Last week, I was shaking my head at Mark Cuban. He suggested that Microsoft pay online publishers to de-index their sites from Google. Presumably, then Bing could go out there and say "Hey, search us to find the Wall Street Journal."
I scoffed. I laughed. Who would do such a thing?
Apparently, Steve Ballmer would. To my utter dismay, news reports are in fact breaking that Microsoft is talking to News Corp, which recently said it was considering blocking the Googlebot from its news sites.
Nevermind that Bing is experiencing some nice growth. Almost 2 percentage points in search share have been gained since the June launch. Nevermind that they've recently released a sweet set of new features. It seems like Ballmer's too impatient. He wants quicker success. Yeah, cuz there are absolutely no examples whatsoever in this country of people getting greedy and it backfiring (cough, cough credit crisis. cough, cough, AIG).
Here's the thing, Steve. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that no one goes to Google to search the Wall Street Journal. They may come across the Wall Street Journal in their search. But usually if people already know what they want - they go straight there.
That is, of course, one of the bigger problems in search. Helping people get where they're going quicker. Just let that Bing team of yours keep focusing on doing that. But sending them to sites with paywalls (even if they get one cute little article for free) isn't going to accomplish that.