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October 12, 2017
Apps & Tools  |  4 min read

Google’s Free reCAPTCHA Turns Invisible

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Ellis Friedman

It’s a promise you make almost daily on the internet: I am not a robot.

Maybe you put in characters from a fuzzy code; perhaps you click on how many squares of a photo have a street sign in them.

All the same, you’re making a promise that you are an animate being. But it’s a promise you won’t have to explicitly make anymore, because reCAPTCHA has developed an invisibility cloak, meaning the user experience is going to get a lot friendlier while keeping spam down at the same time.


What is CAPTCHA?

CAPTCHA is a free service from Google that helps you make that promise. The newer version, Google reCAPTCHA, is the version that had street signs and checkboxes. Earlier this year, Google updated reCAPTCHA to become invisible. So reCAPTCHA is still working in the background, but you can say goodbye to the checkboxes, selecting characteristics of photos, and fuzzy numbers.

How does invisible reCAPTCHA work?

Google is pretty vague about how exactly invisible reCAPTCHA works, but they say it uses “a combination of machine learning and advanced risk analysis that adapt to new and emerging threats.”

Basically, it works in the background, invisible to us humans, and can determine whether a user is a bot or a human. If the user is a suspected bot, only then will the reCAPTCHA checkbox come up and ask them to prove their sentience. 


Why do I care about using reCAPTCHA?

If you have a website with form submissions, presumably you want to make sure that robots can’t fill out your form and submit fake email addresses. Having bot email addresses on your list present two major problems:

  1. You now have bots on your list. Bots do not act like humans when they receive email, and they definitely won’t buy things from you. The more bots you have on your email list, the more they will skew your email analytics. For example, being bots, they may never click through the links in your email. But your sentient recipients do click through links in your email because they’re interested. Now bots are artificially changing your click-through rates, and now it looks like some people (who are bots, not people) don’t like your content. Even though the real people like it! Oy.

  2. You start sending out your emails to known spam accounts, even though you don’t know they’re bot accounts. When you send emails to spam accounts through your email provider (like Infusionsoft), Infusionsoft gets flagged as a bad sender. When a provider is labeled as a bad sender, they can get blacklisted from sending to, say, Gmail. And that means your emails won’t go to your legitimate Gmail subscribers. Even if the majority of emails are sent to legitimate addresses, just a few rotten spam emails can spoil the whole barrel. By stopping spam accounts from even registering for your emails in the first place, you ensure that your email provider will maintain its reputation.

Why do I care about the Invisible reCAPTCHA update?

The best thing about this is that if you use reCAPTCHA on your site, or if you use reCAPTCHA on your site through Infusionsoft, now your users don’t have to go through the song and dance of proving they’re human. It’s win-win: You still get no bots signing up for your web forms, and your human users don’t have to prove themselves.

Use Infusionsoft? We recently released an update to utilize Invisible reCAPTCHA. Check out this article for how to get your landing pages updated.

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