Should Google Remove News Sites with Paywalls from Search? May Need To Push The Knife a Little Deeper Into Declining Newspaper Business

Due to declining readership of print, many newspapers are rolling out paid online subscriptions, which according to the American Press Institute, average about $10 per month (median price of digital subscriptions at US newspapers). File photo: Pixabay.

PALM BEACH, FL – Google is all about user experience. They want to have the absolute best search results, that offer the highest quality content; a clean and fast loading website result, that offers a good user experience. That’s how Google keeps hold of near 90 percent of web searches; by providing not only great high quality search results, but a positive user experience, always.

To maintain this superiority, this author has a suggestion for Google, which they might want to take into consideration for a continued high-quality user experience; an opinion can be taken only as feedback and is specific to Google’s “News” product and news search results. I’m confident plenty of people will agree.

The need is growing to remove sites that hide their content behind a subscription process or paywall.

It is frustrating, to say the least, when clicking on websites that require users to login to an account in which they do not have, in order read news stories and/or information searched for and, and for me personally, (thought) I found.

It’s severely annoying and counterproductive. It wastes time and is frustrating as a user. It causes the immediate need to click back and find a better result – increasing the time taken to find what is being searched for. It also should be plain to see as it increases the “bounce rate” of searches on Google News, something Google takes into account in order to return high quality search results (at least when it comes to mobile searches).

People want to quickly pay bills on finance sites, get rapid results when they’re browsing vacation reviews, and view an article immediately when they click through. And if there’s too much friction, they’ll abandon the site and move on.

Think With Google, Daniel An, Mobile, Data & Measurement

It’s clear to see and they say it themselves, as pointed out; Yes, people want to view an article immediately when they click on it and when there’s too much friction, they’ll abandon the site and move on.

If Google truly cares about user-experience. They will soon, in my opinion, have no choice but to remove these subscription sites from Google news search results or build-in some sort of an add-on option that will allow users to include in their Google News preferences or settings a list of all the news sites they have subscriptions to, so they are not continually being led to sites they cannot read or use.

Google describes a bounce-rate as:

A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.

Google Inc. – Help Center – Analytics Help

There must be an incredible amount of bounce-back data available to Google from users who continually click back on news results out of frustration. I’m just one person and I’m doing it continually all day long during research. I’m sure I am not alone.

Of course this problem is specific to News search and not ordinary web results as news sites are the ones mostly moving to Paywalls, and Google news search is specific to newspapers, blogs, authors, and news focused publications.

Due to declining readership of print, many newspapers are rolling out paid online subscriptions, which according to the American Press Institute, average about $10 per month (median price of digital subscriptions at US newspapers). That’s all fine and great, but there is a limited amount of subscriptions users will sign up for and they can’t sign up for them all.

As more and more news sites move to online subscriptions, the problem with paywall sites in news search will inevitably get much worse with time – and not everyone wants to switch back and forth between incognito-mode or private browsing to read something. There needs to be a way that search engines can identify if a user has a subscription to a particular publication before returning it in search results.

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