Jun 20 2008

Scottish advocates websites

In the last year, the majority of advocates stables have established websites (all linked to from this page). The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland reviewed them in March and April 2008.1 This article notes some statistics as to the comparative popularity of stable websites.

Stables do not, of course, disclose their internal statistics, if indeed they keep them at all. My own stable, the Murray Stable, records them using AWStats. These tell us, for example, that our visitors have doubled in the last year; that in May 2008 twenty members pages were visited more often than the most-visited members page in May 2007; that each month about 30% of all visitors bookmark the site; where they come from; and so on. Whether any other stable either keeps or analyses its own statistics I have no idea. There are, however, two fairly-widely used tools to compare the popularity of different sites without access to their internal statistics2.

The first of these is Google PageRank, which Firefox or Internet Explorer users can easily access using the Google Toolbar. This is perhaps not so much a ‘popularity’ as a ‘value’ test; in Google’s words, “Wondering whether a new website is worth your time? Use the Toolbar’s PageRank™ display to tell you how Google assesses the importance of the page you’re viewing.”; andPageRank bars tell you at a glance whether other people on the web consider Google considers a page to be a high-quality site worth checking out”. How Google does this is a trade secret, although the primary test seems to be the extent to which the site is accessed or referred to from other reputable and relevant sites. The home pages of sites are marked from 0 to 10, although a mark higher than 6 is exceptional (Google itself has 10). I am pleased to say this site is at 5, as are the Faculty of Advocates, SLAB, the Journal Online, and the Scottish Law Commission.

These are the Google PageRanks for Scottish advocates stable sites3:

  1. Murray; Axiom; Compass; and Oracle: each at 4
  2. Ampersand: 3
  3. Terra Firma: 1
  4. Westwater; Arnot-Manderson: both at 0.

The second is  Alexa. This relies on tracking software installed by users (said to be in the millions) which records the sites visited. From this, sites are ranked by the frequency of visits, although little-visited sites may not be recorded at all. Although an artificially-precise order is given, this in reality gives only a rough picture.

These are the Alexa traffic rankings for stable sites, with as comparators some other Scottish legal sites, over  the last three months from most-visited to least-visited:

  1. Govan Law Centre: 1,053,888 (i.e. 1,053,887 sites worldwide are calculated to have more traffic)
  2. Journal Online: 1,099,094
  3. Faculty of Advocates: 1,738,867
  4. Scottish Law Commission: 2,605,271
  5. Murray stable: 2,933,657
  6. Firm Magazine: 5,367,465
  7. This site: 7,629,973
  8. Axiom stable: 10,676,591
  9. Compass stable: 11,703,868
  10. Ampersand stable: 14,669,749
  11. Judicial Appointments Board: 14,988,424
  12. Westwater, Arnot Manderson, Terra Firma, and Oracle (as also Instruct Counsel and SCOLAG) had insufficient visits recorded to appear in the statistics at all.

These figures must be read with caution, but should give a reasonably accurate general picture of the comparative popularity of stable websites at this time.

  1. The second of these articles, rather oddly, begins with the now-dead site of the even odder body named ‘Instruct Counsel Ltd’, which was never a stable website at all. [back]
  2. Google Analytics won’t work in this context, as there are insufficient comparable sites. [back]
  3. The Hastie, Connarty, Mackinnon and Black stables have no website. [back]

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