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“Information gain” - the latest SEO buzz term your law firm needs to know about

 


“Information gain” - the latest SEO buzz term your law firm needs to know about

The world of SEO never stays still, and if you’re serious about taking your law firm higher up in Google’s search results, you need to know what’s hot and how to make the most of it!

“Information gain” is a term that’s very much on the lips of a lot of SEO professionals. So, how do you take this buzz term and turn it into something that brings sustainable success to your business?

The three pillars of information gain

Information gain is often discussed in three main subject areas, which can spark a little bit of confusion.

  1. Machine Learning
  2. Google Patent
  3. Information Foraging Theory

In the context of machine learning, information gain is used to train decision trees. This process involves selecting the best attributes to split data, helping algorithms make more accurate predictions. We’ll be leaving the machine learning pillar out of this SEO analysis.

The other two areas - Google Patent and Information Foraging Theory - are of significance to our discussion, though!

What is Google Patent?

Google Patent (started in 2022) introduced the concept of an information gain score, which measures the originality and value of content.

This score helps Google prioritise unique and informative content over rehashed or copied material.

For law firms, this means that producing high-quality, original content is crucial for ranking well in search results.

What is Information Foraging Theory?

Peter Pirolli's Information Foraging Theory likens the way humans search for information to how animals forage for food. This theory suggests that humans seek to maximise information gain while minimising effort.

Understanding this behaviour can help professional services create content that is both accessible, easily digestible and highly informative.

Why Information Foraging matters for law firm SEO

If you’ve read our earlier blog on Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE), you’ll know that the search engine giant is integrating generative AI to provide intuitive, natural, and contextually rich search results. So, rather than getting a list of links, users will now get answers tailored to the intent of their search.

What this also means is that we’re now optimising for AI, not simply for Google. We need to make sure that viewers get content that’s easily discoverable and highly relevant.

According to a Google's report, the abundance of information online can overwhelm users, making it difficult for them to make confident decisions. As a law firm, you want to ensure that you’re answering a user’s immediate query and then making it easy for them to take the next step, i.e. get in touch or book a consultation.

Understanding the rate of information gain

In the context of Information Foraging, the rate of gain is defined as:

Rate of gain = information value / cost of obtaining that information

Both search engines and humans incur costs when processing information. For search engines, these costs include indexing, retrieving and serving up information. For humans, the costs are cognitive, involving the effort and time spent finding and understanding content.

Ultimately, we all want to get as much information as we can in as little time as possible. That’s the objective here!

So, how do we go about that at the moment? Usually, the process looks something like the following:

  1. We start by identifying the information we need.
  2. We then decide on where we’re going to get this information. It could be, for example, a review website, news site, or social media platform.
  3. We search for the information on our chosen platform. Often this is Google, so we’ll go and type in the keywords in the search engine.
  4. We look for signals that we’ve found good information, from page titles to reviews, and we click on sites and scan information to decide whether or not it’s worth it.
  5. We consume information from various sources before we make our decisions. We click on different sites and read various pieces of information.

It’s the final step that Google has referred to as the “messy middle” part of our search process. It’s this phase that we’re looking to optimise.

Where to begin with information gain optimisation

Law firm websites must be structured to facilitate easy information retrieval.

Yes, we all know that quick load times matter. Without them, people will leave your site! But what if someone lands on your site and is overloaded with information and cannot quickly digest what they need? You guessed it; they’ll probably leave too!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to optimise your content structure:

1. Content structure

Ensure your page layout is intuitive. For instance, a law firm’s service page should be organised with clear headings, subheadings and bullet points to guide users. Consider using faceted search options to help users find specific information quickly.

Example:

  • H2: Legal Services
  • H3: Family Law
  • H3: Corporate Law
  • H3: Criminal Defense

2. Information architecture

Present key information early in your content. Start with a summary of what the reader should expect in the entire piece of content.

Example:

When is the best time to hire a divorce lawyer?

The best time to hire a divorce lawyer is as soon as you decide to pursue a divorce to ensure your interests are protected from the outset.

3. Content design

Incorporate visual elements like infographics, bullet lists, tables and images to convey complex information quickly. This not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also improves information retention.

Example:

  • Use diagrams to explain legal processes.
  • Include client testimonials and case reviews to build trust.

4. Content uniqueness

Differentiate your content by offering unique insights and expert opinions. Avoid generic information (where possible of course) that can be found elsewhere. Highlight your firm’s specific expertise and success stories to stand out.

Example:

  • Share case studies (without breaching confidentiality) that demonstrate your firm's approach and successes.
  • Provide expert commentary on recent legal developments.

Embracing information gain for law firm SEO

Understanding and implementing information gain principles can significantly enhance your SEO efforts. By focusing on providing high-value, easily accessible information, you can improve both your search engine rankings and user satisfaction.

For law firms, this means:

  • structuring content to be clear and navigable;
  • providing high-value, unique information quickly and efficiently; and
  • enhancing UX with a focus on readability.

By embracing these strategies, you can ensure your content not only ranks well but also effectively serves the needs of your audience, building trust and driving conversions.


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