Per usual, very important stuff from Rand Fishkin in Google + Bing Confirm that Twitter/Facebook Influence SEO:
As of yesterday, both Bing and Google have confirmed (via an excellent interview by Danny Sullivan) that links shared through Twitter and Facebook have a direct impact on rankings (in addition to the positive second-order effects they may have on the link graph). This has long been suspected by SEOs (in fact, many of us posited it was happening as of November of last year following Google + Bing's announcements of partnerships with Twitter), but getting this official confirmation is a substantive step forward.
Does this mean that you can "tweet" and "Like" your way to the top of Google's organic results? Unequivocally, no. However, this is yet one more reason that business owners, like legal professionals, shouldn't ignore social media and networking or dismiss it as kids' stuff.
Unfortunately, this revelation will probably mean an increase in phone calls, emails, and other forms of solicitation from "social seo experts" claiming to be able to get clients for attorneys by blasting out huge amounts of tweets and Likes. Fortunately (or at least hopefully), Google is much more sophisticated than that (although in light of recent Googbarrassment, one begins to wonder).
It also probably means that we are likely to see an influx of "spam tweets" and "spam Likes" flooding our social circles.
Nevertheless, the real takeaway from this validation is that participation in the social web is playing an increasing role in search engine visibility. While some legal marketing professionals believe that Twitter is a complete waste of time for lawyers, others believe, "you'd have to be flat out nuts these days not to be monitoring real time conversation on Twitter mentioning your firm, clients, competition, and keywords & phrases related to the niche in which you practice."
Like everything else in life, finding the right balance for effective participation will present a challenge that each individual legal professional will have to address for themselves. Like it or not, the social and local web are here, probably to stay.
Even those that have been skeptical about the effectiveness of social media and social networking for their law practice are now forced to face the simple fact that social signals will impact their precious Google rankings.