Have You Noticed What Siri Can Do for a Solo Attorney?
Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.
The iPhone 4S added a much advertised voice-activated feature called “Siri,” which performs tasks that legal blogger Ernie the Attorney called “purely magical” because Siri allows you to avoid typing on that tiny keyboard. Lawyers can speak to Siri to transcribe dictation into an email, a text message or a document. Siri can do web searches or answer any question that the WolframAlpha.com website can calculate. Siri can provide weather forecasts and locate nearby office supply stores or other retail establishments for the lawyer on the go. You can ask Siri what time your dinner engagement is tonight, and then Siri can call your spouse so you can say you’re running late…again.
A busy lawyer can use Siri a bit like a personal assistant that keeps track of your appointments and answers questions you don’t have time to look up. That assumes, of course, that Siri understands you and you get an adequate signal wherever you are. A lawsuit is pending by a New York man alleging that Siri does not perform to the level advertised in television commercials. I have to agree, but it’s still better than typing on a tiny smartphone keyboard. I expect future improvements. One day I will even be able to say “lawyer” to Siri instead of “attorney.” Currently when I say “lawyer,” Siri hears “law year,” “law you’re,” “logger” and even “Liger,” but rarely “lawyer.”
If you have an Android smart phone, many of the same or similar features were available in Voice Actions for Android long before Apple came out with Siri. Samsung has announced a new Siri-like voice activated app “S Voice” on its new Android smartphone Galaxy S III. So, using your smartphone like a personal assistant may be old hat to many solo attorneys. But, have you thought about using Siri (or Voice Actions) as your advertising agency?
Marketing Your Law Practice with Siri
As a solo attorney, would you like to find some new ways to market your services without spending a lot of money? Do you struggle to stand out in the crowd of competitors? Do you have a better chance of getting hired if you are the first lawyer a potential client calls? Are your typical clients under 30 or otherwise avid smartphone users?
If you answered “Yes” to all of those questions, you might get a little bump in business by strategically taking advantage of the increasing use of smartphone searches for business locations and information. Mobile search is a rapidly growing market, with survey respondents indicating that they often make mobile searches even when they have a computer available. This may be your chance to get out in front of your competition, at least for a while.
By way of example, when I told Siri to “find an immigration attorney in Houston,” she found only six of them. When I Googled “immigration attorney in Houston,” on my desktop computer, however, Google reported 949 results, with over a dozen law firms practicing immigration law listed on the first page. It can be very difficult to supplant websites that have already achieved high search engine rankings on Google, but the same law firms don’t necessarily show up on a mobile search by a voice activated app.
Getting Noticed by Siri and Voice Actions for Android
So how could you get to be one of the small number of lawyers turned up by a voice activated search on a smartphone? Here are 3 suggested steps:
- Make sure you have a keyword-rich profile on Google Places and a business account on Yelp. Voice Actions searches Google Places for an appropriate business near the current location of the smartphone at the time of the query. Siri reports listings on Yelp. Entrepreneur online magazine reported that Siri also looks at reviews on Yahoo and listings on localeze.com.
- Ask your happy clients whether they would be willing to post a positive review of your services on Google Places, Yelp and other local review sites. Both Voice Actions and Siri give first listing preferences to the businesses with positive reviews posted, as well as locations near the searching smartphone.
- Optimize local information on your website and in your listings. Make sure Siri can see that your immigration law practice is in Houston, Texas and include your zip code. If possible, include the names of surburban towns and locations, too. It may help you get found in a narrower search naming the suburb.
We can’t really be sure about all the info that Apple or Android phones use to identify local businesses for a voice activated search, but the results are clearly different from desktop computer searches. With mobile searches rapidly increasing, it only makes sense to take advantage of this window of opportunity to get found in a smaller crowd of competitors. The advantage may not last long. The big spending legal advertisers are bound to notice eventually, and their ads will be hard for a solo to compete with.