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Google Clarifies "First Click Free"

 6:40 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google Clarifies "First Click Free" [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com]
While we're happy to see that a number of publishers are already using First Click Free, we've found that some who might try it are worried about people abusing the spirit of First Click Free to access almost all of their content. As most users are generally happy to be able to access just a few pages from these premium content providers, we've decided to allow publishers to limit the number of accesses under the First Click Free policy to five free accesses per user each day. This change applies to both Google News publishers as well as websites indexed in Google's Web Search. We hope that this encourages even more publishers to open up more content to users around the world!



 8:13 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Wonder if this has anything to do with the recent Bing/Newscorp discussions [webmasterworld.com].


 9:23 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

5 free pages is a far cry from "1st click free!" which to me means 1 page free, not 5!

Is it just me or is it getting sillier and sillier?


 10:15 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Maths lesson for the dumbos at G:

# - ONE
a very small number, a number that does not even require plurals when used in front of nouns. If you take whole integers off this number, you very quickly end up at zero.

##### - FIVE
this is a larger number. It's like the first number we looked at, but then some more. Look at the difference between this and the first number...look at it visually. There are many more of these here, aren't there?

Next week - Copyright 101, Fair Use vs. Downright daylight robbery. Tune in.


 10:36 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Isn't this a problem than can be solved through cookies?


 11:04 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have a different understanding. Initially, "First click free" could be used to get one page upon entry to a site, but it could be used a limitless number of times per day from different entry points. Now you still get one page upon entering a site, but the publisher can limit use to only five times in a 24-hour period. Maybe not the panacea that publishers are looking for, but at least a step in the right direction.


 11:53 pm on Dec 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm thinking the same thing you are incrediBILL. Silly.


 1:31 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Isn't this a problem than can be solved through cookies?

And cookies are easily discardable, but as long as the cookie is accepted and kept it'll work.


 1:43 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

For anyone intent on implementing this for a website, this clarification will be helpful. Of course, you could argue from now until the end of time whether the precise figure should be 1, 3, 5 or 10, etc, per hour, day or week but at least there is clarity.

Personally, I think this may be too generous to users and too restrictive for content providers. By that, I mean that content providers should be given more scope to experiment with what best suits their sites. For instance, a webmaster might wish to implement one free access every five minutes with a daily limit of ten.

From the content-provider's point of view, it's always going to be a balancing act between providing a taster to encourage enrollment and giving away so much that people don't need to enroll. Whilst Google's policy is clear and simple, one size will not fit all.

Also, users should know in advance of the existence and nature of restricted sites. Restrictions could be registered in the site map (or elsewhere) and could be displayed below the page title in the SERPS. The nature of the restriction should also be displayed on the website.



 2:50 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Is this idea of successfully restricting my access stupid or is it me? Could easily be the latter. Wouldn't be the first time.


 3:08 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Maths lesson for the dumbos at G:...Next week - Copyright 101, Fair Use vs. Downright daylight robbery. Tune in.

Unless I'm missing something, "First Click Free" is simply a marketing tool that publishers can use or not, as they (not Google) see fit. Publishers who don't like how it works can simply ignore it.


 3:18 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)



 3:32 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I hear that according to Google's reasoning:

"Sponsored Content" = "Featured Content"

so I'm not surprised in this simple 'math mistake' ;).


 4:43 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have premium content. And do you know what I do to give a taster to users? Yes, that's right. *I* have organised free samples on my site. I don't need Google or anyone else to step in to do that for me. To, you know, "improve the Google user experience". I run my business and I've offered free samples since day one.

Everyone laughed when I mentioned a G robots.txt boycott a month or two ago. This is another half step towards it.


 7:55 am on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm almost tempted to speak up about the minimal impact this will have on enrollment figures anyway but I'm reminded that I earn a fantastic living by keeping my sites 100% free so I'll keep my thoughts to myself.


 12:56 pm on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Maybe Google should just stop indexing content that's behind a paywall. Either that, or identify it with a "Payment Required" or "Payment Required (First Click Free)" warning in the SERPs. That would improve the Google user experience.


 2:40 pm on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

As I understand it the first click free system is to allow content from sources which charge for access to be shown without a "Payment required" or similar notice. The first click means the click from Google to the site; the second click (from the landing article to another) can prompt for payment.

The clarification here relates to stopping people just copying the headline they want to see back into google, then seeing that article free as well. So; this means they can only pull up 5 articles under the first-click-free system, after which the publisher can ask them to pay - without violating the first-click-free agreement.


 4:37 pm on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Someone needs to explain this to me: lets say a site is subscription based only, but with FCF, they can remove the need for subscription, for one click only? Is that it?

I understand the economic motive behind wanting tho use this feature (get the user interested and not turned down by a subscription page right away) but also anyone who uses this must be aware of the consequences (that it will be cheated, as everything that can be cheated on the Web is)

Here is a BCC article [news.bbc.co.uk] on the topic that completely confuses me:

Some readers have discovered they can avoid paying subscription fees to newspaper websites by calling up their pages via Google.

Does that mean that "every" first click was free? That is, if I click a story on a paid site from Google, because it was considered a first click, it was always free? If so, then this is dementedly stupid, and any site that was participating has only themselves to blame.

If you want your content to be private, then put a subscription wall in front of it, but let Google crawl it, and request for the "cached" option to be removed. It's as simple as that.


 4:52 pm on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)


I am starting to think that this is the best answer... ;)


 5:02 pm on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Since this doesn't affect me, I haven't paid much attention, but my understanding was that "First click free" meant that a referral from Google ensured access to the whole article. I assume this "clarification" means that websites will not be considered to be rule-breakers if they limit this to five pages per day.

As for cloaking, my interpretation of this "clarification" is that it specifically permits cloaking, however the first 5 referrals from google must deliver the indexed page.



 1:53 am on Dec 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

This first-click-free system is not new. What is new is the permission to publishers to stop giving free clicks after someone has used five in a given day.

first-click-free could more accurately be called direct-clicks-free because that is what it means. Direct clicks from Google result in viewing paid content for free (that is something the publisher deliberately allows and programs into their system). First here means 'first click in path from Google'.

The new rule is only that the publisher can stop giving out free content to people clicking directly from Google after they have given five free articles in a day. It is to discourage/limit abuse. The publishers are not giving away anything extra here, they are actually benefiting from this NOT losing. They are gaining the permission to stay within the first-click-free program yet still stop giving free content after five articles... that is a benefit to them.

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