Back in 2009, news came out that News Corp. would block search engines from some of its content, such as that from The Times and The Sunday Times. Now, it seems News Corp. has had a change of heart. Kind of.
According to The Telegraph, content from these publications will begin appearing in Google results next month. However, it won't just be showing full content to searchers. According to PaidContent, it will just show the first two sentence to search engines, and the rest will remain behind a paywall. Robert Andrews reports:
The limited free preview does not alter News International’s belief that it should continue charging for The Times (visitors will be invited to subscribe to read full articles). But it does suggest that, having signed up 130,751 digital subscribers since mid-2010, the publisher is having to look in new places to maintain customer acquisition momentum.
The whole thing shows that despite News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch's classic argument about Google being a "thief" or "pirate," search engines clearly provide a valuable resource to publishers. Even if these publications aren't making their entire contents indexable (which would almost certainly lead to more links and increased exposure), it shows they do have some amount of dependence on search traffic. It will be interesting to see how only giving users the first two sentences helps the sign-up numbers.