Google amends restrictions on 'free news'

In an effort to help publishers grow their subscription revenues, Google has announced that it will relax its rules regarding how many free articles subscription news sites have to provide to its users daily to remain high in its search results. 

The company's “first click free” policy has been in place for the last decade to help non-subscribers overcome paywalls when clicking on news articles from its search engine.  News sites would have to provide users with three free articles per day or risk falling lower in Google search results. 

While Google believed that free samples would encourage users to subscribe to their favourite news sites, this hasn't been the case and large media companies have argued against the company's policy. 

The company's vice president for news, Richard Gingras offered further insight as to why Google is relaxing its rules for publishers, saying:  

“Over the last year we got clear indications that, yes, it was going to be important for publishers to grow subscription revenues.  Google search is valuable because there's a rich ecosystem out there.  To the extent that the web is healthy, that's very good for our core business.  Our objective is not for this to be a new line of business.” 

Not only will Google relax its rules for subscription news sites but in the coming months it is also planning to launch free software for publishers that allows users to pay for subscriptions using the credit card information they have already provided for Google Play purchases.  This will allow users to quickly and easily subscribe to their favourite news outlets without having to provide any additional information. 

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