Google announced that they are changing the “First Click Free” program based on publisher feedback. The First Click Free program enables publishers who provide content behind a paywall the ability to allow Google and some users the ability to see that content, for free, based on the number of times a user clicks over from Google to the publisher site.
Previously, a user would be able to see free content from a participating publisher for free, but only up to five articles. Now, Google said they are reducing that to three articles based on publisher feedback.
The rational seems to be that with more individual users having more devices, i.e. desktop, tablet and mobile phone, they are able to access content for free five times multiplied by the number of devices. By reducing it to three articles, that drops the overall number of potential free content a single user can get.
So a user with a desktop, tablet and mobile phone would potentially be able to access 15 articles for free. By dropping the number to three articles, now the user would only be able to access nine articles per day.
John Mueller said that publishers still have control to determine how to count a user’s accesses. But this change is valid on both Google Search and Google News. This change was done based on the new “multi-screen, multiple device world we now live in,” John explained.