width=480Search engines have always been at war, but now they have entered a new dimension. 

First, News Corp's Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said he wants to make people pay for access to his news websites like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post and will take off its content from sites like Google.

Microsoft has seized this opportunity to partner with News Corp and lure more users to its Bing search engine.

Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company being paid to de-index its news websites from Google, the Financial Times said.

The report added: Microsoft has also approached other big online publishers to persuade them to remove their sites from Google's search engine.

If Google loses content from News Corp owned sites, how much would this really affect Google's traffic?

A recent German survey by The Reach Group (TRG) 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.

TRG asked the question: How empty would the first 10 Google search results be if one could no longer find anything from the 148 German publishers?


This chart shows that sites of the Hamburg Declaration publishers have 5% share of a position on the first page of search results:

A search on German Google, based on a survey using more than 1 million keywords, showed that on average 5 percent of the top 10 results came from the German news organizations - and this is with publishers co-operating with Google. The main search results would be largely unaffected, and Google News carries no advertisements.

Only 5 percent of the first 10 Google results relate to content of German publishers.

In terms of finances, 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.

Microsoft deal with News Corp. may not severely affect Google's revenue - but making quality news on Google harder to find would certainly affect the search engine's image and attractiveness.

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Jeff Jarvis and The Reach Group