‘News Geek’ Google CEO Appeases Publishers With End to ‘First Click Free’


A few years ago, Google regularly traded barbs with major news publishers in public. Today, Google is rewiring its search engine to appease them.

The Alphabet unit is scrapping a contentious search result rule for subscription news sites and giving them new tools to attract more paying customers. It’s Google’s most significant step yet to to curry favor with news organizations that provide information for its search engine but have lost ad revenue from the rise of the internet. Facebook, the primary driver of online news traffic, is taking similar steps.

The biggest change is Google’s decision to eliminate its “first click free” program. This listed articles higher in search results if publishers agreed to offer some stories for free. Google is now pledging to index all subscription news outlets in search, let publishers determine how many articles to provide free through the search engine, and will not demote them in results if they have little or no free content.

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