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Many companies create whitepapers and reports based upon original research. These unique assets have the potential to capture organic traffic. All too often, though, the content is kept behind lead-generation forms, an impenetrable barrier for search engines. As SEOs, we find ourselves trying to pull some gated content out into the light of day. Clients often resist this, as their sales and marketing departments rely upon forms to build leads lists.

How can SEOs convince clients to loosen the reins a bit and make high-quality content available to the masses -– and search engines? A strategic approach is key. Here are five ways to identify which gated content deserves to be set free, and how to frame your argument.

 

1. Focus on content that encourages conversions

 

First, set aside ranking position, CTR and bounce rates for a moment — most clients are focused on conversions. It makes a lot of sense, then, to liberate content likely to attract clicks from prospective customers. These bottom-of-the-funnel assets tend to cover topics of little interest to the layman.

Think about the person who would search for “data validation best practices.” At the very least, he or she is probably in the IT field. They may even be in a position to purchase software. A cloud-computing company would want this prospect to be aware of their products. An SEO could easily make the case that it’s counterproductive to gate a report on cloud computing if a higher ranking could put the company in front of more leads.

 

2. Target rankings that are rightfully yours

 

Second, there’s a good possibility that someone else has already “leaked” your client’s gated content in the form of an article or blog entry. Writers register for the report, then cite the facts and figures on their own website. They get the ranking based on your client’s hard work –- and there’s not much you can do about it. If this is the case with one of your client’s assets, sharing the offending article should remove all objections to keeping the source material hidden away.

 

3. Bring Featured Snippets into the conversation

 

Winning a Featured Snippet can help your content punch above its own weight. Review gated content for assets that lend themselves to a Featured Snippet. The prospect of ranking at position zero could be attractive enough to make your client think twice about hiding a whitepaper away. Also, it’s a tangible accomplishment that they can show to their boss.

 

4. Get more mileage from “old” assets

 

Next, review gated content from past years that might still have value. It’s probably fallen off the client’s radar. Allowing full access to a report from 2014 lets search engines crawl the asset and gives users a taste of what to expect if they register for the latest version. Many clients are more willing to share older assets that aren’t the focus of a current campaign.

 

5. Split the difference

 

Just because we prefer a certain approach doesn’t mean it’s the correct course of action for the client. Push too hard against gated content, and they may dig in their heels. Luckily, there’s a middle-ground that doesn’t require handing over an entire asset, no questions asked.

Creating a high-quality blog post about a recent report may help you earn rankings that would be lost behind a lead-gen form. Include excerpts, bulleted lists and/or infographics that get the main point of your research across. Do not write a 300-word sales pitch and post it — nobody wants to read that. The blog entry is meant to convince visitors that registering for the full report is worth their time and effort.

Putting your best content on display is often a high-wire act of balancing good SEO with business goals. Taking a strategic approach to showing off unique assets can help improve a site’s rankings and convince users that your reports -– and products -– are worth their time.

Gregory Sidor is the Content Lead for Earned Media at The Search Agency. Prior to his arrival in 2014, Gregory worked as a content producer at the L.A. Daily News, Myspace and The Walt Disney Company. He has a passion for smart websites that deliver on their meta descriptions. He also enjoys stand-up comedy, astronomy and exploring Southern California’s beautiful landscape.

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