsh Squad specialises in developing websites for law firms and legal businesses that do exactly this!

 The future of search

Google’s algorithm changes signify a new era of AI-driven search experiences and voice search. Whilst there are many challenges in this, there are also opportunities for those who are willing to adapt. The challenge? Keeping your finger on the pulse in terms of what is going on.  It’s within all small businesses’ interests to understand how they can continue to succeed and grow online, investing precious resources on the things that will bring the most return.

Saltmarsh Marketing and HelenSquared provide legal marketing services to all kinds of businesses and individuals in legal to ensure they succeed in an online world that is evolving at speed.  If you fancy a natter about your digital plans, shoot me an email at . You bring the ambition; I’ll bring the expertise.

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