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SEO Strategies for Membership Sites – Complete Guide


You have made the right decision to purchasing our SEO Strategies for Membership Sites guide.

In the below navigation box you will find links to all the content in this post.

With the tactics below you will be able to get a lot more traffic for free and increase your revenues tremendously.

Membership Sites SEO Tactics

There are different types of membership sites models, one of the most common type is a blog type membership site with posts that gets published regularly and usually periodically.

The most common problem most membership sites’ owners are dealing with when trying to think of ways to get free traffic to their site is how to optimize it for SEO.

Since membership sites have protected content, it means that the content is not only protected from non-members, but also from search engines.

These are the most effective tactics to getting free SEO traffic to your membership site even if it is protected from non-members and search engines:

The Sneak Peek Feature

The Sneak Peek feature allows you to show your non-members only part of the content: the title and the first paragraph. You can do that by using the Read More tag. All the content below that tag will be protected so only members will be able to see it, while the content before the Read More tag will be available for non-members as well as for the search engines.

But how much content you need to expose before the Read More tag for search engines?

That is really one of the most important questions since, on the one hand you don’t want to expose too many of the content to non-members, but on the other hand you don’t want to expose too little content that search engines won’t even show in the search results.

Your Sneak Peek content should include enough words, somewhere between 200 to 300 words. It should be kind of like a short post, in order for the article to have a better chance in ranking high in the search results.

Google’s First Click Free for Web Search

Google has a great service called Free Click for Web Search which allows you to get organic traffic from Google even if your content is protected.

In order to do that, you will need to allow all visitors that come from Google’s search engine access to the specific posts you set.

These visitors will be able to see this specific content for free and without registering to your site even though it is protected, however, when any of these visitors try to access other protected content, they will need to register.

This option is less preferred with membership sites’ owners, yet it can be a great way to get new visitors to your membership site.

You can think of it as advertising expenses, since although some visitors got to see the content for free, it may encourage them to pay for other services you offer on the site.

You can find more information regarding the First Click Free for Web Search here.

Free Versions of Your Content

If you are creating an online course, an eBook or Pay per Post content for example, you can give away a shorter version for free or the first couple of pages of the eBook as free posts, so non-members and also search engines will be able to access it.

Giving away some of the content for free will not only be scanned by search engines, but it will probably get you more sales.

Think of the free version as a teaser: by giving your visitors an overview or a summary of your product up to the point where it gets really interesting, you will attract them and encourage them to get your full version.

You will also earn your visitors’ trust, increase their engagement to your site and they will also see you as an authority in your niche.

The teaser tactic is a very popular way to get new members, it’s highly recommended and in most cases it gets you the results you want.

Free Membership Level

Adding a free level to your membership site is another great way of getting more free traffic from search engines.

The search engines just love websites that are constantly evolving and adding new content, which means that these sites are usually ranked higher in the search results.

People are much more willing to join a free membership than a paid one, and giving great content is an excellent opportunity to convert more free members to paying members.

By giving away content for free your visitors will get more and more engaged to your membership site.

Of course, your content should bring real value to your members so they will see you as an authority and will trust you more over time, until finally they will be willing to pull out their credit cards and pay to get more of your content.

This is also your chance of building a strong community. People love being part of a community, meet new people, share ideas and ask questions. Not only will it make them want to come back again and again to your site, but you will also get a ton of new ideas for both free and paid content.

Free Membership Site

Instead of adding a free level to your paid membership site you can build a complete new membership site with free registration.

It will accomplish the same goals as adding a free level to your paid membership instead.

More Free Traffic Tactics

There are so many different ways you can bring traffic to your membership site for free; the only two things that are required are persistence and patience.

These are the most popular and easy tactics you can use:

Forums Posting

Registering to relevant forums in your niche is a great way to get new relevant members to your membership site.

Most forums allow their members to add a signature with a link to their site after a number of comments.

By being an active user you will be able to gain other members’ trust so they will be more willing to buy from you after they get to know you better.

Just keep in mind to write valuable and contributing comments on the forums and don’t write too many comments at once so the forum’s owners won’t see you as a spammer and kick you off.

Blog Commenting

Blog commenting is a great way to get more visitors to your membership site if done right.

This is a great opportunity for you to get to know other people who are interested in the same niche as you and maybe even make new connections.

In order for blogs owners to approve your comment and for other visitors to get interested in your comments you must always be contributing relevant content that is related to the post.

Don’t just scan the post and write a generic comment like: “great post”. Read it through and add a valuable comment that would want to read and even click to go to your site and get more information.

Joint Ventures

New opportunities for joint ventures are really everywhere. You can make connections in conventions, in forums and communities online or even by commenting on other blogs.

And if all these methods don’t work you can send initiated emails to relevant people introducing yourself and your offer.

Joint ventures are very popular today and the vast majority of marketers online are using this method to attract more customers to their business.

Free Videos

Creating free videos and uploading them to websites such as YouTube or Vimeo can tremendously increase the traffic to your site.

The more views you get the higher your ranking for the videos will get, in YouTube and in search engines.

Another way to get high rankings in search engines is to add a long description under the video containing a relevant keyword. The recommended length of description is about 150-200 words.

Plus, you can create backlinks to your site by adding a link to your website.

Free PDF Sharing Sites

You can share some of your free information in PDF files and publish it in PDF sharing sites such as: Scribed, Docstoc, Slideshare etc. for free.

These sites usually rank high in search engines and can bring decent amount of traffic to your membership site.

Basic SEO Guidelines

In order for your membership site to have higher chances of ranking high in the search results, you need to optimize it for SEO. These are the basic and most important guidelines for optimizing your site:


Choose a relatively non-competitive keyword so your post will rank faster in search engines. Long-tail keywords have a much higher chance in ranking in the top of the search results.

A long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase composed of three or more words that create a more specific search term than a single keyword. The recommended number of searched for long-tail keywords are 3000-4000 searches in exact match.

Of course, it depends on who your competitors are. If you find great keywords with more searches than 4000, however, the competition is very low, you should consider using it.

For example: If your membership site is about weddings then a short keyword would be: “wedding dresses” and a long-tail keyword would be: “how to find a fluffy wedding dress”.

Your keyword should be included in the title, sub-titles and content. If your content is protected, it’s important that the sneak peek content will contain your main keyword.

For the keyword research we are using Google Keyword Tool and also Long Tail Pro and for the rankings in the search engines we are using CuteRank.

Content’s Number of Words

If your posts are protected and you are using the sneak-peek feature then the most affective number of words to include is between 200 to 300 words, as we have tested it to be the most effective number.

However, if you are also using free content to attract more visitors to your membership site then about 500 words is great. There isn’t a strict rule about the number of words that needs to be in a post, it also depends on how competitive your keyword is.

Meta Description

Writing a good description can have a tremendous effect on the traffic you get from search engines, since this is the description that is presented in the search results and you have the opportunity to attract visitors’ attention to your site by writing a “teaser” that would make them click on your result.

Meta Tags

The tags will also help your posts appear in the search results and it’s a great way of websites’ owners to provide search engines with information about their sites.

Using Meta tags will give you better chances of ranking high in search results. Also, make sure your keyword will appear in the description so it will be bolded in the search result and when people will scan through the results, it will attract their eyes.


Search engines give significance to pages that contain the keyword in their main title and sub-title, and it is also a great way to attract the visitors to click on your result in the search engines.

Give your posts an attractive main title and also use subtitles with your keyword inside the posts. Also, make sure that at least one of your sub-titles will be seen in the sneak-peek content.


Images can help you get a lot more traffic from image-based search engines such as Google Images.

In order to give the search engines better idea of what your image is about and show it in the search results, you should use alt text to the image. Adding alt text with WordPress is very easy, all you need to do is edit the picture and add the text in the Alternative Text as shown in the below picture:


Not only can videos bring you a ton of traffic and backlinks from websites such as YouTube, Vimeo etc. but adding the videos to your site can make people stay longer in your site and lower your bounce rate.

Search engines love low bounce rate and it can definitely help you get higher rankings in search engines.

SEO and Wishlist Member

Setting up the Sneak Peek Feature

In order to be able to present parts of your content to non-members and for search engines there are a few settings you need to define within Wishlist Member, otherwise all of your content might be protected and all the protected pages will be completely hidden to non-members.

General Settings

In order to define the setting you need to go to Wishlist Member plugin >> Settings >> Protection Defaults.

“Only show content for each membership level” – Should be set to “No”, otherwise all the protected content will be completely hidden from non-members.

“Protect all content after the “more” tags” – Should be set to “Yes”, so all the content below the Read More tag will be protected and non-members will be redirected to an error page when they click on it.

Settings within Posts or Pages

When you publish a new post and you want all the content after the Read More tag will be available for members only, you need to set the protection of the post on.

Enter the relevant post and scroll down till you get to Wishlist Member settings as shown in the below screenshot:

“Do you want to protect this content?” – Should be set to “Yes” in order to hide the content after the Read More tag from non-members.

Useful Plugins for SEO

Free Plugins

SEO All in One Pack

A simple plugin that gives you the ability to write a title, description and keywords for each page or post individually. The plugin also have a paid version, you can find more detials in the Paid Plugins below. Download here

SEO by Yoast

One of the most powerful plugins for SEO that not only allows you to add a title and a description to each post or page, but it also shows you how many time your keyword appears in the articles’ heading, page title, page URL, content and Meta description. Download here

404 Simple Redirect

The plugin hooks the normal WordPress workflow to determine if the processed request will cause a 404 HTTP error, and if so, it sends the user to the page defined in the plugin options. Download here


A useful plugin that is useful when wanting to migrate pages from an old webpage to a new one or when changing the WP directory. Its 404 monitoring captures log errors and allow users to map them to 301 redirections. Download here

SEO Smart Links

SEO Smart Links can automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog. It also allows you to set up your own keywords and set of matching URLs and also set no-follow attribute and open links in new window. There is also s paid premium version you can read more about in the Paid plugins below. Download here

Google XML Sitemap

Having a sitemap in your site is very important in order to make it easier for crawlers to see your website’s complete structure and retrieve it more efficiently. Google XML Sitemap plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog. Download here

Broken Links

The plugin will monitor your blog posts, comments and other content searching for broken links and missing images and let you know if any were found. Download here

SEO All in One Pack Pro

The SEO All in One Pack Pro is the paid version of SEO All in One Pack. It basically gives you a lot more options than the free version. You can decide for yourself whether or not it suits your needs. Get more info here


This is a very cool and effective plugin for on-page optimization. By entering your main keywords in the proper field you will be able to know your keyword density and your total SEO score calculated automatically. Get more info here

SEO Smart Links Premium

With the premium version allows you can also use a user-set mode for your posts inter-linking and it can also help you manage your affiliate links and more. Get more info here

Best Membership Sites Themes

We prepared a list of the most popular themes for membership sites. We love these themes and we are using them in our sites. The themes are free, however, if you are looking to build a serious business that will generate revenues then a free theme is not recommended. Not only do these themes have much more features to help you enhance your site, but they also work seamlessly with Wishlist Member and they are also SEO optimized.


OptimizePress is absolutely the best theme for creating sales letters, landing pages and products launches using special shortcodes with no programming skills needed at all.

You can easily create beautiful sales/ landing pages with OptimizePress ready-made templates. There are many different templates you can choose from that will increase your conversion rates. We are using OptimizePress for the plugins we are selling, for example: Wishlist Registration Widget, Wishlist Error Page Booster. Get more info on OptimizePress here


A beautiful and elegant theme by WooThemes. Headlines is one of the most common themes we use on our websites, including on this site. The template settings are very easy to manage and you can have a professional looking site in a few clicks. Headlines is definitely one of the best premium templates exist. We are using Headlines theme for our website Wishlist Member Plugins. Get more info on Headlines here


Canvas is a very flexible theme with an easy to use interface that may look scary at first, but at the WooThemes homepage you will find tutorials with all the explanations. We love it since it is a very clean theme and it gives the site an elegant and professional look and we are using it for this website. Get more info on Canvas here



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This site and the products and services offered on this site are not associated, affiliated, endorsed,
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Wishlist Member Experts website was created to give you all the tools for building successful membership sites. The Technics and marketing tactics described in our guides are based on its' writers' experience only and do not ensure the same results for you.

Wishlist Member Experts website was created by Wishlist Member Extenstions
Wishlist Member Certified Developers 2012.

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