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Google Says Goodbye to 'First Click Free' Requirement

Google Says Goodbye to ‘First Click Free’ Requirement

To encourage high-quality content, Google got rid of the First Click Free requirement for web and news publishers as announced October 1st.

“It is difficult to justify a subscription if one doesn’t already know how valuable the content is, and in fact, our experiments have shown that a portion of users shy away from subscription sites.” – from Google Webmaster

About the FCF Requirement

First Click Free was a feature that sought to help users find subscription content through Google.

How do you surf the internet?

Internet surfers come with different purposes. Some browse casually and simply hop from one topic and article source to another. There are, on the other hand, those who are intently looking for leads or news that could enrich their knowledge and understanding of a specific topic.

But with the massive amount of content released on the internet each day, how are they to find them?

FCF gave publishers a way to promote their subscription content by configuring their websites accordingly.

Where such contents could be found:

  • Google Search
  • Google News

A subscription tag would appear right below the title of the content to notify the reader about it.

Here’s an example…

Google Says Goodbye to 'First Click Free' Requirement

An article listed under News

Once clicked, the reader would be directed to the post without having to go through the subscription page. From the name of the feature itself, that first content that the reader clicks is free for him to read and enjoy.

He would be required to register or to log in should he choose to read more from the same publisher.

Now that First Click Free is Gone…

According to Google, FCF proved rather helpful in coming up with sampling strategies. But it did not necessarily mean that it also did well for conversions.

They found that readers tend to avoid paid content and instead resort to the free articles online.

Thus, came their decision to remove the First Click Free requirement for Google Search.

What are publishers to do?

Needless to say, subscriptions aren’t all about having a strategy. You also need results from those strategies you implemented.

But to continue with their subscription content, publishers are encouraged to explore free sampling schemes.

Two Types of Free Sampling

Also called as flexible sampling, publishers have the liberty to conduct different sampling schemes they choose. They can do anything as long as they stick to Google’s best practices.

Here are the two types of schemes:

1. Metering

Give your readers a limited number of articles to read for free. Once they’ve consumed their free pass, that is when you can ask them to subscribe and pay for the next articles they wish to read.

One example publisher is Harvard Business Review. They offer a free read for the first three articles that their site users come across.

Readers would know the number of free articles they have left through their Subscribe + Save bar at the bottom of each page.

2. Lead-In

Give your readers the first few sentences or paragraphs of the content they come across. In a way, this scheme gives readers the power to decide whether to continue reading or not. It also provides them with a sense of how valuable your content must be.

An example publisher is the World Trademark Review as shown in the sample image above.

Readers will be directed to a page that shows the first three sentences of the content. Should they wish to continue, they have the option to subscribe for free in the span of three weeks. The subscription trial also comes with a free magazine.

Paying for High-Quality Content

With such a large volume of contents released each day, how do publishers — or businesses — stand out?

Monetizing high-quality content does make it more exclusive and of more value than as perceived by the naked eyes. It is also quite practical considering the great deal of effort exerted for each piece of content.

When implementing any of the schemes, among the things that business may consider are:

  • The average number of contents that a reader can consume in a day – How far can a reader dive into a subscription?
  • Type of content that he is putting out – Is it a review, a case study, or strictly news perhaps?

Overall, even without the First Click Free requirement, having a strategy that will ultimately generate more conversions is essential to success.

Final Thoughts

Speaking of strategies to increase conversions, there have been other ways apart from the First Free Click. To name a few, we have chatbot marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing. They have been proven time and again across platforms and niches.

Businesses from different industries can definitely implement these strategies as they desire. They can also be creative with how they use them.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it; they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile.” – Steve Jobs

How far are you willing to go with your ideas?

As every one of us continues to thrive online, Google also encouraged to help create a free and open environment for all. That means keeping up with the good practices and avoiding any malicious techniques.

What are your thoughts on Google Says Goodbye to ‘First Click Free’ Requirement? Feel free to share them with others in the comments below.

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