Tailoring Your Firm’s Website to the Blended Search Landscape

In our previous post, we introduced blended search. In the past few years, search engines have been developing new techniques for delivering results that searchers will find more useful. They’re doing this by drawing information from multiple online sources -- not just websites. Thus the term “blended.”

In traditional SEO, the goal is, of course, a site designed to attract a search engine’s attention. After all, you want to rank as high as possible on a search engine results page (SERP). But as we discussed last time, with blended search, your firm is less likely to appear at the top of a legal consumer’s SERP. So what’s the point of SEO? Or even a well-designed website?

In fact, even with blended search, your firm’s website is still a powerful attractor of business. What makes it different is this: Your website is just one part of your online marketing strategy. But it’s still a very important one.

Your Website’s Role in Blended Search

Think of your site as a publishing platform. In other words, you can think of your site as more than the “home” for your firm’s identity. It’s also the hub for all the published material you and your firm creates and participates in. That can include blog posts and articles you write, as well as links to articles in newspapers, magazines and journals where you or an associate is quoted.

Published materials boost your marketing efforts in a couple of crucial ways. One, it positions you and your firm as experts in your practice specialty.

Take blog posts, for instance. When written in a style that’s both conversational and informative,  they’re an excellent way to convince searchers of your expertise: “This person looks like they might know a lot about divorce, and that blog he wrote about active military servicemen was exactly what I’m going through.”

At this point, you might be thinking: “Wait a minute. Those articles, blogs, and other published materials don’t appear on my firm’s website. So convince me that a site is still important in blended search.”

Your Site Still Has Power

It’s important because it’s still your website that’s most likely to appear in a legal search. What online references do is help make your firm more attractive to search engines. Those references aren’t only articles and posts your firm has written. They also include quotes that you or a partner has given to a journalist for an article, for instance. The more “outside” sources refer to your firm and link to your website, the more attention search engines will give your firm.

In other words, with blended search, your website and your overall web presence are the means of getting search engines’ attention. And with blended search, your SEO extends beyond your website. It includes everything online that can connect you to your target market. Again, that includes blog posts, articles, directories and videos. And yes, it includes your website.

To repeat, what search engines want to do is provide a searcher with information he or she is most likely to find informative and usable. The more online assets you can create, the more credibility a search engine will give to the information your assets offer.

Once you’ve identified these online assets, you can optimize them to attract attention from search engines and legal consumers. You can learn more about how your firm can profit from blended search in a new white paper from Thomson Reuters, “Is Your Firm Ready for the New World of Search?” It’s free, and you can download here.

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