A paywall restricts web content for users and makes the same accessible by charging a fee or subscription model. There are many reasons behind a website locking up their content, for a start they need to generate revenue for maintenance of the website and their service. They also need to ensure that they keep delivering quality content and that can only be done when proper writers and journalists are employed, and these usually command higher salaries and rates.
The internet is a different medium altogether and debates and discussions over the regulation of information are endless. Since Google is a service provider, its users expect a better experience when it comes to interaction between the search engine and the user. This experience is sometimes crippled by the policies of the company and a lack of transparency in certain matters, such as those concerning paywall labels.
A paywall label is a label that displays whether the content is free or paid in the results of a search engine. Labeling paywalls on Google’s results page has had some opposing viewpoints, with some seeing that it can streamline and improve the user experience and some think that it will kill quality journalism. Both sides have valid arguments in support and opposition to the paywall label. Nevertheless, here are some of the benefits that search engines like Google can have from a paywall label.
The benefits of a paywall label for a search engine like Google depend upon the value they can deliver to their users. Therefore, the value of saving time in searching for quick results can drive profits for it. These days, people search for almost everything on Google, whether it’s restaurants, walking routes, travel packages, product details, etc. As is often the case, they end up clicking on the most popular results which in turn could end up being locked or require a subscription for full access. This can waste precious time for the users if they require the information urgently. A recent poll investigated the issue and found that close to 70% of users would prefer to have a label next to their search results. Having such a facility would allow for a better, more efficient user experience and would guarantee further engagement.
Search engine priority
Providing paywall labels in search results will allow users to be less frustrated and offer less friction in accessing information. Such actions will encourage the user to use a particular search engine more and will ensure that these users keep Google (or any other search engine, for that matter) on their high priority list when it comes to accessing information.
Even though the user already has a choice when it comes to reading paid content versus free content, providing a paywall label simplifies search results and gives the user more power over the content they want to see or read by allowing efficient navigation through the results.
All these benefits might seem more on the user side but as mentioned already, those reaped by search engines or service providers like Google will depend upon the value they can offer its users.