Let’s say you have tons of great content on your website. For search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes, this content is superb as it has loads of useful, keyword rich information, relevant to your site and perfect for the search engines to index. Just the kind of content that increases your position in the search engine results pages (SERPS).
Now, let’s say you have that same great content on your website, BUT, in a secure password protected area of your site.
This content is now password protected and is not freely available for everyone to view except users who have logged in via a signup page or perhaps the site has membership software installed for user management. This could likely mean a subscription charge for access to the secure content within the site.
These kind of sites prove a challenge for search optimisation as although you want for example, Google, to index your content you don’t want the content showing up in the serps and therefore available for everyone to see.
Some sites get around this by ‘cloaking’, basically presenting different web page content to the search engines than they are to the regular user. As an seo practice cloaking is very much black hat, against guidelines and getting caught would mean a penalty.
To be honest some popular sites do get away with this practice, but it is not advisable.
Note: if you have regular news content to share you can ask Google to have it listed in Google News. Please see this post: Subscription Site Seo with Google News.
One way to maximise seo for password protected pages is to show a quick ‘teaser’ or snippet of the content and then ask users to login or signup to read more.
Although this strategy reduces the indexed content and lessens the opportunity for getting found via long tail keyword searches it does still let you optimise the page for title and heading, which assist indexing and meta description, which will help click through rates (CTR).
To summarize, the advantages of using teaser or summary content for password protected web pages are:
- Same content shown to both the search engines and all users
- Content is indexed
- Content is cached
- Avoids any cloaking penalties
Obviously in a perfect world the entire contents of a web site would be indexed by the search engines and then the site owner decides what is available for the user. However that is what used to happen and was massively abused. For premium content, where login is necessary, the best solution is to optimise the ‘free’ content for the best keywords and capitalise on the search visibility.