Google’s Biggest Change In 5 Years: What Your Law Firm Should Know

Google just announced “the biggest leap forward in the past five years” for its search engine: an advancement in Google’s understanding of natural language. So when your law firm’s prospective clients enter a query looking for legal services, Google can better grasp the context of what they’re asking.

This is the kind of regular change you have to pay attention to when you own a law firm website—and you need it to attract clients and generate revenue. Search engine optimization (SEO) industry experts say this change means you should make sure your website’s content is focused and organized.

Read this explanation in Search Engine Journal from Roger Montti, an SEO expert who Firmidable team members met recently at the Pubcon international digital marketing conference.

The new Google technology is called BERT (short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers). It’s an algorithm that learns how to interpret the subtleties of language.

“We’re making a significant improvement to how we understand queries, representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search,” Google Vice President of Search Pandu Nayak said in announcing this advance in October.

Nayak acknowledged that, historically, Google hasn’t always interpreted people’s queries perfectly, especially when a question was more complex or conversational.

“That’s one of the reasons why people often use ‘keyword-ese,’ typing strings of words that they think we’ll understand, but aren’t actually how they’d naturally ask a question,” Nayak wrote.

BERT raises the search engine’s sophistication by processing how the words in a sentence relate to each other, not just looking at words in order from beginning to end, he said.

Google has been moving away from its original, robotic use of keywords to favor more natural language for years. That’s why over-packing certain keywords on a page has long been an outdated way to make sure people find your law firm’s website.

The latest change, however, doesn’t mean you should now pack certain longer phrases onto your web pages and try to rank in the search results for those, said the SEO experts in Montti’s article. It does, however, mean it’s more important than ever to have polished writing on your site. Sloppy sites may suffer under BERT, they suggested.

At the Firmidable legal marketing agency, we’re always watching for changes like this so we can give our law firm clients every competitive advantage as the internet evolves. To talk about cutting edge SEO for your law firm, contact us today.

Firmidable has been a national expert in legal marketing for almost 30 years. It brings law firms customized, data-driven marketing strategies and services, including online and traditional media for a wide range of legal practices. From Maine to Hawaii, it has transformed the lives of attorneys—and their clients.

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About the Author: Mark Waller

Mark Waller is the senior writer/editor at Firmidable. He has written book-length websites for law firms, enhanced content on dozens of law firm sites for search engine optimization, written and optimized law firm Paid Search ads and developed scripts for law firm TV ads—helping firms across America grow their caseloads. Before he started in legal marketing, Mark’s writing and communications career included working for a university president and as a local journalist. He was a member of the staff at The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans that won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

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