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I have this logic-based assumption that gated content like webinars and whitepapers should not be included in the organic journey, e.g. the natural, crawlable web journey through the main navigation of the website, because they do not serve the organic user's intent and Google's mission for content accessible for everyone.

I assumed that including gated content in the organic journey will hurt the rankings of the site.

I didn't find any reliable documentation online that would discuss this idea. Anyone here have made tests, or have any experience on the subject?

  • What do you mean by "including gated content in the organic journey"? Do you mean trying to get gated content indexed and ranked? – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 15 '18 at 15:01
  • I mean the most popular journey, that is linked out by the main navigation of the website, interlinked with the pages in the xml sitemap, and the one naturally crawled and indexed by search engines. – dtodorova Mar 16 '18 at 9:41
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Generally landing pages that are only accessible with a link externally are better to use noindex due to the fact that you would not benefit from these pages unless they link to the rest of the site, therefore, there is no logical reason to index the page. If you expect a lot of organic traffic then it should be linked and indexed.

Google does not actively punish pages with no internal links to or from, in fact its very common, hundred of thousands of companies use landing pages for Adwords that have no internal links because they only want to give the user one actionable action.

  • I am not trying to get gated content indexed. I believe gated and ungated content should have different messaging and audience and I'd like to separate them by hosting them in different folders of the website - unlinked pages, messaging for paid traffic, noindex tags and informative content, interlinked from the main nav, indexed for organic rankings, the messaging will also be different - more informative, more wikipedia style content. Do you think that if I use the gated, paid traffic messaging traffic in the main nav it would hurt the organic rankings of all content on the website? – dtodorova Mar 16 '18 at 10:54
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It's a good idea to show Google what content you have on your website, even if that content is only accessible through a gate. It will help Google understand your site better and know whether or not the gated content is useful to visitors.

If you don't want users accessing gated content from search, simply add the noindex tag to your pages and Google won't display them in the SERPs.

There are many successful websites that have gated content, especially those companies that sell digital products. Google doesn't penalize websites for having digital products for sale. And it may help your rankings if Google understands the digital products that you do sell.

If you choose not to add nofollow to the links pointing to the pages with noindex tags, you are passing link juice to those pages. Passing link juice to pages that Google will not index is wasting link juice. So even though it is helpful to Google to crawl your gated content to better understand your site, it is probably not worth wasting the link juice that you are passing.

As a result, it's likely best to add nofollow to links that point to noindex pages.

  • Not passing authority to noindexed pages is great input, thank you! My situation is more like this: (sorry for posting my comment on the prev answer): – dtodorova Mar 16 '18 at 11:03
  • I am not trying to get gated content indexed. I believe gated and ungated content should have different messaging and audience and I'd like to separate them by hosting them in different folders of the website - unlinked pages, messaging for paid traffic, noindex tags and informative content, interlinked from the main nav, indexed for organic rankings, the messaging will also be different - more informative, more wikipedia style content. Do you think that if I use the gated, paid traffic messaging traffic in the main nav it would hurt the organic rankings of all content on the website? – dtodorova Mar 16 '18 at 11:03
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I got the chance to speak to John Mueller from Google at SMX Munchen about this - and he said that it does not matter whether there is gated content in the natural navigational journey of the website, Google won't treat the site differently.

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