How to do SEO of Locked/Paywalled Content in WordPress?

SEO of Locked/Paywalled Content in WordPress

Building a winning SEO strategy has always been the talk of the town. You need to find the perfect balance between the website traffic and the revenue you create from your site. If you do not generate good income from ads, you might be inclined towards a paywall for a subscription-based approach.

However, integrating SEO of locked/paywalled content into this strategy is crucial. It involves optimizing content behind paywalls to ensure visibility and accessibility to subscribers while still enhancing search engine rankings. By striking this delicate balance, websites can effectively monetize their content while maximizing their organic reach and overall revenue potential.

This can surely have a knock-on effect on all your overall SEO efforts. Paywalls have emerged as a vital strategy for content providers seeking to monetize their online presence. The website visitors will only pay for what they know exists, and for that, your content needs to be visible to the search engines. Hence, SEO is vital for audience acquisition and paywalls help generate revenue. However, paywalls can also impact SEO.

In this article, we will discuss how to do SEO of Locked/paywalled content. But before we kick off, let’s first start with some basics.

What is a Paywalled Content?

Paywalls are models built to restrict access to the Internet through a paid subscription. A paywall serves as a method for content creators to generate revenue from their online content. It functions by limiting access to content that is behind the paywall, thereby encouraging users to subscribe or pay to access it. It acts as a digital barrier, and visitors can only access the content after a successful subscription. Content that resides behind a paywall generally serves an informational objective. Mostly, news websites and websites that offer valuable content use paywalled content. Set clear expectations for users as they encounter a paywall to manage their experience effectively. Also, online courses use paywalled content, where some content might be accessible for free and others are behind the paywall.

Optimizing SEO for paywalled content involves offering teaser content for free, optimizing metadata, ensuring high-quality content, using internal linking, promoting on social media, offering subscriber-exclusive perks, and monitoring performance. These strategies aim to attract users while encouraging subscriptions or payments for full access.

According to IONOS, a paywall is defined as “a method of restricting access to online content through a paid subscription.”

Some publishers have a full paywall (hard paywall), where the entire content is only accessible after the subscription. Hard paywalls enforce strict access restrictions, permitting only subscribers to view any portion of the content. Others offer access to a limited amount of content to the readers before restricting access, also known as a metered paywall.

An excellent example of this is the Financial Times website. The news stories on the Financial Times site can be accessed from Google News when the user fills out a quick response; however, a reader would then be required to subscribe to the newsletter to read other articles on the site.

SEO of Locked/Paywalled Content in WordPress

How to Lock Content On Your Site?

Most websites use content locking to boost their lead generation, increase sales, and build an email list. However, if not done correctly, it can annoy the readers, and there’s the possibility that they leave your site right away. But when content locking is done correctly, it can be very effective and help you achieve your marketing goals easily.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to lock your content with the help of Subscribe to Unlock Opt-In Content Locker WordPress Plugin. 

As the name suggests, Subscribe to Unlock is a premium WordPress plugin that makes it pretty simple to convert readers into subscribers by locking some part of the content on your website. You can also choose to lock the entire page with a popup or provide a countdown to your visitors until they can view the content without subscribing.

Subscribe to Unlock

With the help of this plugin, you can collect many subscribers from your WordPress site, as the plugin has made it extremely simple to create and integrate a subscription form into your site. 

How to Perform SEO Of Locked/Paywalled Content?

Now let’s see how to perform SEO of locked/paywalled content. We have divided this section into two parts: technical SEO considerations and content SEO considerations, so you can easily understand them.

Technical SEO Considerations

The first part is all about structured data. For paywalled content to be eligible to appear in Google search results, it has to follow the general structured data guidelines. With the help of JSON-LD and microdata formats, you can easily specify the structured data for the paywalled content. 

Rank Math makes it extremely simple to add Schema for paywalled content. Rank Math’s Custom Schema Builder helps the search engines index your paywalled or locked content. The structured data communicates the locked areas inside your site and aids Google in distinguishing the page from other cloaked pages.

Rank Math SEO Fields

Not only this, but if you don’t want the paywalled content to appear on search results, you can use the Robots meta to set no index and no archive for these pages in Rank Math. If you want to mark up your content with extensive Schema properties, Rank Math will surely be your go-to tool. 

You can read in more detail at the subscription and paywalled content published by Google. We’ve summarized some of the recommendations as follows:

  1. Add a class name around each paywalled section.
  2. Add appropriate structured data (NewsArticle).
  3. Add specific JSON-LD structured data to the NewsArticle structured data.

Also, if you have paywalled content on an AMP page, please consider using amp-subscriptions wherever appropriate.

These technical considerations are an essential part of your SEO strategy. If not done correctly, it can harm your search performance, and surely you don’t want your content to be invisible to the search engines!

Content SEO Considerations

Once you’re confident that your paywalled website’s crawling and indexing elements are correct, you can go ahead to the next stage, i.e., the content strategy phase. 

We recommend optimizing your content with specific informational keywords instead of choosing the ones with the highest search volumes. Your sole purpose is to convince your reader to subscribe when they find you, which is more likely to happen if you can quench their thirst for information.

For example, authoritative sites such as the New York Times tend to use the paywall. Your keyword strategy will be vital concerning the user’s search intent.

New York Times

It is also essential to determine what you’ll display to your reader when they land on a gated page. You can choose to include a summary visible from the top of the content page, also known as ‘lead in.’

“More publishers are considering subscription models to drive revenue. While paywalls are effective for monetization, there are considerations regarding SEO.”

Paywall sites can present certain challenges for SEO, as they might restrict the visibility and accessibility of their content to both search engines and users.

An advantage here is that you can use structured data in the summary that can help the content appear in rich results and improve its visibility of the content in the search engines.

Your lead-in can include:

  • A good headline 
  • The summary of the content, along with its main topics
  • A list of questions, statistics, or some facts from the article
  • What the reader would find behind the paywall (e.g., media formats or exclusive research).


We hope that this article has successfully armed you with the knowledge of performing SEO for paywalled content. Long story short, at first, you need to take care of the technical SEO to ensure that your content is visible to the search engines. Secondly, you need to have a clear content strategy to convert readers into subscribers easily.

If you have anything else to discuss with us, please leave your comments below. We’re more than happy to hear from you.

You can also check out our article on the best Elementor addons.

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