Popularity Contests in the Legal Blogosphere

by Jamison Koehler on April 16, 2011

Over the past year or so, I have been tracking the ranking of this blog on Justia.com.  Although Justia will not reveal what factors it takes into consideration in developing the rankings, I have always assumed it combined a number of different factors, including traffic to the site and frequency of postings.

Such an assumption was never supported by direct observation, and in fact, based on evidence from my blog alone, there does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to the Justia rankings at all.  The highest ranking I ever achieved – somewhere around 250 – came after I had neglected my blog for a couple of weeks and my numbers had fallen. At the same time, periods of frequent posts and increased traffic saw my blog slip to well over 2,000.

Now, through Keith Lee at An Associate’s Mind, I have learned about the Avvo List which tracks the popularity of 500 blogs using the Alexa traffic rank.  Lee saw his blog jump to #41 of the Avvo list after a mere 6 months of blogging. Writes Lee:  “I don’t bother with other listing services anymore because I don’t know what sort of voodoo they use for their rankings.  For example, Justia.com recently had some obscure state-specific estate blog ranked higher than Althouse – yeah right.  Avvo is transparent because they use Alexa.  Alexa isn’t perfect by any means, but it is an accepted industry standard for measuring traffic.”

I guess I had seen both the Avvo list and the Alexa ratings before but had never really focused on them.  However, self-absorbed blogger that I am, the first thing I did upon reading Lee’s entry was to check out Alexa to see where my blog fit into the scheme of things. I was also curious to see how my blog compared to other blogs I follow.  Here is how the sites from my blogroll stack up.

Name of Blog (Alexa Traffic Ranking)

  1. Simple Justice  (232,838)
  2. MyShingle (311,844)
  3. Popehat (578,385)
  4. Austin Criminal Defense Blog (685,552)
  5. My Law License (981,356)
  6. Defending People (983,010)
  7. Underdog (1,378,706)
  8. A Public Defender (1,480,538)
  9. Norm Pattis (1,687,668)
  10. Not Guilty (1,692,511)
  11. Windy Pundit (2,011,820)
  12. Koehler Law (2,011,842)
  13. Probable Cause (2,543,238)
  14. CrimLaw (2,989,677)
  15. The Trial Warrior (3,193,703)
  16. The Defense Rests (4,137,986)
  17. Gamso – For The Defense (5,412,555)
  18. Chandler Criminal Defense (6,162,411)
  19. In Your Defense (6,235,707)
  20. Infamy or Praise (6,343,701)
  21. Blonde Justice (6,535,407)
  22. Military Underdog (6,954,695)
  23. DA Confidential (7,266,259)
  24. Liberty & Justice for Y’all (8,261,282)
  25. DC Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog (8,860,327)
  26. Chicago Criminal Defense (13,712,119)

Damn that Mark Draughn:  Out of the tens of thousands of website rankings, Windy Pundit edges me out by a mere 22 places.  I better get writing.  As for the fact that a number of high quality blogs, such as Gamso—For the Defense, find themselves so far down on the list, I have only one thing to say:  the circulation of People magazine (3,750,000) is over three times that of The New Yorker (1,062,310).

8 Comments on “Popularity Contests in the Legal Blogosphere

  1. If it makes you feel better, the number 4 blog, overall (as of this moment), Bitter Lawyer, has been defunct since last September. SJ was as high as number 4 at one point, fueled primarily by a massive influx of Asian spammers during a particularly bad time when it was on a backlinking list sold by an SEO spammer.

    I have no idea what metric is valid, or whether a valid metric exists, but I feel confident that Alexa, even if it is the best, is nonetheless meaningless. Placement on the Alexa rankings is evidence of popularity or merit. I have no idea what it is, but it’s hardly something to worry about.

  2. In my case, I pride myself on the lack of both popularity and merit.

  3. J:

    Good grief. You have a lot of time on your hands these days.

  4. Norm: It’s either this or Words with Friends and I can’t take losing in Words anymore.

  5. While Alexa is probably the closest to being accurate, I still wouldn’t put too much faith in it. Like Mark said above, it’s easily gamed. And while It provides a nice metric, it doesn’t exactly do anything for you. Being at the top of what is essentially a high score leader board is a dubious honor. I place way more value on being able to generate interesting conversations with my posts than the number of people who have read them.

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