Google have announced today that newspaper publishers will be able to put a cap on the number of news articles accessible for free through Google by allowing the setting of a limit of 5 free article views a day for news subscription sites.

This move from Google follows criticism that Google has profited from having links to online news pages. Previously Google has treated each click from the search engine as free. This allowed users unrestricted access to subscription only sites when they clicked through from Google search results. This is because newspapers allowed Google inside their paywall to index their content and as a result searches linked directly to newspaper articles, thus bypassing some sites’ subscription systems.

Google have now updated their system so that publishers can enforce their own limits before asking users to pay per day, register or subscribe. Another possibility will be to allow users to view the headline and first few paragraphs of news stories before being asked to pay to read further. Regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press, for example, is currently testing a system which allows users to view news content for 3 months for £5.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced as early as August this year that he intended to charge internet users access to his online news sites The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times and The News of The World. So this will be a joyous day for him in his ongoing battle with Google.

This move will only affect sites which currently charge for content. However amid dwindling revenue from advertising and circulation newspapers are continuously searching for new ways to profit from their online news sites. This looks set to make a widespread change to the accessibility of online news, under these circumstances SEO will become even more important as newspapers grapple for subscriptions and online loyalty.

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