As I reported a few weeks back, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said his company was considering blocking Google from being able to search its Web sites. I used my tabloid headline generator to create “Murdoch to Google: Drop Dead.”
Today, the Google News Blog announced “Same Protocol, More Options for News Publishers.” If we run this through my tabloid translator, I think we’d get the following headline: “Google to Murdoch: Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry?”
According to Hitwise, Google and Google News are the top traffic providers for WSJ.com, accounting for over 25 percent of WSJ.com’s traffic on a weekly basis. And if Murdoch doesn’t want or need that traffic anymore, then Google now offers him the “option” of using the Robots Exclusion Protocol for Google News as well as Google.
Josh Cohen, Senior Business Product Manager, said, “Now, with the news-specific crawler, if a publisher wants to opt out of Google News, they don’t even have to contact us – they can put instructions just for user-agent Googlebot-News in the same robots.txt file they have today.”
Cohen adds, “If publishers don’t want their websites to appear in web search results or in Google News, we want to give them easy ways to remove it. We’re excited about this change and will start rolling it out today.”
So, has Google just called Murdoch’s bluff? Is the Pope Catholic?