A few weeks back I read a post from Google Engineer Adam Lasnik that included a statement that Google is working on something to allow crawling of pages that require a login. Part of the post stated, "...balancing many Webmasters' interest in requiring community membership or signin to content-rich pages while still showing content in Google's search results..." Lasnik went on to mention that we should stay tuned as Google will be making an announcement on the Webmaster Central blog.
The thing is Google has been working on this for a while. For the past year Google has been contacting owners of content rich sites that have an abundance of content that is subscription based. Is this the same project as mentioned in 2005 re: Google indexing premium content? Or is this simply an attempt by Google to index all of the content available and provide the most relevant results? If it's the later, lets consider the following example. Let's say you performed a query in Google and the listing in position #4 was a page that was a page of "subscription based content". When the user clicks through on this listing they would be prompted for a login. If they did not have a login, they would have to signup for one. If there was a substantial cost associated to subscribe to the content, why would a user do so when there is a a number of other SERP listings with content that is not behind a login? Relevancy is one thing, but paying to view a subscription based content SERP listing is another. To me, it just prevents me as a user from finding the information that I am searching for. I will say this though, relevancy is what Google is striving for.
The idea of being able to index and rank subscription based content is a step in the right direction. The idea of personalized search and movement away from a universal search engine results page is another big step towards an improvent in relevancy of the results returned. It will be interesting to see when and exactly how Google will index subscription based content.
Labels: google, subscription based content