According to this Bloomberg report, the Wall Street Journal’s decision to drop the “one click free” access to its paid content through Google search has led to a dramatic 44 percent drop in traffic from Google.
It seems the Google algorithm favors free content. Which doesn’t make much sense if Google is interested in providing access to quality content to its users.
Media companies that charge for content do so because their content is worth paying for – people will pay for information that is trustworthy, accurate, original and often unique. The Wall Street Journal has built its business on this.
Google argues that free access to a limited number of articles is good for publishers because it provides a better chance of attracting potential subscribers. But is this strategy decision really Google’s to make?
The Wall Street Journal decided to stop providing sample articles to Google users when it discovered that nearly 1 million people a month had found a way around the three-article limit and were avoiding subscribing for more.
The Journal now offers a snippet of articles. Users can decide if it is content they’re looking for, and subscribe to get it. But that only works if they can find it.
Google talks a lot about the need to provide quality content. Punishing paid content sites isn’t the way to go about it.