London Times Will Allow Partial Google Search Indexing, Still Retain Paywall

James Johnson

In 2009 News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch shut down the London Times from the prying eyes of Google search spiders. Murdoch at the time believed the publication could survive with a paypall in place that requires a subscription to access content without first being discovered by Google search participants.

Fast forward 3 years later and the London Times has decided to open up its pages to Google spider crawling. The company hopes to attract more than the 200,000 approximate users who current pay for its services, although PaidContent places that number closer to 130,000.

While Google spiders will be able to pick up stories they will only gain access to the first two lines of each post, ensuring indexing occurs via leads but nothing else.

With such little content being provided its hard to believe that the London Times will receive any type of proper SERP (search engine results page - 'placement'). Google spiders typically examine the full content of an article and then index that article based on its relevance to a search. While content focus is only one part of the search indexing equation it is a rather significant consideration.

The biggest change for customers will be that they can now see what type of stories the London Times is running during Google searches and then decide if they want to pay for full viewing capabilities.

With billions of pages in news content readily available on the web with no access fees it's hard to believe that the London Times will lure in readers who can already find the stories they want via thousands of free sources.