The paywall label is a somewhat contentious topic these days, with some people agreeing with it and others not. There is an ongoing discussion on whether Google should start labeling paywall content so that users can access information without any hassle. As mentioned, much debate is going on and both sides have valid arguments, such as those who see an improved user experience if Google allows paywall labels. On the other side, there is the fear of businesses ending up at the bottom because of it, if the consumers don’t even turn up. There is much to talk about, and the following are the pros and cons of paywall labels.
Providing paywall labels will ensure a better user experience, as it will allow users to skip over those articles that ask for payment. It will further streamline the search results and efficient information accessibility on part of the user. As highlighted in a recent poll, the clarity of labeling is preferred by over 65% of users. When it comes to accessing information, the prevalent process is using a search engine to list out all the possible results irrespective of the fact whether one can access the information or not. In many cases, users are left frustrated with the inherent friction in accessing the information on a website because of its paid nature. Consequently, the user ends up searching many websites only to find the content locked. If the user is notified beforehand in the search results whether they can access the information owing to its paid or free nature, it will save the user’s time and will ensure that a better experience is had.
Search Engine Visibility
Users will use better services that deliver value to them, if search engines will take care of their users’ expectations and allow efficient results. If they guide them in finding and getting what they desire, chances are that these users will always choose the same search engine for all their queries. Therefore, providing a better user experience will help that search engine provider gain priority in the user’s life for their online activities.
Paid websites will lose revenue
There are many businesses on the internet and their revenue lies in the paid services they provide. If Google starts labeling paywalls, chances are that users will skip or overlook the paid content and flock towards free and often worse sources for information. Paid content is always considered as quality content, and Google with its search results drives traffic to these websites that are dependent upon new customers it attracts by offering this information. Paywall labels will destroy the already existing manner of gaining new subscribers, which in turn will kill the websites or the company running it all together. Therefore, labeling paywalls can have adverse effects on online businesses.
Erosion of quality content
If users start flocking towards free content, there is an argument to be made that it will encourage mediocre sources of information to rise and erode quality content, given the fact that we already know how algorithms and search engine optimization works. The nature in which content is shared across the internet further adds to the problem of blurring the distinction between fact and fiction, a crucial issue on a global scale.
The user experience, search engine visibility, losing revenue, and erosion of quality are the biggest pros and cons when it comes to labeling paywalls. As it stands today, a balance needs to be achieved if all parties involved wish to be satisfied, but it is ultimately the user that needs to take priority in driving forward the initiative.