First Click Free: Accessing Subscription-Based Articles For Free Via Google News

The Google News Blog wrote about the First click free program that allows publishers to let readers pass registration and subscription barriers, if they come from Google News.

I am sure you have seen this in action. You see an article, you click on it from Google News and you are able to read the full article. Then you want to see the article again an hour or so later, but the publisher asks you to login to see the full article. That is the “first click free” program in action.

Sometimes publishers do not want even the first click to be free, in those cases, Google will label that news result with a “subscription” tag, so the user knows you need to be a subscriber to read the content. Here is an example of what that may look like in Google news:

Google News Subscription Tag

The “First click free” program isn’t new, just not that well known. Danny covered it in his YADAC: Yet Another Debate About Cloaking Happens Again article. I also wrote about it at the Search Engine Roundtable in How To Allow Google News To Index Your Subscription Only Source?

In addition, we had two Sphinn discussions on this topic. The first was started by Danny and named Got Registration? Cloaking Google News Is Now Officially OK and the second was started by Sebastian and named Cloaking is alive and doing well in Google.

Of course, if Google News allows this form of cloaking, why can’t others use it in Google web search? Heck, we have Google Universal Search now, so Google News can be directly embedded in the Web search results and those results can participate in the First click free program.

Somewhat related, Academic Publishers as Spammers from covers how through other program such as Google Scholar, cloaked pages are allowed into Google.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: News | SEO: Cloaking & Doorway Pages


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Ciarán

    We had many discussions with Google about this when I was at RBI, but they could never reassure us about security; in other words, what’s to stop spammers coming up with a script that searches for every article on your site, and gets to each one via FCF.

    It’ll be interesting to see whether they have addressed this, and also of course, how relevant it will even be as more & more publishers give up on the subscription model.

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