Google Removing First Click Free Requirement For Publishers

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In a recent webmaster blog post, Google announced that it is removing the first click free requirement for publishers, stating that it will be replacing it with a model called 'flexible sampling'


"The First Click Free (FCF) policy for both Google web search and News was designed to address this issue. It offers promotion and discovery opportunities for publishers with subscription content, while giving Google users an opportunity to discover that content. Over the past year, we have worked with publishers to investigate the effects of FCF on user satisfaction and on the sustainability of the publishing ecosystem. We found that while FCF is a reasonable sampling model, publishers are in a better position to determine what specific sampling strategy works best for them. Therefore, we are removing FCF as a requirement for Search, and we encourage publishers to experiment with different free sampling schemes, as long as they stay within the updated webmaster guidelines. We call this Flexible Sampling."


Google also released a new set of best practices for flexible sampling where are detailed here. Another thing mentioned was how to address cloaking. Google recommends using structured data to avoid potential issues around cloaking that may arise from paywalls.

Read full annoucement from Google here.



That first click free policy

That first click free policy was never particularly liked by publishers. I suspect Google has finally realised that they need publishers to make money, so lets hope this new policy works.

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