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Paying to Sow Discontent

By - May 14, 2008

Mark Cuban is clearly drinking and blogging again.

How many websites would have to recuse themselves from the Google Index before Google Search was negatively impacted ?

Mahalo.com thinks it needs to support the 25k most common search terms in order to be successful. What would happen if MicroSoft or Yahoo or a MicroHoo went to the 5 top results for the top 25k searches and paid them to leave the Google Index ?

A theoretical maximum of 125k sites, but with overlap, probably closer to 100k or less, times how much per site on average ?

The math starts to get interesting. At $1,000 per site average times 100k sites, thats only $ 1 Billion Dollars. The distribution would obviously favor the larger sites, so of that billion dollars, would the top 1k sites take 500k each and the remaining 99k split the rest ?

Given the stakes, why stop at $ 1 Billion Dollars ? Would the top 1k most visited sites take a cool $1mm each, plus a committment from MicroSoft or Yahoo to drive traffic through their search engines to more than make up for the lost Google Traffic. After all, once consumers realized that Google no longer had valid search results for the top 25k searchs, that traffic would most likely go to MicroSoft and Yahoo.

One big problem: No one would do it. Well, some would, but assuming that folks would be willing to be paid to screw over Google assumes folks 1. have no soul and/or 2. hate Google. I pray that for most folks, #1 is not true, and Google prays that for most folks, #2 is not true. So far, I think we’re both right.

But hey, Mark, you have the money! Why not find out?!

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12 thoughts on “Paying to Sow Discontent

  1. nmw says:

    AFAIK, pizza.com went for US$2.6M and cruises.co.uk cost a little over US$1M.

    I am quite sure, though that thousands of transactions happen daily without anyone taking particular notice — maybe Bob Parsons and/or Tim Schumacher (and/or Mark Bentley) might care to comment?

    My transactions, however, are confidential….

    ;) nmw

  2. there are already some good comments on his post because frankly, 500k will not even make the top sites blink. I am pretty sure that the top SEO people in the US make several million a year easily.

  3. mark cuban says:

    Content websites join aggregators every day in hopes of finally making money. Where your posters have it wrong however , is that there would be no reason to pay landing sites to leave. If a site is making 1mm dollars a year using SEO, the smartest thing to do would be leave them with Google. The vast majority arent real content sites. Leaving them IN the search results would hurt Google more than taking them out

    m

  4. John Battelle says:

    Good point Mark. The landing sites are harvesters but not engaged sites.

  5. nmw says:

    If I understand the argument correctly, then “landing sites” refers to something like “bogus” websites. Is Google actually returning bogus websites at the top of its SERPs? Or what do Mark & John mean? (don’t understand it, really)

  6. nmw says:

    the silence is deafening!

  7. Kamal Jain says:

    John, if it is drinking and blogging then may be they should serve some drinks in executive rooms.

    IMO, the way Mark is expressing his thoughts is bordering unrealistic as you noticed. But he is right on his observation that when a website becomes a part of a search index then some value is generated for both the search engine and that website. How this value is shared depends upon market dynamics. Note that sometimes the value generated for a search engine is way more than the value generated for the content provider, e.g., Wikipedia.

    Wikipedia currently runs on donations. I love the concept of wikipedia and I wish it could be better capitalized to serve other domains of knowledge. Other domains such as “how to” are significantly harder from scientific perspective and perhaps expensive from implementation perspective.

    Some people suggest Wikipedia should run ads to get better capitalized. The undisputable fact is that ads do show up next to Wikipedia searches, but unfortunately that money completely goes unfairly to someone else. Wikipedia does not need to deteriorate the user experience on its website by showing ads, when it is already contributing to the pages which show ads (search pages).

    Wikipedia is a special content provider for the search engines. For an example, some search engines such as Microsoft HealthVault and Yahoo India highlights wikipedia’s content. Google on the other hand is taking a head-on approach against the community site, Wikipedia, by introducing Google Knols. This is the time for Wikipedia to follow Mark’s advice on behalf of its community of contributors and users. If and when Google develops its Knols then Wikipedia’s opportunity to serve its users in other domains may decrease significantly forever.

    If Wikipedia contributes in 10% of searches and could fairly claim 10% of reveneue on these searches; then it gets 1% of search revenue (i.e., order of $100M). I think both of these estimates are conservative.

    Wikipedia is just an example I used to explain my understanding of Mark’s thinking.

    (The commentator is a researcher in Microsoft.)

  8. ajolie says:

    John:
    I don’t understand why you frequently have such negative comments about people or things that aren’t from the valley. For example, there are a lot of people here (I’m in SF) who would like to see Yahoo merge with MS, and a lot who really don’t like the goog (they are perceived as manipulative, arrogant and monopolistic just as MS was and is perceived; and some techies want to see the goog’s ass kicked in). As someone who has been involved in start ups (like you), you know that if Mark is thinking this way, surely someone at Google, Yahoo, MS are thinking this way as well. Why not offer more constructive criticisms instead of one line condescending assults that make you look like an arrogant know-all valley guy (even though you’ve had your share of internet failures).

  9. Sean says:

    I think you need to add a little more value to the post than copying it over and posting a cranky couple of line response. How about some analysis or insight here?

    How about an analysis of where the antithesis is coming from like maybe about the concentration of power in Gs hands
    and the concern that through adwords,adsense,analytics,and search they have a view into key aspects of user behavior and control the entry point to the net for 60% of website visits

  10. nmw says:

    >> not engaged sites

    I am still trying to understand John’s rather terse remark.

    I have now started a thread which asks Where does engagement begin?: http://gaggle.info/post/47/where-does-engagement-begin

    Would love it if people would participate and/or engage (or whatever).

    :) nmw

  11. NoName says:

    I have read through this several times and too do not quite understand what you are trying to say, you have made this rather unclear and to add to the confusion you seem to refuse to explain anything.
    I have to agree with nmw the silence is deafening, which leads me to wonder why?
    Guilty maybe or just plain stuck?

  12. John Battelle says:

    Wow guys, thanks for piling on. I promise, this weekend, to sy a lot more. It was a passing thought. I’ll add more.

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