CAPTCHA: The Reason of Low Conversion Rate

Many SEO specialists make mistakes by concentrating only on the few following aspects:

  • Links
  • Rankings
  • Updating

Quite often webmasters do not pay enough attention to user experience management. But due to the fact that the boundaries of SEO constantly expand and require a lot of different skills, it is reasonable to assume that the user experience is the aspect which is really worth paying attention to. Also, by working for the best user experience it is possible to significantly increase the relationship with site visitors, and it is exactly about how to increase conversion rate.

There are different ways to improve relationship with customers and certainly conversion rate optimization is of great importance. Let’s explore one of the factors that influence user experience – CARTCHA.

Why completing CAPTCHA is so irritating

In practice, when you face CAPTCHA you are being asked if you are not a bot. And it is almost the same as asking a client who is about to enter the store if he is a thief. CAPTCHA is a barrier between you and your customers.

Back in 2009, Casey Henry published a great post about the impact of CAPTCHA on the conversion rate. He had found out that when you stop applying CAPTCHA for users’ verification the conversion rate increases by 3,2%, which is a quite a significant figure for many companies.

CAPTCHA is not a solution but one more problem

In early 2013 it was reported that Ticketmaster has finally chosen not to apply CAPTCHA. Ticketmaster launched an alternative system – SolveMedia. The system shows a user a video or an image and after that asks to enter a phrase associated with that image. If a user is not ready to do that he will need to watch the video during a certain period of time (similar to advertising on YouTube) before continuing.

Currently the company produces many variations of new technologies to prevent automated spam submissions. According to the developers, many products are aimed at improving the user experience. There exist the most diverse products of such plan, from doing simple sums to programs that use images.

However, all those solutions cause the same problem. For example, a user tries to make a purchase, to fill in the form or just to leave a comment, and the website developer’s task here is to avoid any technological barrier between a user and his goal, and that is exactly when the problems arise.

Another serious problem is that those products may not be quite convenient for the blind or the visually impaired. Though some sites apply audio CAPTCHA they face the same problems.

CAPTCHA is created for advertisement but not for positive user experience

A key feature of such products like SolveMedia and Minteye is that they are just another advertising tool. Sometimes you just have to watch the ad to go to the next page. Users do not like watching ads, even if they are well done. However, we are increasingly moving away from being able to choose either to watch the advertisement and are more frequently forced to view it (just like on YouTube).

Should we stop applying CAPTCHA?

Despite the statistics provided by Casey Henry we see that the use of CAPTCHA is still a quite popular solution. Perhaps for many webmasters CAPTCHA has become a common practice.

CAPTCHA is supposed to improve user experience and at the same time to fight with spam. A research on the use of CAPTCHA has been done at Stanford University. More than 1100 people were surveyed and about 11 800 profiles gathered. Also about 14 million eBay data samples were studied. The results of the research showed how difficult it was for users to deal with CAPTCHA.

The results of the research:

• Visual CAPTCHA takes 9.8 seconds;

• Audio CAPTCHA takes much more time (28.4 seconds);

• Audio CAPTCHA is not recognized in 50% of cases;

• Only 71% of users agree to deal with CAPTCHA;

• Only 31.2% of users agree on an audio CAPTCHA.

So what’s to be done? Of course for some sites CAPTCHA is the only way to fight with spam. However, any effective solution is spread rapidly and becomes a target for hackers. There are some really simple solutions that will ensure a reduction in the amount of spam and will not be the issue for the users.


Akismet system insures effective protection that doesn’t irritates the users. As a rule, Akismet is easy to be implemented. The system tracks millions of sites and constantly introduces new methods of dealing with the spam.

Honeypot Technology

Honeypot technology is used to hide a certain field of a form from a user. If that field is completed that was most likely done by a bot. The main disadvantage of this technology is that such fields may be completed by a visually impaired user. In such case you may mark the corresponding field with something like “Do not fill in this field if you’re a human being”.

However, whatever is done by developers to prevent users from filling in such field, there will be created some malicious script that will be able to bypass all the restrictions. The main advantage of this technique is that a user doesn’t have to do something that is not to be done in order to make a necessary action on a site.

Is it really high time to get rid of CAPTCHA?

Webmasters should focus on how to make a better impression on customers and ask themselves the following questions:

• Is the amount of possible spam worth applying CAPTCHA if to take into account possible low conversion rate?

• If the answer is yes, won’t CAPTCHA affect users’ experience including those with visual impairments?

• CAPTCHA is created to fight with robots, but not with people. Unfortunately, not every method of fighting with the spam is effective.

Look at things realistically – won’t it happen that you simply make users solve the spam problem instead of you?

As a rule, CAPTCHA is the reason for negative user experience with a certain site. Such way of fighting with the spam very often irritates the users, lowers conversion rate, and makes it more difficult for people with impaired vision to deal with the site. Getting rid of CAPTCHA will not only improve the relationship with your users, but will also improve the network in general. It is in your best interest to refuse from applying CAPTCHA right away if you still use it.



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