Why Using Captchas On Your Site Is A Bad Idea

Ah, Captchas, those annoying prompts that ask you to fill in mix-shift texts and numbers before you can proceed to log into a site. How many times have you been put off by this security measure by closing the site entirely? If you answered numerous times, think at how irritated your visitors must feel whenever they have to spend countless seconds of their time keying random characters only to get it wrong first time round. Captcha’s kill conversions. If your site relies heavily on it, maybe it’s high time to drop it altogether?

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Spam Is Annoying But Captcha’s Aren’t Any Better

When the Web began taking off at accelerated speeds at the end of the last century, so did another menace. Spam quickly evolved into a nightmare for many sites much to the chagrin of Webmasters the world over. They desperately hoped that a solution for their spam problem would present itself. A counter-fix was quickly offered. Known as Captcha (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). The main function of Captcha’s was to prevent spambots from carry out their tasks.

However, as with all good things, there are its drawbacks. While Captcha’s may only stop spambots, they are an annoyance to human visitors. If your website is build in such a way that information only becomes accessible once someone enters the correct Captcha, you’ll not only be losing out on visitors but also SEO ranking opportunities. This is because search engine spiders won’t be able crawl your site to look for keywords and other on-page information, a missed opportunity for both your would be clients and ranking performance.

It has been revealed that most visitors would actually opt to go to the next site that provides them the same information if they were to stumble upon annoying Captcha’s. This isn’t something that you should be taking lightly.

The worst that could happen? When Captcha’s aren’t installed properly, there is a potential for data loss. Consider the scenario whereby a forum user has to filled out a Captcha before their post can be published. After spending a considerable amount of time filling out an insightful post, they are prompted to enter a Captcha but fail midway through for keying in the wrong obscure characters. The infuriated user won’t only be terrible annoyed, they may not return to your forum ever again. If that wasn’t bad enough, just imagine the losses some businesses are making because they chose to implement a Captcha upon the checkout phase?  

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Captcha’s Not Only Damper Conversions, They Hurt Your Wallet

Let’s face it, Captcha’s are bad from a user friendly experience point of view and as stated, they also stop search engine spiders from indexing your pages which in is bad for your SEO. That being said, the real damage happens when Captcha’s start killing your conversions, much to the chagrin of Webmasters.

A lost conversion definitely hurts more than spam. Spam may be annoying but it doesn’t affect your business the same way that a loss conversion does. While lost conversions may not matter for Webmasters, for others this means everything to them. For example, if your site has Captcha’s upon registering for a newsletter, chances are most subscribers won’t even bother filling your form out. Even worse is for sites that deal with e-commerce. A site that has Captcha’s before a buyer can proceed with their order is akin to touching scalding hot water with your fingers; you just don’t do it.

Also Read: What is SEO?

In a gist, the more difficult it is to input an obscure Captcha, the more it will affect conversion rates. Still not convinced, try out Captcha’s of varying difficulties and see for yourself.

Standard Captcha’s that require users to fill in alphanumerical characters are the most popular for its effectiveness but even then it’s all too easy to key in the wrong Captcha’s. As for audio and video Captcha’s, they are almost always never used as they are time consuming. It comes as to no surprise that audio and video Captcha’s are the least popular among Webmasters for their inability to retain a visitor’s attention.

Want Other Captcha Alternatives?

Unfortunately, there is yet to be a Captcha alternative that can replace the current countermeasures better than Captcha’s. With the way technology is advancing, hopefully a more robust and user friendly alternative will be introduced in the near future. Having said that, here’s 3 Captcha alternatives that you may want to try out:

  • Simple Captcha’s are the best Captcha’s. Out of all the Captcha’s available, there is one that’s generally accepted by users for its ease of usability. The Captcha in question is none other than the one that asks you to complete a simple math equation (like 1 + 2) and enter the result. As this Captcha doesn’t have obscure characters that need to be keyed in, frustration can be kept to a bare minimum. A simple Captcha alternative to your Captcha woes.
  • Stick with Akismet, or other anti-spam third party alternatives. A dedicated anti-spam solution could be right for you. With choices aplenty, your options depend on what type of spam you’d like to filter out. One of the most popular alternatives is none other than Akismet. Known for its reliability, this could work out for you.
  • Use the honeypot technique to weed out spambots. The honeypot technique uses a blank field to entice spambots to fill it. With on-screen instructions telling users not to key in anything, humans are unlikely to fall for it. Absent-minded individuals or those with some sort of impairment may not be able to work around these countermeasures though for some reason or another. These could be reasons why the honeypot technique is yet to take off.

Is it Time to Get Rid of Captcha’s?

The way we see it, Captcha’s are a nuisance but their alternatives aren’t that great either. For all its drawbacks, Captcha’s do serve an integral purpose for Webmasters the world over. If Captcha’s are killing your conversions, it’s best to seek out other alternatives. But if conversions aren’t a factor for you, going with Captcha’s is the way forward. As with anything else, it’s best to weigh in all factors before making your decision to distinguish between what works and what doesn’t.