Have you ever encountered reading an article online and suddenly, a pop-up ad tells you that you have used one of three free articles for that website? Well, that’s all thanks to Google’s First Click Free program. But since The Wall Street Journal pulled their content out of that, there’s a possibility that others may pull this stunt as well and soon, you may not have access to any article in other digital publications at all, lest you subscribe to them.
Free Information in Three Clicks
In their attempt to make the world’s information and make it universally accessible, Google started offering the First Click Free option to web and news publishers. This protects the publisher’s content while including it in the search index. It also provides a discovery opportunity for those who have restricted content.
In 2009, Google limited the free access to five because they thought of the publishers that were still hesitant to try it in fear that people may abuse it to obtain almost all of their content. About a decade after Google launched the program, they updated it and reduced the number of accesses from five down to three because publishers felt the need to revisit these policies, making sure that these apply to a multiple device setting.
Recently, The Wall Street Journal pulled out four sections of their publication out of Google’s First Click Free program. As a result, non-members will be unable to read them unless they purchase one or subscribe to the Journal.
It was a bold move from the Journal and by removing four sections – Opinion, Markets, Business, and Politics – the experiment aims to give a boost to subscriptions driven directly from content.
However, as per Google, subscription-only content won’t be fully indexed, which means that there’s a possibility that the Journal’s content won’t rank as well as it did before, which could mean a reduction in traffic, resulting in paying subscriptions.