Use paywalled content without hurting SEO
1. Look through your competitors' websites for paywalled content and create a spreadsheet with a column for each of your competitors.
In your spreadsheet, enter for each competitor: No paywalled content Some paywalled content All paywalled content
2. Compare content on your website to content on your competitors' - is it more or less valuable to readers?
3. Identify your most valuable content using website analytics to find the pages with the most visits and lowest bounce rate.
4. Choose a paywall strategy - metering or lead-ins - to use on your content.
Use a metering strategy – a user can read a certain number of articles in a time period – if your website has many visitors, the content you produce is helpful, and it does not cost too much to produce. Pick a monthly time period rather than daily one to allow Google to index your content. Use a lead-ins strategy – a user can read part of an article for free, but the rest is paywalled – for content that’s more expensive to produce, and ensure that the introduction makes readers eager to continue.
5. Paywall some of your content and check that Google can still crawl the website using Google Data Testing Tool.
6. Perform a site search for your paywalled content to identify if Google can crawl the website and index it.
Type site: and paste the URL of the link. If the result shows up, with the snippet and the metadata attached, then your SEO will not be affected by the paywall.
7. Code your paywalled content pages correctly to avoid cloaking penalties on search engines.
Use the following HTML structure for each webpage:
This content is outside a paywall and is visible to all.