The name of the SEO and search rankings game is content. Sound content marketing is getting harder and more challenging to come by as time progresses and search engines tip the scale of artificial intelligence in their favor.
Paying for viewing content is nothing new under sun. Just look around at the various life parallels.
We pay ticket premiums and admissions to view concerts, games, movies, fights, news, solutions, answers and much more.
So it’s not a surprise that gating content made its way and has survived for quite some time on the Internet.
Most of us are familiar with gated content when it comes to downloading free content such as ebooks, sample book chapters, and whitepapers.
Why and how I use gated content strategy
And yes, I know that web visitors can simply give fake information just to take a peek at the content.
But rather than have a visitor simply enter in bogus information to view or download content via their web browser, I simply force the visitor to enter in a valid email address. Upon successful entry, I then email the desired content for viewing to their inbox.
For instance, I personally gated certain ebooks and other value-add content by having the web visitor simply enter their name and email address.
Why did I implement a gated content strategy?
I did so for the sole sake of increasing my newsletter mailing list so that when I do have paid content to promote, then I’ll have developed a list of subscribers to send to.
This method in which I use gated content has been used time and time again,and by many.
As of recent, there are many website owners that are forcing users to view gated content via paying with social media interaction. Yes, paywalls have even made their way into social media.
There are a wide number of wordpress plugins and open market services geared at helping website owners generate more traffic and engagement using paywalls.
Pros of Gating Content
Whether paying a monthly subscription financially, or simply liking, tweeting, sharing or posting using social, paywalling or gating content has been very beneficial.
One upside to gating content using social media is driving not only increased website traffic and higher conversions, but this method has become a game changer for link building.
Gating content has become the tool of choice to sparingly use for small business owners looking to build their link profiles rapidly, increase search rankings and do so in a search-safe way.
And it goes without saying, but not every page or post of your website deserves to be gated. You should save and use gated content only for content that is epic. And by epic, I’m referring to content that you can’t find anywhere else on the web.
That means don’t gate content that you can find elsewhere on the web. Visitors don’t like the bait-and-switch play on their emotions, and will make you pay more than you care too should you toy with them.
For instance, using enticing subject lines and cliffhanger styled paragraphs will engage visitors to pay for access to content via social media interaction.
The uspide to this method is that your content will gain greater exposure to that visitors’ social media connections and network.
Paying via social media is much like a multi-level marketing campaign that snowballs to no end in your favor when executed in a sound manner. Or put in another way, your content will go viral when correctly using the gated content strategy.
Cons of Gating Content
The downside to not fulfilling visitors’ expectations once they’ve paid via social media should also be seriously considered. It’s real easy for the same visitor to simply go to the social media network of choice and remove your activity from their newsfeed.
So think twice about short selling visitors with bait-and-switch titles and cliffhangers.
Another interesting fact is that gating content and selling users short will also negatively impact your website’s bounce rate and search rankings.
If a user clicks away to another website and on on views the content for a short period of time, meaning meer seconds, search engines take note and classify this as a less than user experience.
In turn, for a short sighted gain, you’ve now mortgaged the life of your website’s credibility with no future payoff date in sight.
Yes, you got the links and increased link profile for now, but the likelihood of the visitor returning to your website is slim to none. Credibility shot and possibly for good!
Is using gated content in this manner really worth sabotaging your website’s present and future search rankings?
Social Media Networks Cracking Down on Gating Content
Like with everything else in SEO and search marketing, certain social media companies are fighting back against those who use gated content as a means to artificially boost their social media profile for the sake of increased search rankings.
For instance, Facebook has been hit the most with people forcing visitors to like or share a post only for the sake of viewing content.
Gating content has been very rampant and annoying expressed lightly by Facebook. It’s been to the point that they now must take a drastic stand at curbing such spammy actions and behaviors.
As of last month, Facebook has shoot back by changing their terms of service policy to place those who are using gated content tactics and strategies in breach of their TOS.
So, if you’re using gated content via Facebook on your Profile, Business Page or website, you better undo it, or call the company that set it up to quickly take it down.
If you don’t, then you risk losing access to your Facebook profile and account for your business.
In closing, I would imagine that many others will follow suit in the coming weeks and months, which only means that we’ll have to discover another method of soundly engaging readers to share our value-add content with the masses.