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Murdoch about to ban Googlebot

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday May 27, 2010 )

After talking about it for months (years?), Rupert Murdoch is about to ban search engine spiders from two of his publications.

The first two Newscorp properties to carry out the the wrath of Rupert are UK (soon to be pay for play) news sites, The Times and Sunday Times.

According to PaidContent, the sites will only allow their homepages, not articles, to be indexed by search engines. After the paywall is in place, people who are non-subscribers and click through to an article will be met by a sign-up and login overlay, totally obscuring the article.

PaidContent says there will be no teaser or excerpt available. This aspect is really interesting. Not only is Murdoch taking a risk by not allowing articles to be indexed; but to not even allow for excerpts will mean less inbound links from bloggers and such, which will also impact on the newspaper sites’ rankings – and possbily the number of new paid subscribers.

It certainly seems like he does not care about search engine traffic at all; nor link love and free traffic from others.

Whether that turns out to be a gutsy or stupid move only time will tell – will the massive drop off in traffic and people viewing/clicking ads be made up by the subscription bucks? Most sites get well over 50% of their traffic referrals from search engines and I’m assuming it’s no different for news sites.

Other paid news sites take a bit of a different approach. Some still allow their content to be indexed by Google, but through special coding, when a visitor clicks through from search engine results, they are offered a bit of a preview or perhaps a certain number of page views over X period before a paid subscription is requested.

PaidContent says the two paid news sites will be charging £2 a week (around USD$2.90), a fee that will auto-renew, or a non-atuo-renew charge of £1 for a “day-pass”.

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