How to Protect Your WordPress Forms with CAPTCHA Checks

Using forms on your WordPress site can be an excellent way to collect information, stay in touch with visitors, grow your email list, and process e-commerce orders. However, even though WordPress is a secure platform, forms inevitably open up your site to spam.

The good news is that you can easily protect your WordPress forms with CAPTCHA checks. This can help prevent spam like fake orders and registrations. What’s more, implementing CAPTCHAs on your forms is easy when you use a plugin like CAPTCHA 4WP.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at CAPTCHAs and how they can help protect your forms by limiting spam. Then we’ll show you how to add CAPTCHAs to your forms using a WordPress plugin. Let’s get started!

What Is a CAPTCHA?

Before you add CAPTCHA checks to any WordPress form, it’s important to understand how they work. While the long acronym may sound complicated, it’s actually pretty straightforward.

CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Humans and Computers Apart. The technology CAPTCHAs use builds on Alan Turing’s work. 

As the name suggests, a CAPTCHA is simply a test to distinguish between a person and a computer. It can prevent malicious bots from infiltrating or accessing certain areas of the web.

Since CAPTCHAs are all over the internet, you’ve probably seen them before. For example, if you’ve filled out an online form recently, you may have had to check the box for “I’m not a robot” to prove your legitimacy:

captcha protecting wordpress forms

The above example is what you might encounter today, but it’s not a classic CAPTCHA. Let’s go over a bit of CAPTCHA history to understand this better.

The original CAPTCHA test presented users with a string of distorted letters and/or numbers. To prove that you were human, you had to correctly decipher this string of figures and enter it in a text box below the image.

Later, CAPTCHA developers created reCAPTCHA, which was then purchased by Google. In essence, reCAPTCHA provides a similar type of test, using scanned text that’s difficult to read.

reCAPTCHA tests can also ask users to interpret images. Additionally, enterprises can get a special reCAPTCHA with minimal interruption to the user experience.

Google also offers reCAPTCHA V2 or “noCAPTCHA” (I’m not a robot). This type of CAPTCHA simply requires users to check a box in order to confirm they are a person (like in the example above).

Finally, reCAPTCHA V3, which is the latest version, assesses user behavior and returns a score. A score below the pass mark rejects the visitor, while a score above the pass mark allows them through. 

When using CAPTCHA 4WP, the WordPress admin can choose between refusing or redirecting the visitor, or displaying a regular CAPTCHA – thanks to the V3 failover feature.

How CAPTCHAs Can Protect Your WordPress Forms

CAPTCHAs serve a very important role when it comes to spam prevention. They provide an effective way to verify whether a bot or a human is trying to access your site. This is especially important for WordPress forms, as by default they are accessible to everyone.

If left unchecked, spam can be a real pain. For example, you may end up wasting time sifting through illegitimate form entries. Plus, you could miss important sales inquiries in the process.

Bots can also leave spammy comments on your site. This can damage your reputation or negatively affect your site’s performance.

In the worst-case scenario, malicious bots can inject harmful code into your site via your forms. This enables them to access your database and steal sensitive user information.

Therefore, you’d be wise to safeguard your forms. It can help you avoid any security headaches and protect genuine users.

How to Set Up CAPTCHAs for WordPress Forms

Now that you know a bit more about how CAPTCHAs can protect your WordPress forms, you’re ready to add them to your site. The easiest way to do this is with a WordPress CAPTCHA plugin like CAPTCHA 4WP:

captcha 4wp plugin

We’ve chosen this tool for a variety of reasons. First of all, it gives you more control over your CAPTCHAs. It also offers integration with several CAPTCHA service providers, including Google reCAPTCHA, hCaptcha, and Cloudflare Turnstile.

Additionally, it allows for centralized management of your CAPTCHAs, regardless of where they are deployed. Plus, it’s compatible with some of the most popular form builders. 

CAPTCHA 4WP also offers reCAPTCHA V3 failover. This helps prevent “false positives” from falling through the cracks, enabling real humans to pass the test even if their results are below benchmark. This can help preserve a positive user experience.

So, let’s dive right in!

Step 1: Configure the CAPTCHA 4WP Plugin

First, you’ll have to sign up for a trial and install CAPTCHA 4WP. Keep in mind that you’ll need at least a Professional version of the tool to get the CAPTCHA form feature.

After you sign up, you’ll get a .zip file that contains the plugin. Download it to your computer, then navigate to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin

Choose the file you’ve just downloaded and click on Install Now, followed by Activate Plugin. Then you’ll need to enter your license key, which you can find in your WP White Security account:

captcha 4wp license key

Once you activate your license, CAPTCHA 4WP will guide you through the setup process. You’ll just need to follow the prompts:

captcha 4wp setup wizard

First, you’ll need to select the type of reCAPTCHA you’d like to use. In this example, we will be using reCAPTCHA V2 “I’m not a robot”:

choose recaptcha type

Then, you’ll need to enter your site and secret key. In this case, we need keys for Google reCAPTCHA V2 “I’m not a robot”. 

CAPTCHA 4WP requests the keys separately so that it can validate the keys entered, ensuring the process is as smooth as possible:

specify site secret keys

To get these keys, you’ll have to add your site on Google reCAPTCHA:

register new site recaptcha

If you want to use the “I’m not a robot” reCAPTCHA, make sure to select Challenge (v2), and then choose this option:

choose recaptcha type

Now, add your domain and click on the Submit button at the bottom of the page. Google will then generate the keys for you:

recaptcha keys

Simply copy and paste these keys into the fields of Step 2 in your CAPTCHA 4WP wizard. Then complete the reCAPTCHA and hit Next.

Once you enter the Site Key and this has been validated, all that’s left to do is to enter the Secret Key:

CAPTCHA secret key

That’s it! You should then see the following message:

captcha 4wp finished message

Now the plugin is ready to go. Click on Finish and proceed to the next step.

When choosing reCAPTCHA V3, you’ll also need to configure the V3 failover action. This prevents false positives from falling through the cracks. You can choose to display a different CAPTCHA test, redirect the user or visitor, or do nothing:

WordPress Forms with CAPTCHA Checks

Step 2: Add a CAPTCHA Check to Your WordPress Form

There are tons of high-quality form builders out there, and you might already be using one of them on your site. In this section, we’ll show you how to set up WordPress CAPTCHAs using two of the most popular form builder plugins: Gravity Forms and WPForms. 

Add a CAPTCHA Check to Your Gravity Forms

First, let’s go over how you can add a CAPTCHA field using Gravity Forms. This is a premium form builder that can help you capture leads, accept payments, and much more:

gravity forms wordpress

To get started, go to Forms in your WordPress dashboard:

gravity forms templates

Here, you can either add a new form, use a Gravity Forms template, or open an existing design. For this tutorial, we’re going to use the default Contact Form template. 

Once you’ve made your selection, just click on the Edit option below the form’s title. This will lead you to the form editor screen:

gravity forms editor

Now, locate the CAPTCHA 4WP field in the Standard Fields section of your right-hand panel. Simply drag and drop the field where you’d like it to appear on your form:

captcha 4wp form field

You’ll then see a message that asks you to make sure your CAPTCHA settings are configured (which you can disregard, as you already did this). Make sure to click on Save Form in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. 

Now, let’s see what your form looks like on the front end:

contact form captcha

As you can see, the dynamic CAPTCHA 4WP field has been added!

Add a CAPTCHA Check to Forms Built With WPForms

Now we’re going to show you how to add a CAPTCHA field to forms built with WPForms. With over five million active installations, this is one of the most widely-used form builders:

wpforms plugin

First, you’ll need to open one of your forms in the editor. We’ll use a simple contact form for our example:

wpforms form builder

Here, you should see the CAPTCHA 4WP field in your left-hand menu (under the Add Fields panel). Just drag and drop it onto your form:

wpforms add captcha form

Once again, you’ll see a message regarding your settings, but you can ignore it. Finally, hit the Save button and preview your form on the front end. It’s as simple as that!

Step 3 (Optional): Configure CAPTCHA 4WP for WooCommerce Forms and Other WordPress Forms

As we mentioned earlier, CAPTCHA 4WP is an excellent solution for all your CAPTCHA needs. It works seamlessly with popular form builders like Gravity Forms and WPForms.

However, WordPress also comes with some default forms, including the login form:

wordpress login form

Additionally, other popular tools like WooCommerce add their own forms. In fact, the plugin comes with some useful forms for e-commerce, like a checkout page and a registration form. 

Another benefit of CAPTCHA 4WP is that it integrates with WooCommerce and WordPress forms, including the login. This enables you to implement CAPTCHA for your e-commerce checkout forms, and even customize their placement.

All you have to do is check some boxes, and the plugin will instantly add a CAPTCHA to your selected WooCommerce or WordPress pages. To do this, simply navigate to CAPTCHA 4WP > Settings & Placements:

captcha 4wp settings placements

You’re able to add CAPTCHAs to multiple pages at once, which makes the entire process a breeze. You can even configure these CAPTCHA placements to suit your needs. 

For instance, you may only want to show a CAPTCHA test when there are failed logins. You can also omit certain URLS and IP addresses from having to pass a CAPTCHA test. Just make sure to save your changes when you’re finished.

As you can see, CAPTCHA 4WP can be the perfect solution for adding CAPTCHAs to your WordPress and WooCommerce forms. It gives you more control over your CAPTCHAs, and comes with additional features to boost your site’s security.

Protect WordPress Forms From Spam with CAPTCHA

WordPress forms enable you to generate leads, register users, accept online orders, and more. Still, they’re not without their downsides.When you use forms on your site, you’re bound to get some spammy entries, which could clutter your user data. 

Fortunately, you can protect your site by adding CAPTCHAs to your forms using a plugin like CAPTCHA 4WP. All you have to do is configure the plugin with Google. Then you can easily add a CAPTCHA 4WP field to forms made with Gravity Forms, WPForms, and other tools.

Do you have any questions about how to add CAPTCHAs to your WordPress forms? Let us know in the comments section below or check out our WordPress Support services.

Featured image: Unsplash.

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