The top story today was Rupert Murdoch sort of saying that News Corp might start using robots.txt on Google to prevent its stuff from being indexed. Or that's how it was interpreted on the internets anyway. Nevermind that he probably meant something different -- that News Corp will erect pay walls around its online content the way it now does with the Wall Street Journal: a headline and a paragraph of text for free, and everything else is paid.

(Well, it's not how it actually works, but whatever, it's complicated. In the same interview, Murdoch says his problem is not with Google, who's been easy to deal with.)

I giggle like a schoolgirl every time people say something along the lines "The guy is stuck on stupid if you ask me. I think he may be still be living in “tangible newspaper land” also known as the year 1995" (a Techcrunch verbatim). When a "stuck on stupid" guy is worth four billion bucks he has made himself, you'd figure it is not too generous to assume that he might know a thing or two about the biz.

The general consensus seems to be that blocking off Google's spiders will result in a significant traffic drop to News Corp's online properties. I've seen a lot of web traffic reports with Google leading the referrer list, so this collective opinion made sense. Then Hitwise posted some stats showing gets 25% of its traffic from Google's regular and news searches, so that seemed settled.

But I was curious enough to login into Compete Pro and fish out a few numbers. What you see are the top three referrers to some of News Corp's online properties in the US along with their share of traffic among all referrers.

Top Referrer: Google

  • (13.33%), (7.48%), (4.43%)
  • (11.43%), (8.34%), (7.59%)
  • (22.87%), (9.03%), (8.01%) 
  • (32.99%), (14.73%), (6.31%) 
  • (41.22%), (8.53%), (8.51%)
  • (26.86%), (6.30%), (5.89%)
  • (21.19%), (8.11%), (6.40%)
  • (26.51%), (16.71%), (5.71%)
  • (13.82%), (13.36%), (6.74%)

Top Referrer: Other

  • (21.43%), (13.12%), (11.24%)
  • (28.91%), (18.04%), (17.32%)
  • (28.91%), (18.04%), (6.02%)
  • (corporate site): (23.44%), (14.69%), (4.83%)
  • (16.61% -- that's a headline in itself), (11.17%), (8.78%)
  • (29%), (7.74%), (5.39%)
  • (14.92%), (12.18%), (7.36%)
  • (15.03%), (11.90%), (7.83%)
  • (27.18%), (11.45%), (10.10%)

It appears that Google is the top referrer for most of the entertainment stuff but not so much for news. And Murdoch's Dow Jones empire seems to be much less dependent on Google compared to a few other top newspapers for every one of which Google is the top referrer:

  • (Boston Globe): (12.61%)
  • 15.21%
  • 19.02%
  • 13.38%
  • 30.28%
  • 15.74%

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