The July issue of Bigger Law Firm magazine features a column by Ryan Conley, Into The Future of SEO.
In it, Conley made a case for citations becoming as important as inbound links. Your law firm should embrace this concept with open arms.
Here is how it works:
1) Smith & Smith, LLP setup their Google+ Local page, connecting the profile to their website, lawexample.com.
2) In their profile, they place themselves in the category of “estate planning lawyers.” Now, Google knows that Smith & Smith, LLP is equal to lawexample.com, a website about estate planning.
In the past, had John or Susan Smith been interviewed by The New York Times, the article would probably mention their name and the law firm's name, but would more than likely not link to the firm's website -- giving the firm great exposure, but absolutely no search engine optimization value. That has changed.
If the firm has a properly-setup Google+ Local profile connected to their website and The New York Times mentions “Smith & Smith, LLP” in an article about estate planning, Google will see that citation as quality endorsement from NYTimes.com to the firm's website, lawexample.com. Even though there is not an actual hyperlink to the firm's website, Google can make the association through the information provided on the Google+ Local page.
Rather than focusing so heavily on inbound links, start thinking about where you can get your firm's name mentioned. Local interviews, other blogs, content networks like JD Supra, news networks like Law Firm Newswire -- all of these will help your firm get citations from other relevant websites.
Think about ways to associate your name with relevant websites and content instead of link quantity. Links are in no way obsolete, but a few strong citations will do more for your ranking than one hundred links from random websites.