The war of the search engines enters a new phase as Microsoft considers paying publishers to put their content on its search enging Bing - presumably in the hope they will do as Rupert Murdoch has suggested and remove it from Google. But how much would this actually hurt Google?
A recent German survey tried to determine what the effect on Google would be if most of the country's publishers - with their nearly 1,000 domains - removed their content from the search engine. The 148 publishers signed a declaration in Hamburg as a protest against what they saw as being financially exploited. But would the first 10 search results on the German Google site look different? Would German Google be empty?
A search on German Google, based on a survey using more than 1 million keywords, showed that on average 5% of the top 10 results came from the German news organisations - and this is with publishers co-operating with Google. So the economic effect of a withdrawal would be negligible. The main search results would be largely unaffected, and Google News carries no advertisements.
Financially, then, Google doesn't depend on the publishers' content. "In comparison, if you detracted Wikipedia from the results, 13% of the number one results would be gone," said Christoph Burseg, the CEO of TRG, the research company that ran the survey.
Microsoft may not be about to dent Google's revenue – but making quality news on Google harder to find would certainly hurt the search engine's image.
Would you use Google if you knew you couldn't find stories from certain - or even all- news organisations? Have your say in the comments
Burgess Powers server solutions, development and support keep this site online