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How Does A Paywall Actually Work?

In this blog, we are going to take a look at the technology behind a paywall and how it actually works.  If you want to set up paid subscriptions effectively then it’s really important you understand how a paywall works so you can choose one that works for you.

The first thing it’s important to be aware of is that  paywalls determine the amount of access that both search engines and site visitors get to your content and the level of security that your premium content has. Let’s take a look at how all of this works.

How A Browser Works

It does not matter which browser your site visitors use to visit your website; it directs them in the same way. When a user clicks in a browser this action sends a message to the server which hosts the website or sites being used. This message helps to determine who you are, using details of your computer. The server uses this information to work out where to route you to. Once a user accesses the page then applications like JavaScript and Flash begin to run. That is a very basic description of how a browser works that it’s useful to know to help you understand paywall technology.

ScreenshotServer-side Paywalls

Server side paywalls tend to provide the most security for your content as the decision regarding what the user gets to see is made at the server stage before anything is actually sent to the browser. The issue with this is that search engines will only index what can be seen by the browser so search engines can miss your content. If you want to get around this problem then you can choose to allow access to a small amount of content either directly on the web page or hidden in meta tags.

Browser-side Paywalls

These are different to server side paywalls in that the decision regarding access is made once the page has actually been accessed in the browser. It is the browser application that determines whether access is allowed. The issue with this type of paywall is that the content is actually there, it is just hidden. This means that some people are able to block the paywall and gain access to the content.

The Metered Method

Using the metered method means that a visitor to your website can view a certain number of pages before the paywall is activated. This means that they have completely free access to a certain amount of content. The principles of server side and browser side paywalls still exist but the system is just a little more complex.

Which Paywall Is The Best?Screenshot1

There is not a straightforward answer to this question as it can depend on individual needs. There are some questions you may want to consider to help you make a choice.

  • How important is it that you are fully indexed by search engines?
  • Do you want some of your content to be free to view?
  • Do you want to only cater for subscribers and block everyone else including search engines?

Your answers to these questions will help you to determine which type of paywall is best for you, based on the information we have given you, about the different paywalls.

Hopefully, you have found this blog useful. For more you can contact our team at sales@inplayer.com

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