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Getting Paid To Unlist from Google Is Bad
Date 5/15/2008    Tags Web    (0)

Mark Cuban (who I was initially gonna talk about here for a minute but had so much to say that I'll leave that for it's own blog post another day) wrote in his blog yesterday about how to take down search giant Google. I tend to agree with Cuban on many things, but I've got some serious concerns about this one. I think he was just throwing this out there as a "what-if" scenario, but I'd still like to take the time to explain why this would be a bad, bad thing.
What would happen if MicroSoft or Yahoo or a MicroHoo went to the 5 top results for the top 25k searches and paid them to leave the Google Index ?
Cuban's essential idea for taking down Google is by paying off the top searched sites on Google to remove themselves from Google altogether (not just the site, but also the advertising program too). Thusly if people want a search to contain one of these tops sites, they'll have to go to the likes of Microsoft or Yahoo, which in theory would bring in enough traffic and new advertising to offset the cost of paying the sites to leave Google.

Cuban's post goes through all the math and works up the numbers required to make this not only profitable but to unseat Google as the defacto Internet Search King. I'm not going to dispute the fact that this could work. We've seen similar situations in Los Vegas where promoters pay singers only to sing at their casinos or with satellite radio where people like Howard Stern or Martha Stewart got big money in order to only do their shows on one specific network. So this model can, and in fact has, worked.

But I think it would be terrible for consumers if this ever came to be. Let's say that Microsoft paid Wikipedia.org to only appear on their search results (doing a search for almost anything on Google these days has an article from Wikipedia inevitably in the top 5). Now the consumer must go to Microsoft's page in order to do their searching for Wikipedia articles (and they will because, let's be fair, Wikipedia's integrated site search sucks). Google is not to happy about this (rightly so), so they ink a deal with ESPN.com, FoxSports, and a bunch of other sports websites. Now if you want to search for sports news, you need to go to Google. Then Yahoo inks deals with CNN, MSNBC (not likely given that this is a Microsoft company but let's ignore that fact for now), and Reuters. Now to get your regular news, you need to use Yahoo.

What has happened is that you've created a fractured search structure to a point where you need to use all three major search engines in order to get as good quality results as you would have gotten from one prior. Eventually consumers would realize that one search engine is better for this type of searching, this other search engine is better for that type of searching, and so on. It would no longer be based on who does search the best (which is why Google reins supreme) but rather as to which search engine can ink the biggest sites and provides the content you want. Yeah, this could ultimately unseat Google as the top search engine out there, but it would make all the search engines inferior than they are today. Maybe business wise that makes sense if it brings in increased revenue streams but that fact is extremely uncertain as there is no way to tell how these deals will all play out. The only certainty is that Joe or Jane Consumer will be worst off after it happens. 0" style="displ


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