Monday, March 26, 2007

Does Google drive traffic?

Last September Google was ordered by a Belgian court to remove all French and German-speaking articles from the News results and cache of Google.be. Found in violation of copyright laws, The case was brought to court by Copiepresse, a Belgian copyright firm that represents French and German news journals, including Le Soir, La Libre Belgique and La Derniere-Heure.

Andrew Larks' pick up on what is happening to the traditional print media prompted me to look at Belgium again.

I was interested in the results of the action against Google believing that it would have a deleterious effect on the pages viewed.

I was wrong if Alexa is to be believed. Reach is mostly up (in some cases a lot) and readership is down but no more that other publications in other countries. Eventually the predictions of Doc Searle and Warren Buffet have to be examined. Attrition is eating away at the traditional publishers across the world. But is denying Google access to news pages going to hold back the digital tide or not?

The results look like this:

www.lalibre.be

The number of unique pages viewed per user per day for this site up 22%. Reach is up 152%




www.dhnet.be
The number of unique pages viewed per user per day for this site down 8%. Reach up 88%.



www.lecho.be
The number of unique pages viewed per user per day for this site down 13%. Reach up 159%.



www.lesoir.be
The number of unique pages viewed per user per day for this site down 6%. Reach down 11%



The UK's Daily Telegraph with its new Internet focused investment has page views down 8%. Reach is down 6%.




Reach for Lesoir is down 11% compared to the Telegraph fall of 6% but the remainder of the Belgium papers has soured.

What seems to be happening is this:The newspapers have to gain a huge increase in reach to maintain page views in a post Google era. But they have achived it.

This is an event worth following to see if there really are alternatives to search engine promotion for traditional web sites.