At least Daily Express readers are still searching for Madeleine McCann

 by Martin Belam, 15 February 2009

I have a little Perl script that runs each morning, and checks what the popular searches are on the Daily Express website.

Daily Express

I know it is a little childish, but it just amuses me so much that they are obviously editorially chosen rather than a real reflection of what users are doing, and, more importantly, that they seldom ever change.

Princess Diana missing from the list

I got a little bit excited in April last year when they suddenly dropped 'Princess Diana' from the list. The script has been running for a year now, so I'm in a position to produce a table of the most popular search terms on the Daily Express website over the last 365 days.

Search term Appearances
Madeleine McCann365
Sunday express365
Kate Middleton365
meal offer122
Princess Diana74
radio 222
madeline mccann1

So no one-track mind from the editorial team populating that search promo then!

Incidentally, the blank space in my table isn't a mistake - for 202 days of the year the box had a random empty line in the middle and nobody seemed to notice...

Daily Express popular searches


Was wondering, is it possible that rather than being editorially chosen, the links are "self-fulfilling"... ie, by clicking on any of the results, a new search is generated. Its therefore very hard for a new search term to break into the top 10 because the current top 10 always receive lots of traffic (perhaps even from search engine spiders, etc).

I'm sure it is possible, but it doesn't seem very likely. The top search list only appears on the search results page, and so the chances are that the majority of searchers enter their terms from the home page or an article page, not as a second search having seen the list. It seems incredible to me that terms like Olympics, Obama, credit crunch, recession, Brand and Ross, and baby p were not search for more on the Express site than 'offers' and 'Kate Middleton'

This is unfortunate, think of all the excellent real searches we are missing out on! Hopefully the Daily Express will see this and hire you to implement a widget displaying the actual searches.

Of course you'd have to ask yourself why, if it is editorially driven, these results would show items such as 'Crossword' which really wouldn't do it much good, given it's essentially off site content.

Perhaps it's more possible than you'd think, that these are in fact genuine results.


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