Google Replaces ‘First Click Free’ With ‘Flexible Sampling’

To the delight of most online news publications, Google has rolled back its “First Click Free” program with another program which is being called “Flexible Sampling”. Publishers were not pleased with the earlier program, therefore, the news of this change is warmly welcomed by almost everybody. “First Click Free” was highly debated because it didn’t let publications to support themselves with advertising. However, after the change, now publishers can monitor and control the articles they want to make available to searchers before prompting for subscription or directing them to the paywall.


Although the change has given more flexibility to publishers, at the same time, Google has advised that some content should be made available for free in search results. Also, Google has suggested publishers take any of the two types of recommended sampling methods.

  • Publisher can make some part of an article available for free and for further reading, one has to subscribe or pay.
  • Publishers can also allot certain quota of free articles per user before asking consumers to subscribe.

For subscription optimization, Google will identify and figure out consumers who are likely to subscribe. However, for successful optimization implementation, Google will require publishers to share profiles of their audiences and accordingly it will seek out for a similar type of consumers. It is also making template type standardized checkout flow for easy subscription process, which publishers can adopt, modify or ignore, according to their requirements.
Although organic results will not be affected, Google will show the content of a given publisher in a box and on the top of the people who have already subscribed it.

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