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Is it Really Crazy to Block Google?

For the Wall Street Journal it actually may make sense!

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After all is said and done Rupert Murdoch may still be seen as the sly old fox that really knew best. Many bloggers and journalists have pounded the insanity of Murdoch’s suggestion that News Corp publications might strike an exclusive indexing deal with Bing and delist itself from Google’s search engine.

However, what if Murdoch was really only talking about the Wall Street Journal and not all News Corp publications? Then the idea might actually make a lot of sense.

According to Compete.com WSJ.com already receives the largest percentage of its traffic from Microsoft’ (18.74%). This is contrary to many sites which typically receive the majority of their referrals from Google, often many times more than what Microsoft delivers. Yahoo provides another 6.3% and since Bing will likely be owning Yahoo’s search business that means Microsoft is actually delivering 25% of the Wall Street Journals current traffic. 

If Rupert Murdoch can get Microsoft to pay possibly as much as $50 million or more a year to lose just 11.5% of his Google traffic sent to WSJ.com the deal makes a lot of sense.

According to Hitwise Google and Google News combined deliver approximately 26% of WSJ.com visitors. However, even with this larger percentage (vs. Compete’s) Hitwise notes in a blog post why this might not be as much of a traffic loss as it appears:

Analyzing Google search terms driving traffic to the Journal, the top 100 terms accounted for over 21.6% of all Google search traffic to WSJ.com. Of that 21.6%, 13.4% were navigational or brand searches (e.g. "Wall Street Journal," "WSJ," "WSJ.com" etc…). Even if Murdoch decides to block Google, these navigational search queries will most likely remain intact.

Of the remaining 8.2%, the majority of searches were for stock quotes, and general business related searches. Most specific news related searches fill-out the long tail of search queries. While the Journal may lose traffic if it ceases to cooperate with Google the loss may be less then anticipated.

From Bing’s perspective Wall Street Journal exclusivity not only differentiates Bing from Google but it could also help change its image as a more consumer focused search engine. The Wall Street Journal is the most read business publication in the World and this deal could go a long way toward modifying Bing’s consumer image in the minds of business executives.

After all, a click resulting from a B2B oriented search term usually demands a premium price, which could help offset Bing’s cost of paying Murdoch for exclusive inclusion.

Update: Two more publishers have come out with statements indicating their possible desire to de-index from Google as well. Read more here …

Is it Really Crazy to Block Google?
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  • http://www.omna.com.au Guest

    Rupert Murdoch is a genius who didn’t become as successful as he is by making bad decisions. Time will show this is definitely one of his better decisions.

  • http://www.freewarebb.com Freeware

    I hate it when people simply over-complicate a situation, this is real easy for me to understand – the online authorities in news want to start charging (and some already have) for people to access their content so the burning question is will people pay for the privillage? No, simple as that, they won’t. When we have fantastic content from the BBC website which is extremely unlikely to charge for content (remember this is funded from the British TV license payer already) why would any news site consider it possible to charge for the same news?

  • Michael Wilkinson

    Murdoch is right to decide just how people access his products,they are his after all.
    Only time will tell if his decision is rght and if he loses money,after all that’s all he is interested in,the money.

  • Tristan

    Not sure if they realize that when people can’t find their articles using Google, they will most likely still find answers, and probably won’t switch search engines to do it. They will just find other sources with answers. It will be a huge boost for the WSJ online competition, strengthening other brands online as the WSJ paper format dies out.

    And heck, maybe they’d get even more Google traffic if they did some better optimization. They don’t show up within the first 5 SERPs for “business news” except in an ad link. (but maybe that’s because of the whole de-listing deal)

    Granted, Murdock has been making money for some time. I’m sure he’s got some semblance of an idea about what he’s doing.

  • http://www.tyloon.com/ juan

    In my opinion…Murdock and the like are not taking advantage of being used by Google news, an international, multi language platform, if they place multi language advertisement in every single news article, editorial, etc. they will be using Google to reach more markets, generate more traffic to their sites, and their client’s sites, increase their presence in other regions of the world. Google will reign for a very long time before the ‘other’ search engines come even closer to it…thanks. And thanks for allowing us to list our site address, and just for reference, Tyloon.com is the first Online Multilingual Yellow Pages / Search Engine, try it and enjoy it…lol :)

  • AngryKid

    I agree with CyberHodge. WSJ is a niche information source. it’s not like any regular crap paper.

    What a smart move by mr. murdoch, im sure microsoft isn’t unhappy about it either.

    YO UARE WRONG CATHY. DEAD WRONG.

  • http://www.antellus.com/ Guest

    If he feels that deslisting with Google’s Search Engine will help him sell newspapers, it’s up to him. However, delisting is not the greatest idea. Removing Google ad patches, however, is. Listing with the search engine does not have the prerequisite of accepting ad patches. In some cases, I think most customers would like to see clean, uncluttered web pages free of the ubiquitous Google brand, which would in effect create a neutral environment. Murdoch is also perfectly free to charge for his content. It is the capitalistic way.

    I have the same problem with clutter when I click on a possible partner’s site and see nothing but Amazon ads. After my own experiences with the retailer I usually shy of participating in the sites altogether. Think of all the Yahoo users who do not like to see the Google brand all around and you would see what I mean.

    I have as many as a thousand search keywords on my pages, but if people do not click on them I can never know if they looked. They can also click and not buy anything, and I would prefer it if they did, but I will still be grateful if they just look.

    • http://www.heytoku.co.cc Guest

      He has that given right to choose what he wants, but in the long run I think the ultimate choice would be google. I for one, dont use bing or yahoo because of all the clutter -I find it very distracting, and most people would agree.
      The only real reason why Murdoch would choose Bing for traffic is because it thrusts its ads onto its costumers. Because of that I think in the end Bing & Murdochs relationship will degrade, unless Bing changes its tactics.