Gated & Un-Gated Content: Opportunities for Brands

Post by Meghan Ryan, Senior Content Specialist

Gated content is anything behind a form. Users can have access to this content, but only after they provide some kind of personal information, such as their name and email address. This is great lead information, which is why gated content has become one of the top lead generating strategies out there. It incentivizes leads.

While gated content has its benefits in bait and capturing qualified leads, it hides high-quality content from the public. Many users will not take the time to fill out a form, and search engines – with no name or email address to speak of – do not have access to gated content. This severely impacts the potential search visibility of gated content and thus limits its views to a relatively small audience.

Brands should understand the benefits of gated content for leads while maximizing the exposure of this content in search engines.


In a lot of ways, gated content works against the principles of SEO and content marketing – to get your content in the eyes of as many users as possible. But where it lacks in scope, it makes up in lead generation.

The Pros:            

  • Gated content drives leads, leads which can later be nurtured into sales.
  • Gated content provides context for new leads. You can tell what the leads are interested in based on the content they downloaded.
  • Gating content can make the information seem more valuable than giving it away for free. There’s a level of exclusivity that adds a lot of value to the brand.
  • Gating content helps limit the exposure of content not meant for the public and helps ensure that competitors are not seeing secure content.

The Cons:

  • There is little to no SEO-value of gated content as it blocks content off from search bots. The form placed before the content acts as a brick wall that search engines simply cannot get around.
  • Fewer people will read gated content. According to research, un-gated content receives an estimated ten times more views than gated content.
  • There’s a likelihood of bad or false leads. Many people will provide a fake email or contact information in order to read the content and avoid being contacted.

Brands often gate published documents, such as thought leadership and whitepapers. Search engines don’t have access to this content, but they do have access to the article’s teaser page. The teaser page contains a summary of the document and helps users decide whether the content is worth logging in and downloading.

With so little optimized text for search engines to crawl, these teaser pages do not perform particularly well in rankings. However, analytics show that they provide a great user experience.

The Take-Away: 

When it gets down to it, the decision to gate or not gate content is determined by the purpose of the content – to gain views or to gain leads? Many businesses opt for a mix. Un-gated content optimized for search increases the visibility of the content. This content is a great way to increase brand exposure and target top-funnel customers. Gated content, on the other hand, best captures leads from customers further along in the funnel. In a recent survey, B2B buyers admit being more willing to give their contact information when they are further in the buying process. Gated content baits these customers – it offers customers access to exclusive researched content in exchange for their contact information.


Brands should combine a mixture of gated and un-gated content on their website. This allows brands to optimize content for search engines while still generating leads through gated content, finding a decent balance between views and leads. Brands should follow certain guidelines when determining which content to gate and not gate.

  • Consider the goal of the material. If the point of the piece is to raise awareness or to gain exposure, it is best for it to remain un-gated. If the goal is to gain leads, gating the content is a good strategy.
  • Map the content to the buying cycle. Buyers early in the funnel will want to do a lot of research on an organization and what they’re interested in buying before they provide their contact information. These customers should have a proper amount of accessibility to research the brand and the industry with un-gated, top-funnel content.
  • Consider un-gating old content that is stale. This offers top-funnel customers a taste of the insights they’ll have access to if they sign up and log in.

Other considerations are:

  • Ask for only the most basic contact information you need in order to turn a user into a lead.
  • Optimize key elements of the teaser page for SEO – these include the <TITLE> tag, META description, and H1 tag of the page.

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