Additional technical guidelines

Registration/subscription sites

Generally, our users (who may become your users) have indicated that they prefer not to encounter a registration or subscription page immediately upon following a link on Google News. If you are a subscription or registration site, there are three approaches to how you can be indexed in Google News:

  1. First click free: We've worked with subscription-based news services to arrange that the very first article seen by a Google News user (identifiable by referrer) doesn't require a subscription. Although this first article can be seen without subscribing, any further clicks on the article page will prompt the user to log-in or subscribe to the news site.

    This is our preferred solution since it can benefit both our users and our publisher partners. It allows Googlebot to fully index your content, which can improve the likelihood of users visiting your site; and it allows users to view the article of interest while also encouraging them to subscribe.

    It is possible to limit the number of free articles that a Google News reader can access via First Click Free. A user coming from the domain [*.google.*] must be able to see a minimum of 5 articles per day. This practice is described as “metering” the user: when the user has clicked on too many of a publisher’s articles from Google News, the meter for freely accessible articles on that site is exhausted. If your site meters access on a weekly or monthly basis, you are still responsible for showing a minimum of five articles per day to Google users. Otherwise, your site will be treated as a subscription site.

    If your site has been set up using the First Click Free model but you are being labeled as "subscription" in Google News, please contact us so we can help.

  2. Subscription designation, snippets only: If First Click Free isn't a feasible option for you, we will display the "subscription" tag next to the publication name of all sources that greet our users with a subscription or registration form. This signals to our users that they may be required to register or subscribe on your site in order to access the article. This setting will only apply to Google News results.

    If you prefer this option, please display a snippet of your article that is at least 80 words long and includes either an excerpt or a summary of the specific article. Since we do not permit "cloaking" -- the practice of showing Googlebot a full version of your article while showing users the subscription or registration version -- we will only crawl and display your content based on the article snippets you provide. If you currently cloak for Googlebot-news but not for Googlebot, you do not need to make any changes; Google News crawls with Googlebot and automatically uses the 80-word snippet.

    NOTE: If you cloak for Googlebot, your site may be subject to Google Webmaster penalties. Please review Webmaster Guidelines to learn about best practices.

  3. Robots.txt and Sitemaps: Lastly, if you have subscription content anywhere on your site that you want disallowed or excluded from Google News (or all of Google), you can state this preference in your robots.txt file. For instance, if you have some content that is freely accessible and other content that requires a subscription, you could put the subscription content under one section of your site, and apply robots.txt to that section. In this case, Googlebot would not crawl or index anything on that section, not even for snippets. Learn more about using robots.txt. Another option is changing to crawl sitemap only and then specifying the access level for each article (free, registration, subscription) within the sitemap. If you're able to make the necessary changes to allow us to crawl only your news content, please let us know and we'll be happy to review or update your site in our system.

To summarize, we will crawl and index your site to the extent that you allow Googlebot to access it. In order to provide the best possible user experience and help more users discover your content, we encourage you to try First Click Free. If you prefer to limit access to your site to subscribers only, we will respect your decision and show a “subscription” label next to your links on Google News.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this process.