Learn how to add Google reCaptcha verification to WordPress forms …
We are all familiar with filling in forms online using captchas to prove that we are humans and not robots.
Google offers a free service to protect your website from spam and abuse called reCAPTCHA.
According to Google …
reCAPTCHA uses an advanced risk analysis engine and adaptive CAPTCHAs to keep automated software from engaging in abusive activities on your site. It does this while letting your valid users pass through with ease.
reCAPTCHA offers more than just spam protection. Every time our CAPTCHAs are solved, that human effort helps digitize text, annotate images, and build machine learning datasets. This in turn helps preserve books, improve maps, and solve hard AI problems.contact form
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to add Google reCaptcha verification to forms on your WordPress site.
How To Add Google reCaptcha Security Captchas To WordPress Forms
If you plan to add security captchas to forms on your site without touching code, you will probably want to use WordPress plugins to do this (we’ll look at some plugins that let you easily add captchas to forms on your site later in this tutorial).
Before plugins can display security captchas to your site visitors and users, you will need to register your site with Google’s reCaptcha service and get unique keys that will connect your plugin with the service.
Let’s walk you step-by-step through this process …
This will bring up a screen where you can manage your reCAPTCHA keys. This screen will list all the domains you have registered to use the reCaptcha service …
(reCAPTCHA API keys management screen)
In the ‘Register a new site’ section, do the following:
(1) Enter the name of your site or a label that will help you identify the domain you are registering with the service.
(2) Choose the type of reCAPTCHA you want to add to your forms. Typically, for login forms and contact forms using plugins you will use the reCAPTCHA v2 verification type …
Using reCAPTCHA v2 verification will either pass the user immediately (with No CAPTCHA) or require them to validate if they are human or not with additional catcha security challenges.
(3) Enter your domain into the Domains field (e.g. yourdomain.com) …
(4) Access the terms of service checkbox
(5) Click the ‘Register’ button …
(Register a new site to use reCaptcha)
A screen will come up displaying code snippets. Typically, for most applications, all you need are the two keys shown below – (1) Site key and (2) Secret key …
Do not share these keys with anyone else, especially your Secret key.
Copy and paste your reCaptcha keys into a plain text file. You will need these to connect your site with Google’s reCaptcha service …
(Copy and paste your keys into a plain text file)
After installing your reCaptcha plugin, go to the plugin settings section and paste the keys into the corresponding Site Key and Secret Key fields, then save to update your plugin’s settings and authenticate the service …
(Enter your keys into your WordPress plugin’s settings)
Your forms should now display to visitors with the reCaptcha verification feature added …
(A contact form with reCaptcha verification added)
WordPress reCaptcha Plugins
There are a number of reCaptcha plugins you can use with WordPress to protect your forms from spam entries.
You can search for these plugins by going to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard and typing “captcha” into the keyword search field (if you need help, see our tutorial on installing WordPress plugins) …
(WordPress captcha plugins)
Note: Not all captcha plugins use the Google reCaptcha service. We recommend going through some of the plugins above and installing whichever one best fits your needs.
Congratulations! Now you know how to add Google reCaptcha security captchas to forms in your WordPress site.
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Learn how to set up downtime monitoring alerts for your WordPress site and receive automatic notifications if your website or blog becomes unresponsive or is down …
If your business depends on your website being available and accessible to online users 24×7, then you need to make sure that people can visit your site and access your content any time of day or night.
Unless you are constantly checking your website, however, it’s hard to know if your website is up and running or if visitors can access your content 24×7.
This is where downtime monitoring is useful. A downtime monitoring service regularly checks your website to see if everything is ok. If it’s not, it immediately lets you know there’s a problem.
How To Set Up Website Downtime Monitoring For Your WordPress Site
In this tutorial, you will learn how to set up downtime monitoring alerts for your WordPress site and get automatic notifications if your website or blog becomes unresponsive or is down.
What Causes Website Downtime?
There are a number of factors that can cause website downtime.
Even the most reliable web hosting providers will normally only guarantee around 99% uptime. This means that in a one-year period, you can expect your site to be down for at least 3.5 hours if you are hosting with the best of the best.
This may not seem too bad if an outage happens when no one is visiting your site. But what if your site goes down just as you launch a new product or service or send out your monthly newsletter promoting a special limited offer?
Clearly, if your business relies on your website for leads, sales, subscribers, etc. and your website goes down, then you are losing money.
If your website is frequently unresponsive, your reputation and credibility will suffer, visitors will leave and may not come back, and your ranking in search engines will also be affected.
This is one of the reasons why it’s important to host your website with a reliable web hosting provider (for more details see our tutorial on how to set up web hosting for your WordPress site). Make sure you use a reliable web hosting service provider but don’t rely exclusively on your web host to monitor your website 24×7 for you.
There are a number of different tests that can be used to monitor site uptime (e.g. Ping Monitor tests, HTTP tests, DNS server monitoring, etc.) and some services will perform complex backend checks and monitor dozens of checkpoints simultaneously to confirm problems.
WordPress Downtime Monitoring Plugins
When we last checked, many website monitoring plugins in the WordPress plugin repository are no longer being maintained, possibly because of the resources required to continually check if sites are up.
One WordPress plugin that is regularly maintained and provides downtime monitoring is Jetpack.
Jetpack is a powerful and useful WordPress toolkit plugin that gives you access to over 40 features, including web security and a free downtime monitoring service which automatically alerts you if your website goes down …
(Jetpack Monitor sends you an alert if your site goes down!)
Jetpack Monitor also notifies you when your site is back up and lets you know how long it was down for …
(Jetpack Monitor alerts you when your site is back up!)
Jetpack checks your site every five minutes from different locations around the world and sends your notifications by email and/or via mobile. You can also customize the email address where notifications are sent to.
To learn more about the Jetpack plugin, visit the Jetpack website, or see the tutorial below:
iThemes provides downtime monitoring as part of its comprehensive suite of WordPress backup, maintenance, and security services.
iThemes Sync Pro, for example, offers a way to monitor WordPress uptime, downtime & overall performance for multiple WordPress websites from one dashboard and sends notification emails when sites go down, with a history of your overall WordPress performance.
Server Monitor is a free browser extension for Chrome that lets you monitor any number of URLs for connectivity and content you specify and displays a status icon for quick reference.
This extension lets you poll one or more URLs at a defined interval to check the status and content of the page. An icon is added to your browser which indicates the status of the websites being monitored using different colors (e.g. Green = ok, Red = site is unresponsive).
Additionally, the extension can display pop-up notifications when the status of a monitored URL changes.
After installing the extension on your browser, right-click on the gray sphere icon and click on ‘Manage extensions’ …
(Server Monitor – Manage extensions)
Click on ‘Extension options’ …
(Click on ‘Extension options’)
This brings you to the ‘Settings’ screen where you can enable your notification settings (e.g. pop up notifications on unexpected responses, connection errors, and when the server is restored), specify the interval to run checks and set timeouts, and add the URLs you want to monitor.
Click ‘Save’ after adding URLs to update the extension’s settings …
(Server Monitor settings)
The extension’s icon will be split into as many segments as you have added URLs and indicates the status of the websites being monitored using different colors (e.g. Green = ok, Red = site is unresponsive)
(Server Monitor is now actively monitoring your websites)
You can view the status of your sites and refresh the monitor any time by clicking on the browser icon.
Pingdom provides a range of website checking services, including speed and downtime monitoring. Pingdom performs a second check on every incident to filter out false positives and will immediately alert you if something is wrong with your website, whether this is related to your site being unresponsive, or a failed transaction.
Pingdom also offers configurable alerts and performance reports.
Uptime Robot monitors your website every 5 minutes (or more depending on your monitoring settings) and alerts you if your sites are down.
The service asks for your website headers and if the status code returns a signal that your site is not loading, it performs several more checks in the next 30 seconds to make sure that your site is down. If the tests confirm that your site is, it will then send you an alert.
The above list of resources is just enough to get you started. To find more downtime monitoring services, just search online for “uptime monitoring” or “downtime monitoring.”
Also, many website monitoring services provide Chrome users with browser extensions that allow you to monitor your site at a glance from your web browser.
For example, if you use Uptime Robot, you can find extensions for your Chrome browser for this service …
(UptimeRobot Monitor – Chrome Browser Extension)
However you choose to monitor your website for downtime, the important thing is to have some form of detection system in place that can instantly alert you if your site becomes unresponsive so you can take action to resolve the problem and restore your business online.
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Additionally, you may want to protect your download files or content from being shared or accessed without your permission.
Downloadable Content Planning Process
Before you start sharing downloadable content online, it will help to work out a few things first.
(Downloadable Content Planning Process)
Ask these questions before adding downloadable content to your site:
Where will your download file(s) be stored?
How will your download file(s) be distributed?
Will your download file(s) or content need protection?
Who will share and distribute your file(s)?
Where Will Your Download Files Be Stored?
Downloadable files need to be stored either on your server (i.e. where your WordPress site is installed), or somewhere else (e.g. a cloud storage service).
There are many benefits to storing and distributing your downloadable files from a cloud storage location, like Amazon S3, Drop Box, etc. We’ll discuss some of these benefits later in this tutorial.
How Will Your Download Files Be Distributed?
Will anyone be able to freely access and share your downloadable content, or will they only have access to the content after completing a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, or sharing it with their friends on social media?
Will Your Download Files Or Content Need Protection?
Depending on your strategy and whether you want to make your downloadable content freely available or accessible only after users take some form of action, another thing to consider is the level of protection your content will require …
(Content Protection Level)
For example, you may want to give account or trade customers access to a downloadable discount price list. In this case, you will probably want to store the file in a private area of your site that only certain users can access, but not necessarily need to protect the file content itself.
Instances where you would need a deeper level of content protection might include the following:
Limiting the number of downloads of a file
Giving access to confidential or encrypted files that need to be unlocked with a password.
Distributing software that requires users to enter a license key to unlock and use the application.
Who Will Share And Distribute Your Files?
Another thing to consider when planning to distribute downloadable content is who will share and distribute your files.
Will users only be able to download the file from your site or will your file be available for downloading on other sites too?
Planning this aspect of the process is important because if you don’t, things can quickly become unmanageable, especially when it comes to keeping your content files up-to-date.
Now that we have looked at some of the questions and decisions you will need to make when planning to add downloadable or shareable content to your digital presence, let’s take a look at how to add, manage, and protect your downloadable content.
How To Add Downloadable Files To WordPress
As mentioned earlier, downloadable files need to be stored either on your server, or in a remote server location.
Uploading files to your WordPress Media Library is easy but it may not be the ideal way to handle downloadable or shareable files and can cause issues with your hosting, such as exceeding allowed bandwidth or exhausting server resources
For this reason, we recommend storing and distributing your files from a cloud storage service like Amazon S3, Drop Box, etc.
To learn more about the benefits of using a cloud service to store and share your downloadable files, see the opening section of the tutorial below:
WordPress lets you manage your download files right out of the box but it doesn’t have advanced management features like download password protection, tracking file revisions and the number of downloads, preventing unregistered users from accessing your files, managing and selling digital downloads and more!
You can easily add these features using file management and download management plugins like the ones shown below:
WordPress Download Manager is a free WordPress plugin that lets you manage, track and control file downloads from your WordPress dashboard. You can control access to your download files using passwords and user roles, control downloads by speed or by putting a limit on download count per user, block bots or unwanted users or spammers using Captcha Lock or IP Block feature, ask users to agree with your terms and conditions before they can download files, and even sell digital items and products.
Download Monitor is a free WordPress plugin with an intuitive user interface that lets you upload and manage, categorise and tag downloadable files, insert download links into posts and pages, display download links, track downloads, log access & show file download counts, add multiple file versions per download, and more.
This plugin also provides extensions and add-ons that allow you to integrate your downloads with remote storage accounts (e.g. Amazon S3, Google Drive, etc.), add Captcha, email lock (users need to provide their email address before they can access the download), email notifications, adding terms and condition checkboxes, CSV import and export and more.
WP Download Manager Pro is a premium WordPress files and documents management plugin for managing, tracking, and controlling file downloads. It is also an e-Commerce solution for selling digital products from your WordPress site.
The plugin includes many features for selling & monitoring file downloads like price variations, licensing, password protection, download visibility based on members roles and capabilities, hit counter, etc., as well as social locking and media streaming features.
WP-Filebase Pro is a plugin that keeps your download files structured in categories, comes with smart, mobile-responsive templates to embed files into your post or page content, and provides fast download features for users.
This plugin lets you securely sync files with an FTP server or use an extension for Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon S3 (including Cloudfront), GitHub, ownCloud and others. Files remain wherever they are uplaoded and the WP-Filebase plugin handles permissions, URL signing and redirects.
Additionally, the plugin scans your files for meta data and keywords, so your actual document content becomes searchable, lets you assign individual access and upload permissions per user or user-role, prevents direct, unauthenticated file access, and protects download files stored in the cloud.
WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that allows you to sell anything, anywhere. WooCommerce powers over 30% of all online stores and is built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress, giving store owners and developers complete control, endless flexibility, and access to hundreds of free and premium WordPress extensions.
WooCommerce is more than just a download file management plugin. It is a complete WordPress e-Commerce platform that lets you sell all types of physical and digital products, offer bookings, memberships, recurring subscriptions, discounts on digital downloads, and a whole lot more.
Trackerly is a complete link management and redirection tool that lets you create powerful keyword redirect links branded to your website, with advanced analytics made for marketers, and gives you complete control of your download links (see the special tip below). Trackerly is an SaaS (Software as a Service) application with a WordPress plugin.
How To Distribute And Share Downloadable Content Effectively
Let’s suppose that you distribute your products through different outlets. As part of your marketing strategy to increase product sales, you create an online catalog and encourage your distributors to promote your online catalog.
Where will you store the catalog file?
Will your distributors have access to a copy of your catalog file so their customers can download it from their website, or will they have to send their visitors to your site to download the catalog?
If your distributors have a copy of the catalog file, what happens when the catalog needs to be updated?
If you store the catalog file on your server and ask your distributors to point their download link to your server location, what happens when you update the file? Will you have to overwrite previous versions of your catalog? If so, what happens to the old versions? How will your distributors access older versions of the catalog if required?
Here is a really useful time-saving tip for managing, distributing, and sharing your downloadable content effectively …
(How to manage your downloadable content effectively)
First, you will need to set up a cloud storage service like Amazon S3 to upload and store all your downloadable files.
Copy the link of your uploaded file and use it to create a redirection link in your link management tool (see this tutorial).
This redirect link is the download link for your file. Use only this redirect link on your site and everywhere else.
When your file needs updating, all you have to do is upload the new file to your cloud folder location, overwriting the old file. Anyone who clicks on the download link will get the latest version of your file.
If you change your download file’s destination, simply change the destination URL in your link redirection tool. The download link will remain the same but users will be redirected to the new destination URL.
Let’s go through a practical example of the above method:
Let’s say you create a product catalog and name the file XYZCatalog2018.pdf.
First, upload file XYZCatalog2018.pdf to a folder on your cloud storage server (e.g. create a folder called ‘catalogs’). If you use the Amazon S3 service, the URL where your file is located would then be something like this:
Next, copy the above URL, then create a new redirection link and paste the URL from your clipboard into your redirect link’s destination. If you use a tool like Trackerly, you can create redirection links using your own domain name. So, for example, if your domain was xyzcompany.com, your redirection link would look something like this:
This is the link you will share and use everywhere for downloading your product catalog.
If you update your product catalog, just replace the old file stored on your Amazon S3 account with the updated file and everyone who clicks on the dowload link will get the new version.
Now, what if you want to create a new catalog each year (e.g. XYZCatalog2019.pdf, XYZCatalog2020.pdf, etc.)?
Here’s a simple way to haveusers download the new catalog edition instead of the old one without having to change download links:
First, upload each new catalog file to the cloud into the ‘catalogs’ folder.
The URLs for each of the above files should look something like this:
Using your link management and redirection tool, your download link for the file would still be:
Each year, however, all you would need to do is change the destination URL in your redirect link to point to the link of the latest version of your catalog …
(Easily manage and share download links using a link management tool)
With the above example, your call to action should be something generic like “Download the latest version of the XYZ catalog here …” (i.e. don’t mention the year). This way you don’t need to change anything in your posts or pages. Everything will be managed from your cloud storage folder and your link redirection tool dashboard.
Also, if users need to download previous versions of your catalog, just create an archive or repository page and add a table or create a list with links to the older files.
We hope that you have found the information above on planning, adding, protecting, managing, and sharing downloadable files and content in WordPress useful.
Downloadable Content Creation Tools
Check out the tutorials below for more information on methods, tools, and resources that will help you create downloadable and shareable content:
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