Gated Website Content: Yes or No?

We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we click a relevant-looking link only to find that we need to sign up or pay to access the content in full. This is called ‘gated content’, and it’s fast become one of the most frustrating aspects of internet marketing. Yet despite this, many major brands are continuing to gate their website content; LinkedIn is perhaps the most famous instance of gating an entire website, while the Financial Times is also guilty of making audiences pay a subscription fee to read their articles.

This poses a big question: is gated content good or bad?

Ask any SEO consultant and the general response will focus on the downside of gated content. In fact, three quarters of internet marketers say that non-gated content is key for lead nurturing. The problem, of course, all comes down to Google SEO practices. Search engines like Google detect relevant keywords and phrases in website content, and use this to create a ranking for each search term. If Google is unable to access content because it’s hidden behind a wall, the website will fail to show up in search results.

However, there’s another side to the coin: gated content could boost the quality of sign ups. If a visitor takes action to access your content — whether that’s sharing their personal details via a sign up form or paying a fee — this shows that this particular visitor is serious about your brand and is likely in a position to take action. You’re increasing marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs).

Should I Use Gated Content?

While an SEO company will typically advise against gated content, there are times when this method can prove to be beneficial. However, it really depends on what you hope to achieve from content marketing.

Non-Gated Content expands reach. It’s best for increasing site traffic, positioning yourself as an industry leader, encouraging engagement, boosting Google SEO rank, and building relationships.

Gated Content can be good for lead generation. It works if you’re getting the visitors but not the conversions, filtering traffic and allowing you to focus on those who are in a position to convert.

Mi Web Design’s 4 Tips for Gated Content:

  1. Maintain quality non-gated content for continued audience engagement
  2. Focus on optimisation of non-gated content for SEO purposes
  3. Gate a the right time (eg. towards the bottom of the marketing funnel)
  4. Keep sign up forms short and sweet (short forms have better conversion rates)