Subscription and paywalled content

We‘ve removed the First Click Free requirement for publishers on Search and News. Read more about the new policy on our blog.

In the past, our First Click Free (FCF) policy provided a way for subscription sites to be included in Search in spite of their content not generally being available to users. FCF required publishers to provide a limited amount of free content to Google Search users on a daily basis. Over the years, we’ve worked with publishing partners to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between free sampling and conversion.

Flexible Sampling

As a result of our learning, we decided to transition from our FCF program and its fixed, free-sampling requirement to a Flexible Sampling model. Publishers determine their own optimal rate of sampling based on their ongoing experience using free samples to attract new users and using the paywall to elicit user registration or subscription.

How to indicate paywalled content

Publishers should enclose paywalled content with structured data to help Google differentiate paywalled content from the practice of cloaking, where the content served to Googlebot is different from the content served to users. If no structured data is provided to indicate the paywall, the paywall may be mistaken for a form of cloaking and the content could be removed from Google.

For detailed specifications on implementing the structured data, visit our Developer documentation

We encourage publishers to experiment cautiously with different amounts of free sampling so as not to unintentionally degrade user experience and reduce traffic coming from Google. Read our general guidance for Flexible Sampling before getting started.

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