Wall Street Journal decided not to be part of Facebook’s “First Click Free” program and pulled all its content, according to SearchEngineLand.com. WSJ tentatively pulled four sections in January as an experiment: Business, Opinion, Politics, and Markets. The result was a rise in subscription orders, so the media mogul took the full plunge, hoping to see more positive reaction from is readers.
WSJ is still available through Google News Publisher Center. On the SERP, stories in the WSJ are marked with a“subscription” tag.
The First Click Free program requires participating publications to allow up to three free clicks per day per user. He idea of the program was to broaden subscription by feeding viewers a sample. Previously, FB’s program rules allowed up to five clicks before the viewer started hitting the payment indicator, where they were required to have a subscription or buy one to move beyond the teaser to a full story.
Having to pay for reading content that was searchd through Google has not been very popular for Google viewers. That is why Google came up with the “First Click Free” concept. Now this is being threatened by the Wall Street Journal pullout and going full subscription on all content.
Some publishers use the so-called “paywall” to propose a monetary transaction (subscription) to a viewer who wants to read their content. Some of those who are abiding with the letter of Google’s First Click Free agreement, are demanding a transaction of ideas as they are mandating that viewers fill out a survey. This is resulting in some disgruntled viewers.
Discrimination Against Non-First Click Free Content
Not every publication wants to do First Click Free. Some believe that giving anything away makes it harder for paid subscriptions to have value. They’ll keep their paywall strict for everyone, including Google’s “crawlers” that gather up content from across the web. If Google can’t crawl a site, then the content within that site — perhaps important and useful information — is effectively invisible to Google and those searching through it.
Google hates the idea of content that it can’t see. That’s why Google tries to appease those with strict paywalls. It will include them in its search results, if they let Google behind their paywalls, without requiring them to give away the first click free to Google visitors. Instead, they’ll have a “Subscription” designation next to their listings.
WSJ Pulls Back On What Google Searchers Can Read For Free — From 2012, on how The Wall Street Journal quietly pulled content from First Click Free without Google flagging such content as “Subscription.”
How Google Fails To Enforce “First Click Free” — From 2014, how Google failed to show “Subscription” labels as it says it should, for subscription content.
Google News “First Click Free” Gets Less Free To Appease Publishers — From 2015, about how Google changed its First Click Free requirements so publishers had to share less than in the past.
Is It Time For Google To Rank News Content Behind Paywalls Better? — From 2015, my look at how Google might change its First Click Free program to better accommodate publishers, something even more relevant as the WSJ’s change might cause other publishers to shift.