If you ask some SEO experts, ‘what is high-quality content?’ you will find everyone is giving a different explanation. In reality, quality content and content marketing are not the same thing. They vary widely. When quality content is marketed with proper marketing strategies, it gains ranks on search engines. Two major revenue sources are balancing the world of online publishers:
Subscriptions: In this case, the content can be accesssed by the audiences only when they go for subscriptions. Becoming a subscriber means accessing the content after paying a certain amount of sum regularly.
Ads: Unlike subscriptions, anyone can read the ads’ content just by clicking on it.
Oftentimes, users avoid going for subscriptions, and hence, they don’t take interest in reading the content behind this paywall. Hence, it becomes crucial to offer some free content or its preview to the users so that they can have an idea of what they can read if they subscribe.
Both News and Google searches were facing this problem for several years. The policy of First Click Free or FCF was framed to address this issue. This policy enabled the publishers to promote their content with subscription. Moreover, it also gives the users the chance to access that content without subscription.
So, is FCF successful? Various studies conducted over the past years show that in comparison to FCF, publishers themselves can determine better what strategy works for them and which one is not working. They just need to update the guidelines of webmaster to get better result. This free sampling scheme is known as Flexible Sampling.
FCF was originally created to solve the cloaking issue. The content that is presented to the users is not the same as that used to serve Googlebot. Many a time, spammers show Googlebot an interesting content. But, when a user clicks on it, he or she finds that the content is promoting a particular product, for example, ‘Eat this pill to lose weight in 2 weeks’. At that time, the user become irritated and jumpt to other content. This aversion occurs because the user is not getting what he or she was looking for. We call this ‘Bait and Switch’ scheme which brings down the user’s experience.
Therefore, it is advised to the subscription sites to use the new structured data in their web pages. If they don’t do so, then the users will consider these as fake sites. Ultimately, Google will remove them from SERPs.
Flexible sampling can be used in two main types:
Lead-In: Offering only a preview of the content.
Metering: Users can access articles absolutely free for a certain period of time, after which he or she can subscribe.
Lead-in enable the readers to get a taste of how interesting the content is. For that, it shows them a preview of 50-100 lines of the article. After that, the content will be made completely inaccessible to the users.
For enabling the users to read quality content, metering is more effective. It offers a safe option to the users. The viewpoint of audiences and publishers vary from one to another. Consequently, the number of free samples they should provide to the users will differ. Averagely said, 10 free samples are enough to satisfy your readers.
Users and the publishers can benefit by the above-said two metrics. The publishers should make sure that they are optimizing the tradeoff to calculate the growth percentage.