Should Search Engines Pay Publishers & Content Creators ?

Aditya Krishnan
3 min readJan 28, 2021
Image Source : Search Engine Journal

The recent developments in France wherein an agreement has been finalized by Google with French news publishers, to pay them for use of content published in their digital properties has brought about a tectonic shift in the digital ecosystem . Demands of enabling similar laws have gathered steam across the globe . The sole aim is to develop a revenue sharing mechanism between technology giants and content producers /news publishing groups.

The seeds were sown in this regard when European Copyright reform in March, 2019 was enacted to bring online content under its purview .The French Competition Authority in April, 2020 had ordered Google to negotiate with publishers of news based content w.r.t their demand for sharing of revenue on account of displaying their content in search . The leading search engine was also accused of abusing its dominant market position as it tried to tweak the visibility of the news based content .

Recently a major controversy also erupted in Australia as its dispensation passed a law outlining a digital code on similar lines with few more stringent clauses namely giving a prior notice specific to algorithm updates to which Google threatened to shut down their services for the locale .

Analysis at a glance

Search engines provide the following benefits to content and news publishers

  • Free reach and enhanced frequency of messaging by displaying different types of content from their sites
  • Advertising on sites based on traffic and user preferences helps news publishers to generate revenue
  • Brands including authors get fame and name across locales & audiences
  • Serving the best results based on context, content , location , past searches, browser language settings etc
  • News sites have higher frequency of crawling , probability of showcasing fresh content is much higher

The basic argument is that search engines make revenue out of paid ads and not through organic content . Though creating original content requires effort and time , search engines act as a channel to disseminate that information but to make them pay / share revenue beyond a certain point seems to be inexplicable .

Benefits that search engines provide in general outweighs the real or perceived financial losses alleged by the media houses.

Potential Solutions

  • Search platforms can give preferences to sites that do not seek revenue sharing and rank their content in a better way giving them higher visibility
  • Remove text snippets / meta description and only show a URL with title for news sites in general
  • Have a formal agreement with leading publishers on revenue sharing based on quantitative metrics including basic criteria
  • Give an option to sites to opt out of search results if they are not willing to accept the concerned clauses

Concluding Remarks

It is prudent to ensure that major players do not abuse their market position and indulge in anti trust based activities . All entities within the digital ecosystem must strive for a win-win situation and there must be a fine balance between regulation , innovation and financial aspects .

About The Author :

Aditya Krishnan is a Digital Strategist & Consultant with 10+ years of experience across different sectors and practices . He has managed business transformation engagements ranging from setting up digital platforms , designing marketing strategies to leading conversion optimization, analytics projects . An active contributor and participant in the Webmasters , SEO , digital marketing, analytics professional groups/forums . He has authored several publications on various topics across portals and shares his views regularly on latest trends in the digital / marketing space . In addition to it he is also a reputed author , poet and an avid researcher .



Aditya Krishnan

Sr Digital Strategist & speaker on trends in marketing, technology . Author of the book " A String Of Pearls" .