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The following is a guest post from Tim at Prevent Direct Access.
When publishing any piece of content, you want others to read it. But you may not intend to share your premium articles with everyone – instead, to selected people such as customers, members or subscribers. Content protection and sharing can be a real headache for many website owners.
There are plenty of ways to protect and share your content. So how can you narrow them down and find the right solution for your online business?
In this post, we will bring up and discuss the 4 most effective ways to protect and share your content.
WordPress itself comes with a simple content protection mechanism called “content visibility”. You can either password protect your pages or posts, or set them as “private”.
WordPress private content is hidden from the public. Only admins and editors can view your private content. Visitors and normal users will not be able to access it even if they could guess the URL or have the exact URL of your private post. This permission is not customizable though, so imposes a huge limitation on the feature.
A membership site provides the most secure and comprehensive method to protect your content. You can create various membership types and levels as well as integrate them with your preferred payment gateway and email marketing software.
However, membership protection in general and user authentication in particular, albeit secure, are overkill for most website owners and their users.
First, users have to sign up for an account on your website. After that, they’re required to log into your website to see this content on every new device and browser. This may cause unnecessary hassle, especially to people who are often on the go.
Likewise, the admins have to install a membership plugin, create different membership levels, and finally, sort out the payment method and content permission accordingly. The setup process and learning curve is too steep for many.
In short, membership is preferable for large websites with a lot of content and users, but not for smaller sites.
Password protection is slightly less complicated. You just need to install a good password protected plugin and then create passwords to lock your private content.
Now, only people with the correct passwords can access those protected pages without having to create accounts or log in.
Still, people have to check or remember the password for access. The biggest problem with password protection is that you can’t easily share your content with a large number of people. Often times, you have to send the password to your users privately, sometimes one password for each user.
To avoid having to create an account, and remember passwords, you might want your users to access the content directly via a “private link”.
In other words, your private pages and posts will not be publicly accessible by their original links anymore. Instead, you provide exclusive access to your premium content to anyone with the private link you’ve created and shared.
Let’s say you’ve just written a blog post sharing your personal opinion about a recently released movie. As the post is published on your professional website, you may not want all your readers seeing that personal post about why you don’t like the movie’s main character. You probably don’t want people to find your website through the critique appearing on Google search results either. Having said that, you’d still like to share that personal review with your groups of friends through Facebook and Email.
That’s where private links come in handy. First, protect the original WordPress post or page from direct access and Google indexing. Second, protect and create a private link of that post and then share it with whomever you want.
These private links are random, unguessable, customizable, and most importantly, not indexed by Google or any search engines. You can even customize your private links to make them meaningful, memorable and legitimate to your users.
Here are some examples of a random link and a customized link with your name
A random private link:
A customized private link:
Google and Dropbox have their own version of shared private links as well, which they call shareable and shared links respectively. With these links, people don’t need to have an account or sign into these platforms in order to access the shared content and files.
The fact that you want to protect your content and files against unwanted users doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to share them with certain people. That’s why these shared private links, also known as private access links, are integrated with both Prevent Direct Access Gold and Protect Pages & Posts plugins to secure, and at the same time, help share both your private content and files with selective users.
It’s essential that you expire shared private links to prevent unwanted sharing and access. You can easily restrict these private links access by date and clicks.
For instance, you can limit your private content access to the first 5 people who click on the shared link. Alternatively, you can set the private link available only for 2 days. After that, the link expires and becomes invalid. These private links can be shared through emails, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as
You spend a lot of time creating valuable content. So it’s critical to protect them against unauthorized access. Membership, password protection and even “private” visibility provided by WordPress are viable solutions to protect your premium content.
Apart from that, shared private links provide an alternative and simpler method to secure and share your private content. Don’t let the complexity of membership and password protection stop you from protecting your most important content.