Spam is an almost inevitable part of owning your own website. For the uninitiated, spam is the name given to those annoying, usually commercial comments that pop up all over the bottom of your webpages. These comments are usually posted via bots and can appear hundreds of times on the same page and will often link to another site. It’s an underhanded tactic, but unfortunately it does work, with spammers often making a lot of cash via this method and getting plenty of unsuspecting people to click on their links and visit their sites.
For you though, it’s not a good thing. Not only do spam comments look bad and disrupt any potential discussion that might be going on in your comment threads, they also give your site a bad name, both to Google and to your visitors.
So how can you start regaining control of your WordPress site and cutting down on those pesky spam comments? Well, there are many methods, and we’ll be looking at several of them today. The key to this article is to not just pick a single method. Instead, you should try and use as many as possible. Using various anti-spam techniques in conjunction with each other will help you to have a much higher success rate when dealing with unwanted comments.
If you really want your site to stay clean and have a good image, you’ll have to put in some extra time and effort. It can seem like an overwhelming task to deal with all those unsolicited messages and automated bots, but it is perfectly possible to cut down on spam, and we’re going to show you how.
Our first method is to simply make use of your WordPress settings to make it harder for potential spammers to post their comments. You may not know this, but the WordPress platform has been designed and improved over the years to make spam detection easier. Head over to the discussion area of your settings menu and start making some changes.
First of all, you can activate an option to have every commenter add their own name and email before posting a comment. You could also choose to make people have their own accounts in order to comment, but that can be a little complex and will discourage many genuine visitors from contributing to your site.
Some other settings to activate include the “Hold the comment in the queue if it contains several links” option. This means that any comments with links will not be posted until they have been moderated by you or another member of your team. You can also type in certain tags or keywords that help the site detect spam and prevent certain comments being posted.
There’s also the “Blacklist”, which will instantly class certain messages as spam if they contain certain words. This can be a powerful tool, but it needs to be used with great care. Finally, you could also turn on the option to have WordPress email you whenever new comments are being posted or moderated. This allows you to quickly scan the messages and spot any spam yourself.
Another method is to make use of an anti-spam plugin like Akismet. Other plugins are available, but we’ve found Akismet to be very useful. It’s free for personal users and will cost just $5 for business users, making it one of the most cost-effective options currently available. This plugin works to detect any spam messages and mark them for deletion without you having to lift a finger.
It’s also very dynamic, learning from your own actions, as well as the actions of the rest of the Akismet community, and changing its definitions of spam to suit your own. Stats show that this plugin is incredibly reliable and is capable of blocking tens of thousands of spam comments every year. Other handy plugins you could try include Quiz, Stop Spam Comments, and WordPress Simple Firewall.
Another option to cut down on spam is to make use of Cloudflare. Cloudflare is one of the world’s most popular CDN and web security providers. The security features offered by this system will work to actually stop any spammers even reaching your site in the first place. This helps to prevent spam, while also keeping your site traffic exclusively reserved to genuine visitors and customers.
Cloudflare also comes with dozens of options that you can adjust as needed to boost security and massively cut down on spam. Again, it’s important to note that this method will be most effective when used in conjunction with the other techniques we are talking about. You can’t just rely on Cloudflare to deal with all your spam for you, but it will be a big help.
Our final method is to adjust your comment form settings to prevent people from posting any links at all. This might seem like a bold tactic, but often it can prove to be the most effective. We’ve already looked at changing settings to cut down on link posting and find specific keywords. Unfortunately, many spammers can find ways around this, for example by posting the link to their site in their author name.
So how do you stop them? Well, there’s another great plugin available called Hide Comment Author Link. It does exactly what it says it’ll do, preventing any links from appearing in your comment section. This works perfectly and will absolutely discourage any would-be spammers from ruining your site with their own publicity posts.