Bing offering publishers money to stay out of Google index?

Mon 23 November 2009 11:00, Bas van den Beld

Bing offering publishers money to stay out of Google index?

When Rupert Murdoch first said he wanted to put his online newspapers behind walls and have users pay for their content the internet community just smiled a little. When Murdoch then suggested he might be blocking Google from indexing his sites the search community laughed: there goes traffic is what many said.

At that time amongst others Jason Calacanis suggested that Bing should step in. They should be trying to become the default search engine for Wall Street Journal articles. That would teach Google. Not many thought this would be a serious option. But reports from the Financial Times now suggest otherwise. Microsoft seems to be actually talking to News Corp. and other publishers. But not to become the default engine, but to pay them to remove their sites from Google’s search index. A remarkable step by Microsoft.

If news sites would be en masse removing their sites from Google that could have a big effect on search for Google. Google gets a lot of traffic from news. If the news wouldn't be there that could seriously damage Google.

According to the Financial Times Microsoft has "approached other big online publishers to persuade them to remove their sites from Google’s search engine."

How big would the disaster be for Google? Let's for a minute assume that the 'large' news sites would pull out of Google. Google would not be indexing them. Would that mean Google would be missing out on the news? No, far from. Google would still be indexing the news through other sites who might refer to the original source.

But Google would lose the original source itself. And that could be very damaging for the credibility of Google. Only 'second hand news' would then be available in Google. In the long run that would damage Google and would probably make people switch to another search engine, like Bing. At least for news. And once you have a searcher over for the news its easier to keep him there for other things too.

Will Google care? According to the FT Google probably says it doesn't care. Google’s UK director Matt Brittin at a conference said Google didn't need the news:

“Economically it’s not a big part of how we generate revenue,”

News Corp, which owns newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal of the US to The Sun of the UK, will need other publishers to make this work. If it would only be the Wall Street Journal or the Sun it would have no effect. People don't change search engines so one site would be available. Therefore the support of Microsoft could be very interesting for News Corp. The money could persuade publishers to join in with News Corp.


Microsofts steps are a direct attack on Google if it goes through with this move. A publisher who was aware of the plans told FT:

“This is all about Microsoft hurting Google’s margins,”

But Microsoft will need to 'buy' its way into the news-search with very much money. There are very many news sites out there. It would take a lot of effort getting them, or at least the most important ones, to actually go through with this.

However if Bing does succeed it might be a long term change. Get them in the shop and then they will start buying eventually is what Microsoft must be thinking.

For now Microsoft doesn't say a word and declines to comment on the case. Will be continued without a doubt...

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