Dear Rupert Murdoch… A suggestion
December 2, 2009
So, you’re not happy with search engines (Google in particular) for exposing your content to an audience who aren’t paying for it. You don’t like the way they include snippets in their search results of your stories and you definitely don’t like them referring visitors to your websites (unless they are paying customers). You seem aggravated with aggregation and less than happy about linking. So here’s a suggestion for you.
Google themselves (yep those folks you keep moaning about) have kindly provided a really easy way for you to get your content out of their search index, and you can just block the news search crawler if you want now too! It couldn’t be easier. Let’s take a fictional website http://www.rupert4google.com. In the very first directory where the website files are stored (the root) you’ll find a text file called robots.txt (so that file lives at http://www.rupert4google.com/robots.txt). All you need to do is find that file, open it up in Notepad (or a text editor of your choosing), and add the two lines of text below to it. Save it and your Google problems are over (if this all proves a bit tricky, get one of your lovely web developers to help you (while you’re at it why not ask them if they think it’s a good idea too?).
Job done, give it a couple of weeks and none of your pages will be in Googles index anymore. That troublesome traffic will be no more. Satisfied?
Now come on, thats not the answer is it? Here’s an idea for you. Why not devote your time, energies, finances and skilled personnel into coming up with a new model to make all this free traffic and advertising work for you? Rather than moan about it, find a way to make it work for you. It’s about time someone made some advances in the world of online display advertising and I’d have thought that with all your web properties you’d be just the man/organisation to do so. The possibilities are endless, start to tap into the rich data you can glean from the tracks your web visitors leave each time they visit. Learn from it, find ways to encourage repeat visitors and new channels to monetise them through. Of course you may want to reconsider my earlier recommendation first, otherwise you won’t have enough traffic to benefit from any improvement to your advertising and other revenue streams.
If you can design experiences that encourage visitors to become loyal users of your content maybe you could even sell them something? Maybe (just maybe) if you make your sites engaging enough some might even subscribe! There are so many ways you could make more revenue from so much traffic. I’ll be available in July 2010 to help if you haven’t worked it out by that time…
What are you going to do? Just block the traffic, alienate potentially loyal users and try and get people to pay for your content? Or move forwards proactively, embrace the fact you get so much traffic to your sites (it’s a good thing, honest) and work out a really viable model to monetise it properly.
Personally, I’d go with the latter (with so many pages, so much content and so much traffic you have endless possibilities). The former just strikes me as the reactionary moves of an industry with so much promise in the digital world that gives off an impression of being on it’s last legs.