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I am wondering what the SEO effects of a 'Login Wall' is. More specifically, we have content that is region specific, so for instance a URL could look like www.example.com/content/Canada/Ontario. This would render all of the content pieces related to Ontario. However, we have a 'Login Wall' at any region-specific URL. This means that a user that is not logged in can access /Canada and see all of the content related to Canada, but if they were to go to Canada/SomeProvince they would hit a Login Wall. This is at the request of one of my superiors as he thinks it will drive sign up numbers by limiting access to the content.

How do Login Walls and exposing content, relate to SEO and crawlers? For instance what if we were to get rid of the Login Walls entirely and make all region-specific content accessible without a login...certainly this would help crawlers in terms of indexing our content as well right? Would the elimination of our Login Walls create greater benefits than the Login Wall assumes to create (higher number of sign ups)? Relating to my specific example, do Login Walls hinder SEO, and if so, does the absence of a Login Wall create more benefits than the Login Wall itself?

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In Google, you can have the best of both worlds by using First Click Free. In short, this means that:

[the] article can be seen without subscribing, [and] any further clicks on the article page will prompt the user to log in or subscribe to the news site.

[…] It allows Googlebot to fully index your content, which can improve the likelihood of users visiting your site, and it allows users to view the article of interest while also encouraging them to subscribe.

Though it's largely focussed on news sites with paywalls, it can be used for any content which requires log-in to view. As ever, Bing have a virtually identical system.

Personally, I'd question the wisdom of using a log-in wall merely as a way of driving sign-ups. Assuming you're not requiring payment for access to the content, I imagine the rationale is to get users onto a mailing list.

This is not dissimilar to the old "like gates" of a few years back, a somewhat underhanded tactic that risked annoying visitors and, as a result, never really achieved the aim of better engagement with them. Yes, you'd get a greatly improved number of "likes", but that number didn't correlate with real sentiment and, if anything, came at a potential cost of an all too real negative sentiment.

But these things should be led by data, not opinion. I'd suggest piloting the wall in some provinces (with First Click Free) and observing performance for a few months. That allows you to know for sure whether it works while minimising potential risks.


UPDATE

Since this answer was written, Google have replaced First Click Free with a more flexible model. See Google's subscription content info.

  • I can assure anyone that without fail, any site does a pop up for likes, e-mail, or anything at all, I bounce quick and never come back. Not good for UX and not good for the site. – closetnoc Aug 30 '17 at 21:37
  • I think there are some good uses of pop-ups. @closetnoc what about a pop-up that gives you a coupon code if it detects you've been on various shopping pages of a website for awhile without adding anything to your cart? Or how about the pop-ups that sometimes appear on goDaddy asking if you would like to chat with an agent after you've been looking at a knowledge-base article for some time? – Mr. Me Sep 1 '17 at 20:02
  • @Mr.Me These would still p1$$ me off. I especially hate the damned chat ones. Leave me the [****] alone! There are no good pop-ups - not in my book. – closetnoc Sep 1 '17 at 22:27
  • I also quit the page if I can find similar information on other sites. If it is like quora.com, where people share thoughts,information, knowledge and experience which I can not find somewhere else then signup page is fine for me. So It's depend on sites. I will surely suggest you should do A/B testing. – Goyllo Sep 4 '17 at 13:01

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