CNET Networks (Nasdaq: CNET) was one of Friday's big winners, climbing 8% after rumors made the rounds that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) might buy the company.

This isn't the first time published reports have linked CNET to buyout offers. However, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) was previously pegged as the interested dot-com heavy, given how well the two companies' content properties would mesh.

The Google rumor is probably nothing more than wishful thinking -- perhaps another ploy by activist investors to rattle CNET out of its dormant slumber.

Sure, CNET is a tortoise to Google's hare, with revenue climbing just 11% in CNET's latest quarter. Adjusted profitability grew at a healthier clip, but no one will confuse CNET for a Web-savvy speedster. However, if a slow-footed Shaquille O'Neal can pan out in the high-octane Phoenix Suns offense, why can't CNET work under Google's watch?

The key is that CNET brings plenty of eyeballs to the table. CNET's collection of Internet properties attracted 148 unique monthly visitors during the quarter, serving up an average of 83 million daily page views.

CNET is an existing Google partner, but it relies on Big G for just 10% of its search advertising revenue. Google recently renewed that search deal with CNET on terms that aren't public.

Even if CNET doesn't stray to a rival ad network powered by Yahoo! or Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) for its available inventory, Google would be better off eliminating all uncertainty by swallowing CNET whole. Why drum up 10% of CNET's take when it can own it all? Why pay CNET, as an AdSense partner, roughly 80% of the ad revenue generated through the online publisher's sites, when Google can pay out 0% by running it as a company-owned new media arm?

It's fair to say that CNET is run more like Yahoo! -- with chunky, margin-crimping editorial oversight -- than Google's model. However, if Microsoft and Yahoo! finally hook up, the online world will scramble to grab Web-surfing audiences once the dust settles. Google knew that it wasn't getting ideal traffic when it acquired a 5% stake in Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) AOL, but it had to make the purchase to fend off rivals for AOL's ad space.

Google can continue to sign ad-outsourcing deals with content publishers and smaller search engines like Answers (Nasdaq: ANSW) and MIVA (Nasdaq: MIVA), but the climate calls for more aggressive certainties over passive uncertainties.

CNET may have seen its market value dip in recent years, as faster-growing blogs and social networks began attracting larger audiences, but now's the time to cash in on the loyal visitors it still has left.

Google's supposed offer may have been smoke and mirrors, but there's still a real fire there. 

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of CNET but still misses the old MP3.com days. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.