Brazilian Newspapers Apparently Don't Want Traffic; They All Opt Out Of Google News

from the how-much-do-they-spend-on-seo? dept

We’ve already seen newspapers in Belgium and Germany argue that Google needs to pay them for linking to them in Google News. And we just wrote about how French newspapers were looking for the same ridiculous handout. But a bunch of Brazilian newspapers have taken the issue even further, and colluded to all pull out of Google News together (well, 90% of all newspapers in Brazil). They’re demanding that Google pay them to link to them. Of course, I’m curious if any of those newspapers has ever hired an SEO expert to try to get them better search rankings…

Google, as it does, has pointed out that it sends these newspapers a ton of traffic, which you would think they’d appreciate. A Google representative pointed out how ridiculous the newspapers’ stance was:

it would be absurd for a restaurant to tax a cab driver for taking tourists to eat there.

In the meantime, if I were one of the 10% of newspapers smart enough not to opt-out, I’d be going all out to try to steal that traffic from the big newspapers.

The newspapers defended their decision by arguing that Google News is “not helping us grow our digital audiences.” Instead, they claim that “by providing the first few lines of our stories to Internet users, the service reduces the chances that they will look at the entire story in our web sites.” I’m wondering how they determine this, because I can’t see how that would possibly be true. Google notes that it sends four billion clicks to news sites each month. The newspaper guys seem to assume that without Google News people will just go straight to their newspaper sites, which is a huge assumption. It also assumes that the people looking at Google News aren’t clicking through on news articles. Those both seem like very big assumptions that are likely to be entirely incorrect.

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Comments on “Brazilian Newspapers Apparently Don't Want Traffic; They All Opt Out Of Google News”

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Ninja (profile) says:

O LoL and hilarity ensues.. Most seem to be mainstream and as it’s pretty usual most won’t be missed.

I do think Brazil is a tad different though, newspapers still have decent revenue from printed stuff. I’d say we are where the US were 10 years ago. I’m not sure why the delay but we are moving towards the same path.

I do think we’ll see them reconsidering.

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Newspaper: But if people read the snippet, they no longer need to read the article!
Judge: So what you’re saying is, Google copies the entire article?
Newspaper: No, your honor, but the snippet contains enough that people might not want to read the entire story.
Judge: So what you’re saying is, you write predictable drivel and any random excerpted piece of it is enough to know the rest?
Newspaper: Derp.

So which is it? Either there is value in Google driving traffic and they just want to be paid for receiving free advertising, or the news sites want to hide that articles can indeed be summarised accurately by Google in 2 sentences.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What would be the big deal about that? Isn’t a great attribute of an opt-in/out situation like this is that they have opted-out but could easily opt-in at a time they choose?

Also, if google provides an opt-out button, why is it a bad thing if it is used?

On another note, what’s with all the funny business with the trading of GOOG stock recently.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It isn’t a big deal that they opt out (except for how ridiculous it is to do). The bigger deal is in places like France, where they’re demanding that the govt. make it mandatory that Google fork out to these publications for basically doing their linky traffic legwork for them (see link in the above article).

In either case, I just don’t get the thinking behind this supposed outrage: OMG, Google has us in news links! People might see our articles that way! Fire the torpedos…?

Simple Mind (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They can opt out anytime they wish with robots.txt. They always could do that. So why is it news that they all opt out? (That is rhetorical to your stupid question, BTW.)

They will make news by all simultaneously opting out in a news extravaganza and then quietly opt back in so it doesn’t make any headlines. Same crap like when the govt puts out an economic report and then quietly revise it so no one notices.

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: Re: Robots.txt

There’s always robots.txt and Google checks for googlebot for its generic crawler, as well as googlebot-image for its image crawler.

A lot of grief could be avoided if they added googlebot-news to their spider code, then anything allowed for googlebot but not googlebot-news ends up in the regular index on the main Google site, but not on the Google News page.

That way the news sites could opt out of the one without opting out of the other. It would still cost them a significant amount of traffic, I’d bet and cause them to reconsider. On the whole it would a cheap way for Google to prove the point by giving them exactly what they want.

Christopher Best (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

As others have pointed out, there already is an established opt-out method that preexisted Google: robots.txt. They can control exactly what content they want indexed or not via the well-documented, well-supported, industry-standard method.

However, they are not asking to opt-out. They don’t even want to opt out. They want Google to pay newspapers for the privilege of sending traffic to newspapers. The simple solution is to not send them traffic, preventing Google from having to pay them.

Coises (profile) says:

The problem with free samples

Instead, they claim that “by providing the first few lines of our stories to Internet users, the service reduces the chances that they will look at the entire story in our web sites.” I’m wondering how they determine this, because I can’t see how that would possibly be true.

They?re just saying that they figure the odds of an Internet user randomly happening to click on a link to their site are greater than the slim chance that anyone will click once he or she has seen a sample of what?s actually there.

The Real Michael says:

Despite all their whining, the record labels, movie studios and TV networks won’t take down most of their content from YouTube. Know why? Because they know that without YT they’d lose a huge portion of their audience. The larger your audience, the greater your potential for sales. Basic economics.

In a similar fashion, without all of the traffic Google provides newspapers, the latter would lose a huge chunk of visitors. If the papers force Google to eliminate them from their search results, they’ll surely regret it.

Anonymous Coward says:

glad Google are going down the road of letting them leave. i hope it doesn’t let them back, or at least for free, when those newspapers realise what twats they have made of themselves. let’a face it, this is the same stance that the entertainment indyustries have taken. they dont want to do anything, pay for anything themselves to improve their digital lot or the experience for customers, expecting ‘someone else’ to just do it for them, for free. when that doesn’t happen, they get all sulky, pay some stupid idiot of a politician to introduce a new law for them that is expected to redeem their failing business, then let customers get penalised instead. great plan, i dont think!!

Anonymous Coward says:

A good amount of brazilian newspapers actually choose to offer the entire issue free in the web in .pdf format. They generate more money from their adds – and a lot of those adds are actually paid by public services, so they have a steady income. And its dificult for the newspapers to deal with issues like racist or difamatory comments.

Russ (profile) says:


I think that people are taking the request at face value instead of what is really intended. The Brazilian newspapers want their vigorish. They figure that since Google makes money from GN, it would be cheaper to share the spoils than it would be to drop the newpapapers from GN.

Of course, content owners have a realistic idea on how much Google earns from GN (not!)

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