09:40 AM

MediaWatch Analysis Part II: Google Has More To Lose Than Murdoch

The accepted wisdom among the Digerati has been that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and the entire newspaper industry, would be in deep trouble if they barred Google from indexing their content.

I dealt with one aspect of this thinking last week. [The dirty little secret about search engine traffic]

There is a second aspect. It is Google that would be in trouble and not the newspapers.

Let me explain:

- The value of Google search traffic to the newspapers is low. Its loss wouldn't make much difference to the newspapers' already poor online revenues.

- The damage to Google would be much greater. If it is locked out from being able to index a large part of the Internet, it would be very bad for business. It would create a crisis of confidence in Google.

If something like that happened, it would strike at its very core, its mission: "To index all the world's information."

Google users would question "what else is missing?"

GOOG's index is its Achilles' heel. It will do everything it needs to do to protect its ability to index content.

It doesn't care if the content is free or not, as Google's Josh Cohen recently told SearchEngineLand: "...people will say ... 'I have to make this content free or Google won't index it,' and that's not the case."

I ask again, who has the most to lose if News Corp and other large publishers block Google?

Newspaper online revenues won't be much affected at all.

But for Google its reputation as having the best index would be seriously harmed. It would have a large hole in its index.

And that hole would be made up of missing content - new content - the most valuable thing for search engines. People search for new content. That's what brings them back to Google.

Google has far more to lose than the newspaper publishers from being blocked.

And that's why it will do whatever it needs to do in order to preserve its index, including possibly paying for access.

Rupert Murdoch may very well have found the weak spot in Google's business.

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Please see part one of MediaWatch Analysis:

Murdoch Will Negotiate Payment For Access To Basket Of Content With GOOG et al