Google is relaxing its ‘first click free’ rule which requires news organisations using the subscription model to provide three news stories for free every day or face lower ranking in search results.
This move announced by Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president for news, is following heavy criticism from media giants like News Corp who complained of a drop in sales.
Google’s “first click free” policy was aimed at ensuring that non-subscribers wouldn’t be stifled by paywalls when they clicked on news articles from searches. They had also contended that free samples would lead to increased subscriptions.
Apparently, this didn’t work as planned as organisations like Wall Street Journal defied Google’s policy and stuck with their total subscription model regardless of the consequences to their search ranking.
Grindas said, “Over the last year, we got clear indications that, yes, it was going to be important for publishers to grow subscription revenues.”
Due to these new discoveries, Google has announced that henceforth, publishers will be able to choose how many, if any, free articles they want to offer to Google searchers.
Google hopes the relaxed rules and subscription software which is under development will stop publishers who depend on the subscription model from holding back valuable content.