Is Gated Content Hurting Your SEO?

Last month I went over one of the favoured strategies of conversion-driven marketers of the world, gated content! In case you miss it, you can read the post by clicking here. If you don’t know what gated content is, you’ve definitely encountered it online – essentially it’s when a valuable resource is put behind a “gate” (think form/landing page/opt-in) to gather visitor information. Those who download gated content are willing to self-report information and are more likely to be potential customers. Gated content is described by some as a necessary evil in the world of online commerce, however not everyone thinks this strategy should be a best practice.

Some marketers and business owners think that all content should be gated. Sure, there are benefits, the most obvious of them being that with a gated piece you’ll automatically generate more leads and provide more context as to who your customers are and what your customers are interested in. On the flip-side, there are few “cons” to gating content. From being a nuisance to your visitors/subscribers, thus causing leads to leave and never come back again, the cons of gated content should be cause for concern and prompt you to make an informed decision before gating yours. My personal recommendation when it comes to conversion driven marketing is to do what works best for your goals, but as mentioned in my previous post one very important point to note is that….

…Your Gated Content Has no SEO Value

gated content seo implications

As an online merchant you’ve got 99 problems and SEO is one. Your gated content is not only blocked to site visitors, it’s also blocked from search engine bots. If your content isn’t accessed by bots, then it isn’t being read. It’s that simple. Search engine bots go about reading and registering your website very differently than humans. Bots, unlike humans, don’t fill out forms, they won’t download content, and they won’t be reading that content. The good news is that there are ways that you can work around this issue.

Related: Gated Content: Driving Leads or Driving Visitors Away?

1: A Great Landing Page

Your landing page for your gated content can help you to balance out lead generation with SEO. On your landing page you have a ability to enrich something that publicly facing with information for visitors before the gate. These preview pages provide an opportunity for search bots to index and rank your landing page.

2: A Pop-up Gate

This is a more streamlined approach that will help Google’s search bots, and site visitors find your content. A javascript pop-up gate, is typically seen on sites that have paywalls (think New Times or Wall Street Journal articles), and can be used to display some search engine rich content while still working as a lead generator. A word of warning with this approach; Google might register this as “cloaking”. Cloaking can led to you being penalized by Google as you are presenting different content to site visitors and search engines – don’t shady.

3: Progressive Profiling

Not necessarily a solution to your SEO woes but using “smart forms” that auto-fill when a visitor has previously downloaded your content and filled out your forms. Unless you’re asking for new information you shouldn’t be asking for the same information all over again. It’s frustrating for your visitors, and could negatively effect lead generation.

Related: The Rise of Social Commerce

Is Your Content Worthy of a Gate?

gated content seo implications

What it comes down to is asking whether your content is worthy of being gated in the first place. It’s understandable that you want to generate leads/subscribers for your business, but if your content isn’t at all valuable they will be less willing to offer personal information in exchange for downloadables. Gate your highest value content and overcome the SEO implications by allow search robots access to some level of said content.

So remember:

  • Gated content can help with lead generation, but comes with SEO implications
  • Preview some content on your landing page, or pop-up gate to get indexed on search engines
  • Only gate your highest value content
  • Reduce friction with progressive profiling

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