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I'm working with some pages that are only partially visible because most of the content is behind a paywall. In order to help the page be discoverable in organic searches, I am in the process of manually combing through each article, grabbing keywords from it, and putting those into a list at the top of each article page. I don't know how useful it would be to visitors to see that list, so I am considering putting it inside the <details> tag, so that it becomes visible only after the <summary> tag is clicked. But since that requires a step of interaction, I wonder if search engines will miss it. Or maybe that is the best way, because the list won't take up space and annoy visitors (but hopefully the content inside <details> will still be scanned). Or then again, is it possible the pages will be penalized for having keywords that are hidden until made visible?

From an SEO perspective, how does Google Search interpret content inside <details>?

I want to help the articles be discovered, but I can't simply show the content that is behind the paywall as-is.

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Placing keywords into a tag that is that is not seen by users sounds an awful lot like cloaking. This is not the approach you should be taking for paywall content.

Instead Google has an approved way of getting your paywall content indexed in search engines. You need to implement flexible sampling. In short you allow users to view some amount of free content (like a few articles a month).

To get the keywords indexed by Google you allow Googlebot to always see the full articles. To distinguish from cloaking, you implement structured data that tells Google about your sampling policy.

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  • Thanks. Yes, I recall reading about flexible sampling, but it seemed confusing to implement. And also maybe not completely effective(?). Like, can users circumvent the paywall just by disabling cookies, or view the text content by viewing the page source? If an article is made public for a short time and then made available to subscribers only - does this count as flexible sampling? I ask because currently the paywalled content is not even served unless the visitor is a logged in subscriber.
    – Mentalist
    Dec 20 '21 at 7:54
  • If you can't make articles available to new users, then Google doesn't want to index them and you shouldn't try use keyword stuffing. That will just get your site penalized. Dec 20 '21 at 8:03

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