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SEO Tips For Paywall Content

27 July 2021 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in nichemarket Advice

Paywall content SEO strategies

The internet offers us a wealth of information at our fingertips, most of it free, but free access doesn't mean free of cost. Severs need to host the content, writers need to be paid a salary, website's need to be maintained and promoted to keep new users engaged with the content. So far, the vast majority of website monetisation has been through the help of 3rd party advertising.

This can be done via platforms like Google Adsense or programmatic services that offer premium inventory. The issue with ads is they don't work for every website; some people don't want to clutter their website with ads, others don't want to have to manage the process, and some don't want to be associated with certain advertisers.

Regardless of your reasoning, it means either limited or no monetisation through this medium, so how do you generate income to keep your site running?

A walled garden

Paywalled content is an option. Yes, we know not everyone wants to pay for the content we get for free, but Paywalling doesn't have to mean blocking your site off from readers. You could use a paywall in certain areas while still offering free content for other sections of your site, using it as a funnel to your premium services.

People are becoming used to paywalled content with subscription services like Netflix, Patreon, Substack Apple Music. While it's not ubiquitous that people are paying for access to all sorts of sites, it is a growing trend.

Now one of the worries regarding paywall content is that if you block your content from the user, you're blocking it from Google, and this isn't true. Google has made special considerations for the growth in paywall content, and here's how you can optimise paid content for search crawlers and, of course, users.

Deciding on the type of paywall


This approach is popular with media outlets with a fairly sizable audience. These sites still offer free, or ad monetised content separate from premium content, allowing the free content to be available to everyone while funnelling users to sign up for premium content.

Metered paywall:

Metered paywall is the most adopted approach used by major outlets such as Medium and The Times. Users can access a limited amount of content in a given month until they are required to become subscribers to continue to enjoy more content.

Hard paywall:

The hard paywall blocks the entire website's content for non-subscribers. Typically, readers will only get to see the headline and nothing beyond the infamous "read more" link. Users can still use the site's features like search, but as soon as they want to access a page, they are blocked off; this means any content from the articles to the comments unless they become subscribers.

Paywall schema

The first thing you will need to do is design separate page templates for your paywall content that obfuscates the content or prompts users to purchase a membership. In addition, you need to add a unique schema to each of these pages; this schema indicates to search bots that the content is paywalled versus being blocked.

This also associates a different level of understanding from bots since Google has specific metrics for bounce rate for non-pay wall versus paywall content.

Finally, the schema also helps Google serve content to users who are more likely to convert into a paywall member than those who typically bounce.

Here's an example of the schema mark up.

{ "@context": "https://schema.org",

"@type": "NewsArticle", "mainEntityOfPage":

{ "@type": "WebPage",

"@id": "https://example.org/article" },

"headline": "Article headline",

"image": "https://example.org/thumbnail1.jpg",

"datePublished": "2025-02-05T08:00:00+08:00",

"dateModified": "2025-02-05T09:20:00+08:00",

"author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "John Doe" },

"publisher": { "name": "The Exemplary Times",

"@type": "Organization", "logo":

{ "@type": "ImageObject",

"url": "https://example.org/logo.jpg" } },

"description": "A most wonderful article",

"isAccessibleForFree": "False", "hasPart":

{ "@type": "WebPageElement",

"isAccessibleForFree": "False",

"cssSelector" : ".paywall" } }

You can find more details on the schema usage with Googles official documentation

Type of content you can paywall.

The schema provided by Google is pretty versatile and will allow you to differentiate between several content mediums you would like to paywall. You could set them up as separate paywall gardens with different access tiers or have only certain content types hidden behind the paywall. 

These content types include:

  • Article
  • NewsArticle
  • Blog
  • Comment
  • Course
  • HowTo
  • Message
  • Review
  • WebPage

Redirect to free content

Paywall content has a notoriously high bounce rate, which is why you need to make attempts to reduce it as far as possible as not negatively to impact your sites overall rankings.

The paywall funnel plays at the margins, and the vast majority of people hitting these pages will not convert on the first attempt. To help reduce the bounce rate, you may want to redirect users to your free content instead, give them a taste of the content they could get and an understanding of how in-depth your paid content will be versus that of the free content.

This will also help you understand which free content converts the most users into paid members and help you build better funnels to drive memberships.

Free trial memberships

As I mentioned previously, paywall conversions, especially for sites that are not well-known media brands, is a tough nut to crack, not everyone wants to sign up for some obscure site unless you're offering value they cannot find elsewhere. Offering a free trial for them to experience your premium content is one way to convert a user, gain contact details and then directly communicate with them to convert them into a member over time.

Note for AMP sites

If you're running AMP as your mobile-first solution and would like to add a paywall, you'll need to consider the following.

  1. If you have an AMP page with paywalled content, use amp-subscriptions where appropriate.
  2. Make sure that your authorisation endpoint grants access to content to the appropriate bots from Google and others. This is different per publisher.
  3. Ensure that your bot access policy is the same for AMP and non-AMP pages. Otherwise, this can result in content mismatch errors that appear in Search Console.

Adding new revenue streams

Ad monetisation continues to a competitive landscape. With large sites like Facebook and Google monopolising more traffic and impressions, it leaves less of the pie available for content creators to monetise. Sites will need to look at different revenue generation techniques, from paywalls and subscription services to donations and more.

Need paywall assistance?

If you're thinking about adding a paywall section to your site or you already have one, but it's not fully optimised, then reach out to us; we'd be happy to assist you.

Promote your business

Are you a business owner? Then why not register on nichemarket and put your business in front of thousands of nicheseekers every month. Registering with nichemarket is easy; all you will need to do is head over to our sign up form and follow the instructions. If you require a more detailed guide on how to create your profile or your listing, then we highly recommend you check out the following articles. 

Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on SEO and search updates.

Tags: SEO, Organic Search, Paywall

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