How to tell if your WordPress website is using cookies
Cookies are tiny files that websites use to store temporary information on users’ browsers. Many countries have different cookie laws that require website owners to specify which cookies they are using and what information they are tracking and storing.
In this article we explain how to find out if your WordPress website is using cookies and how to manage these cookies to comply with local laws.
What are cookies?
Cookies are small files that contain data sent by a website to be stored in a user’s browser. Cookies play an important role on the web and are often used to improve the user experience.
WordPress uses two types of cookies.
First, there are session cookies. These cookies are used to log in and are set for all logged in users on a WordPress website.
Then there are comment cookies. These cookies are set when users leave a comment on your WordPress blog. They are used to store the user’s name, email address, and URL information so they don’t have to re-enter them the next time they comment on your website.
In addition to WordPress, third-party plugins and tools can also set cookies for your WordPress website.
What are cookie laws?
Cookies are a powerful tool that can collect a lot of information about users. Given the privacy risks, many countries and regions have legislated that set compliance guidelines for website owners.
For this reason, cookie pop-ups are displayed on many different websites. These banners enable website owners to comply with GDPR, cookie laws and other data protection laws in different countries.
This is how you can see which cookies are stored by a WordPress website
All modern web browsers make it easier to view the cookies that are set by every website you visit.
In Google Chrome, the first thing you need to do is visit your WordPress website. Then click the Padlock or Unsecure icon in the browser’s address bar. This opens a menu in which you have to click on “Cookies”.
The cookie pop-up will then appear, showing you all of the cookies set by that particular website in your browser.
You can also view these cookies with the Inspect tool. Just visit your website and left click anywhere to select the inspection tool.
This will split your browser window and display the developer console window. From here you need to switch to the “Application” tab.
Next, you need to click on the “Cookies” menu in the left column to view all of the cookies stored on your website. More importantly, you can see the data stored by the cookie in the “Value” column.
In Firefox, you need to visit the website you want to review and then right click anywhere to select the Review Item tool.
This will split the browser window and display the Developer Console window. From here you need to go to the “Storage” tab and click on “Cookies” to view all cookies.
Plugins with which you can deactivate cookies
If you now check the cookies set by your WordPress website, you may find that some cookies have been set by various WordPress plugins you are using.
As a website owner, you may not want to use these cookies in order to comply with cookie laws in different countries and to limit your liability.
However, not all WordPress plugins offer easy ways to disable cookies and make your website compatible. In the following you will find some plugins with which you can easily deactivate cookies without affecting the plugin functionality.
MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin out there. This allows you to properly install Google Analytics and set up the add-on for EU conformity.
First you need to install and activate the MonsterInsights plugin. For more help, see our article on installing Google Analytics on WordPress.
Once you’ve set up the plugin, go to Insights »Addons Page and install the EU Compliance Addon.
The add-on works immediately and you don’t have to configure any settings. You can see it is activated by visiting Insights »Settings Page and go to the Engagement tab.
The add-on now automatically anonymizes IP addresses, deactivates demographic and interest reports, deactivates user and author tracking and much more. It can also be automatically integrated into Cookie Notice and CookieBot plugins.
WPForms is the best WordPress contact form plugin out there. You can easily create GDPR compliant forms for your WordPress website.
First, you need to install and activate the WPForms plugin. For more information, see our step-by-step guide to installing a WordPress plugin.
After activation you need to visit WPForms »Settings Page and switch to the General tab.
From here you need to scroll down to the GDPR section and check the box next to the GDPR Enhancements option.
If you enable the option, it will expand and you will see the option to disable user cookies and user details for all forms.
With WPForms you can also make individual forms GDPR compliant. For more information, see our article on Creating GDPR Compliant Forms in WordPress.
OptinMonster is the best lead generation software out there. It helps you create GDPR compliant registration forms and run campaigns for your website.
In addition, you can use OptinMonster to address visitors based on their location. This is a great way to ensure that you are showing GDPR compliant optins to customers in EU countries. OptinMonster only creates cookies to improve the user experience on your website. These cookies can only be used for on-site tracking.
4. Smash the balloon
Smash Balloon is the best social media plugin for WordPress websites. You can use it to create social media feeds that are compliant with cookie and GDPR laws.
The plugin detects whether you have activated a cookie notification plugin and then saves all cookies until the user gives the cookie consent.
More ways to comply with cookie laws for WordPress websites
It is the responsibility of a website owner to comply with cookie laws in different regions. Here are some basic steps to make your website more compatible.
2. Install a cookie notification plugin
Cookie notification plugins display a notification on your website that cookies are being used and obtain user consent.
Cookie Notice and CookieBot are two of the most popular cookie notification plugins that are compatible with many other popular WordPress plugins.
For more options, check out our list of the best WordPress GDPR plugins to improve compliance.
Check your website’s cookies to ensure that you can associate each cookie with a plugin and tool installed on your website. When installing new WordPress plugins or third-party tools, make sure they have options to help them comply with GDPR and cookie laws.
You may also want to read our WordPress Security Guide to make sure that any data you collect on your website is properly secured.
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to our YouTube channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.