Wall Street Journal’s Google traffic drops 44% after pulling out of First Click Free

In February, The Wall Street Journal stopped participating in a program allowing Google visitors to bypass its paywall. The publication has now discovered, as was predicted, that it no longer gets as much traffic from Google.
In an interview with Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal reported that its Google traffic plunged 44 percent after leaving the “First Click Free” program.
First Click Free allows visitors from Google to access articles that are normally behind paywalls for free, when they click to them from Google’s search results. Many publishers participate in the program because they find the traffic and related ad-revenue offsets potential lost subscription revenue.
When a publisher is not in the program, Google cannot fully index the articles it publishes. That means those articles are less likely to appear for a wider range of topics. That can hurt potential traffic from Google. In addition, such articles are also listed with a “subscription” designation next to them, which might put

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