Google Ends First Click Free, and Beats Amazon on Product Discovery

Google beats Amazon on product discovery for audience development; Google tries to help publishers by ending ‘first click free’; The importance of links for rank shared by Stone Temple

Keeping an eye on Google’s changes is one way digital publishers are able to stay up-to-date on the best audience development strategies for the market-leading search engine, and today we’re looking at news on changes to Google search that may impact and influence publisher decisions, including their conclusion of their first click free program.


Our first story looks at the competition between Google and Amazon for product search. Search Engine Land reports, “According to the survey, more people across these markets actually use Google in shopping and product discovery, however, Amazon is consulted by 56 percent as their starting point.”

The article continues with some interesting facts on users’ connection to Amazon for shopping. “The survey found that 26 percent check Amazon in retail stores. This “showrooming” behavior is not a new finding, but it’s a significant figure.”

Perhaps the most impressive stat on the use of Amazon for product searches from the article is that 51 percent will look at Amazon for further information and reviews, even if the information from the original site appears accurate. 

Our next story looks at Google’s involvement with publisher’s content and the ending of the “first click free” (FCF) program, which may lead to better audience development and more subscription sales. Search Engine Land reports, “Google will allow publishers to offer FCF on a voluntary basis, but failure to do so won’t result in any rankings hit. FCF was introduced in 2007 as a way to expose subscription content to search users so that they wouldn’t be frustrated by paywalls and to help them test-drive content as an enticement to later subscribe.”

FCF has been unevenly enforced and adjusted by Google over the years. It has been controversial among publishers. In particular, News Corp (parent of the WSJ) has been a vocal critic of Google and its policies toward publishers. The end of FCF was reportedly “negotiated” between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and News Corp CEO Robert Thomson.”

The article continues with a look at how ending FCF may help publishers. “Ending FCF would be consistent with a broader, multifaceted effort by Google to help publishers increase subscription revenue.”

Our final story looks at research on links and their relationship to rank in Google search. There is a lot of information in this article and you can visit it for direct case studies and extensive insight. Here are the major points for links being strong signals from Stone Temple:

When you implement a link, you are making a public endorsement identifying your brand with the web page that you’re linking to. In addition, it’s static. It sits there in an enduring manner. In contrast, with a link in a social media post, it’s gone from people’s feeds quickly, sometimes only in minutes.”

When you implement a link on a page on your site, people might click on it and leave your site.”

Do you need help developing an audience development strategy for your digital publication? If so, set up a time to chat with us. We have extensive experience helping publishing brands navigate Google search and increase organic traffic significantly.


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