Did Michael Jackson’s kids make the Daily Mail the most visited UK newspaper site in June?

The Daily Mail surprisingly overtook the Telegraph and Guardian in the June ABCes – with more unique visitors than any other UK newspaper (this is a cross-post of my original June ABCe analysis on my blog).

However it was only 4th in terms of UK visitors. Figures from Compete.com, which tracks Americans’ internet use, show that, of the 4.7 million unique users the Mail added from May to June, 1.2 million were from the USA. American and other foreign visitors searching for Michael Jackson’s kids – the Mail tops google.com for a search on this – drove this overseas growth.

US traffic to UK newspaper sites

Of the big three UK newspaper sites this is what happened to their US traffic from May to June:

This dramatic increase in traffic, compared to its rivals, from May to June helps explains how the Mail leapfrogged the Guardian and Telegraph.


Google.com was the main referrer to the Mail – responsible for 22.7% of its traffic. More on this below. Next up was drudgereport.com (a large US news aggregation site), followed by Yahoo.com and Facebook.com.

What was behind this rise in US traffic?

So what led to this sudden increase for the Mail? Compete also shows you the main search terms that lead US visitors to sites.

Top 5 search terms that lead US visitors to the Guardian

  • Guardian / the guardian: 2.6%
  • Michael Jackson: 0.9%
  • Swine flu symptoms: 0.6%
  • Susan Boyle: 0.6%

Top 5 search terms that lead US visitors to the Telegraph

  • Michael Jackson: 2.5%
  • Susan Boyle: 0.8%
  • Swine flu symptoms: 0.7%
  • Daily Telegraph: 0.6%
  • Michael Jackson children: 0.5%

Top 5 search terms that lead US visitors to the Daily Mail

  • Daily Mail / Dailymail: 9.9%
  • Michael Jackson (or Jackson’s) children: 2.9%
  • Michael Jackson’s kids: 1.3%

What does this tell us?

compete-keywords-mailThe Guardian’s top 5 search terms accounted for just 4.7% of its search traffic. The Telegraph’s top 5 for 5.1%.

But the Mail’s top 5 accounted for a massive 14.1% – split between searches for its brand name and for Michael Jackson’s kids (and outside the top 5 there may have been many other MJ-related terms).

Its search traffic in June is heavily skewed to these two search terms in the USA – and elsewhere in the world, I think it’s reasonable to presume.

Can this last?

Searches in the USA for ‘Daily Mail’ have been fairly consistent over the last few months according to Google Insights. I don’t know why so many people do this compared to other newspapers.

But I do know that interest in Michael Jackson’s kids is going to die down. This graph shows how there was a huge and sudden surge in searches for searches on his children and kids after he died. The graph shows just two search terms – there are likely to be many others, and so a significant proportion of the Mail’s overseas traffic increase is down to search terms related to Jackson’s offspring.


This increase in searches translates into traffic for the Mail because it is TOP for a search on ‘Michael Jackson children’ at google.com and 3rd for kids (it’s also top in Google India for a search on his children, and India is the next most common source of traffic to the Mail after the UK and USA).

So all this data suggests that the Mail’s top spot in June’s ABCes is built on US and other worldwide search traffic around Jackson’s children – the massive peak in late June and again around his funeral in early July.

Once people stop searching for these terms, this traffic will disappear. The Mail may still top July’s ABCes on the back of this traffic – but it’s hard to believe it will still be top in August.


You can, of course, pick holes in this argument.

The 3 MJ’s kids search terms account for 4.2% of Google traffic, which accounts for 22.7% of 5.2m visitors – so about 50,000 users.

But I think it’s reasonable to assume that there are more search terms outside the top 5, there are other search engines, and that the other sources of traffic, such as people sharing links on Facebook and news aggregators, will also partially be about Jackson’s children. Plus this is the only publicly available data that I’m aware of, and this is the story it seems to be telling.


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