Google News Feeds

by admin on 27/05/2010

How News Sites Plan to Protect Their Bottom Lines in a World of Ubiquitous Google News Feed

If you have a Google News feed set up for information on a particular subject, how do you know that the Googlebot – the web crawler that goes all around collecting news information like you request, can bring you news from sources that require users to register or pay a fee for being allowed access? Surely Google’s Web crawler is not considered a registered user that it would be allowed access to protected content? It’s not up to the web crawler to make sure that all of this works – it’s up to the website to make sure that they allow search engines access, because if they don’t, they’ll lose out on a major source of traffic. But this isn’t free of complications either. If the website allows a search engine access for search purposes but won’t let readers through, this is considered a deceptive practice. They even have a word for it – cloaking. And the search engines hate it.

This is why news publishers have come up with an interesting and new kind of access – they call it ‘First click free’. If this isn’t self-explanatory, this is when a user’s Google News feed is allowed access to a page, and then, the user can click on the link to arrive at the page to read all of it too. What the user can’t do is navigate from that page to any other on that website – even to page 2 of the same story. This neatly gets around the problem where a search engine disapproves of what it considers a bait and switch where the website will allow it to display it on a search results page but not allow a user access to the story listed without some form of commitment. How do they make sure that you can’t access other pages?  They make sure that when you arrive on their website from a Google News feed, you’re not allowed access to their website more than a specific number of times in the day without payment.

To make this ‘first click free’ method happen, the search engine implements an identifier to each user to determine how many times he arrives at a restricted website. Sometimes, users’ IP addresses are used. Any news service that wishes to make use of this needs merely to contact Google News and tell them. If they don’t of course, they’ll run into traffic issues with Google.

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