Google Searchers Are Now Being Limited To What They Can Read For Free By WSJ
For many internet users it has become a daily routine to use Google in order to read their favorite news such as the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately it has come to light that WSJ has actually been selecting only certain stories to share with Google’s Free Click Program. Other online newspapers may soon start doing the same thing following in WSJ’s footsteps.
I learned this once I started noticing that that I could only read specific stories when visiting WSJ through Google and after some research I learned that they were indeed only sharing a small amount of stories. I located a story based on how Google was able to move around the default privacy settings that Safari had which enabled the +1 buttons on all Google ads. I found the story title in Google but was only able to read a portion of the story.
First Click Free Does Not Include Everything for WSJ
With more digging I eventually came to the conclusion that the WSJ has indeed been hiding stories from the First Click Free for nearly 6 months. The First Click Free (Google FCF) was introduced to help draw in new readers and to help increase the audience size with new content. The strategy put in place holds back several of the top stories by only showing a portion of the story so it’s not crawled and limits a variety of articles from being read through the FCF. This was started last summer in hopes of convincing readers to go with a subscription which was the response given by Ashley S. Huston which is the VP of WSJ.
First Click Free for Beginners
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), like many of the top newspapers that have pay walls or specific registration requirements choose to participate in the First Click Free program created by Google. This particular program enables publications to provide complete articles to Google that are usually protected by a wall. Basically this enables Google to gain a better understanding of the story which will help to give more visibility to the story and increasing traffic.
In order to be in the program you will be required to allow users who are drawn to the publication through a Google search to read the entire article without the need to pay or register for anything. If a user attempts to read the story through a different search aside from Google they will not be able to read the entire story due to the barrier that is put in place. They will get the first click free but if they continue to click through Google they will need to register or pay to continue using the site. Google allows limitations which will prevent users from searching for repeatedly and trying to bypass the first click free program.
Users must be allowed at least 5 clicks per day before imposing a required registration. Lately WSJ has gone hybrid which first offers the first click free and then requires a subscription. Some content will be available through the free click program but not all.
In the particular case of the Safari privacy content you would not be able to read it without a subscription. I was waiting for the $150 yearly renewal price which would give me web access and home delivery for the WSJ but ultimately wanted to read the story that day so I renewed for the $260 listing price which granted me immediate access. After paying for subscription I know now that the article can be read for free which is very clever of WSJ. Once it became outdated there was no longer a value to the article but it still allows traffic to be built off of the ad.
The biggest problem that WSJ faces is that Google may soon change their mind and disallow selective withholding. Since WSJ is currently withholding a lot of its content it’s forcing a subscription to most viewers. Since most sites are either First Click Free or subscription only Google will eventually need to figure out how to deal with the hybrid issue.