JavaScript Paywall Pros & Cons

There are two general ways to add a paywall to your site.

Client-side or server-side.

The code for a client-side paywall is implemented in the reader’s browser. This is generally done using JavaScript.

The code for a server-side paywall is implemented on the website’s server, the computer that the website is hosted on. This would use whatever coding applies to the server and site, PHP, Python, Ruby, C#, NodeJS, etc.

Subscribe with Google is a client-side paywall. It is coded in JavaScript and runs in the reader’s browser.

JavaScript paywalls come with some important advantages, but there is also a ‘gotcha’ you need to know about.

JavaScript Paywall Advantages

Simplicity. JavaScript paywalls are generally easy to set up and maintain.

Your site remains easily crawlable by search engines. Every paywalled page can be fully crawled and indexed, so there are no worries about your rankings being negatively impacted.

And a Disadvantage…

Technically savvy users can get find ways to get around JavaScript paywalls and access the paywalled content for free.

Most publishers using JavaScript paywalls just accept this as part of the business. According to Toolkits, “There’s no strong evidence that paywall circumvention results in significant revenue loss.”

There are ways to hinder those trying to get around a JavaScript paywall. Several of those methods are built into the pro version of RevPress. But they only make it more difficult, not impossible, to get around the paywall.

Server-side Paywalls

I want to keep this mostly about JavaScript paywalls, since Rev.Press is focused on Subscribe with Google’s JavaScript paywall.

But just to mention this: server-side paywalls also have their mix of advantages and disadvantages.

The setup is more complex and SEO is more complicated. A poor implementation can destroy rankings.

But if you want to keep some or all of your content out of search engines and away from unauthorized eyes, server-side is the way to go.

Can I Use SwG and Secure Content like a Server-Side Paywall?


Let’s cover that here: How to use SwG & Register Users in WordPress.

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Chris Andrews is an avid news consumer, publisher, a Diamond Level Google News and Google Publisher Center Product Expert, a technical SEO consultant, a 3rd Degree Black Belt, the creator of the GN Publisher and RevPress WordPress Plugins, and the founder of Rev.Press.