Unfortunately, spam is a regular part of internet life. Regardless of the platform, irrelevant content and hyperlinks are all over the place.
The same situation arrives when you enable comments on your WordPress site, and you have to deal with spam every day. It’s so annoying given the number of spam comments you will notice on your WP dashboard.
Spam comments are not a great idea to get backlinks from a third-party website. There is a higher chance of disapproval by the website owners, so it doesn’t allow the comment to make an impression.
No one likes to see spam comments under their articles that only bring an unreliable feeling to the page. Spam comments are not only irrelevant to the page content, but they are also considered low-quality content; sometimes, they might not be safe for your visitors, and above all, a lot of spam comments can hurt your page’s SEO.
In this article, we will discuss how to protect your website from spam comments and try to find out if there is an efficient way to flush out spam comments from your website.
How to Know Which Comment Is Spam?
If you have enabled the commenting system on your website, you are bound to get spam comments. As your website grows over time, you will notice that the number of spam comments will increase proportionately.
And there is not any certain ratio at which comment spams will appear on your comment management dashboard. These comment spams occur on your site randomly, and your job is to identify and remove them as soon as possible.
As a creator of the content, it would be relatively easy for you to recognize spam comments on a particular page because of their intention, generic and irrelevant approach. And they are always out of the primary topic.
For example, if you have a WordPress site with a decent amount of traffic, you should notice some comments similar to the image below;
Why Are Spam Comments Such a Problem for My Site?
Nowadays, there are various types of common spam you will notice. Most of the spam comments are automated, posted by spambots. This type of comment is universal; sometimes, it can be short messages, while on the other day, it can come as a long paragraph, including a spammy link away from your website.
Whatever the form they come, comment spams are a real problem to your site, and there is no way out until you completely stop the commenting service.
If you try to analyze how they can affect your site, there will be a lot to discuss. However, I will try to keep it short and point out a few clear bad impacts you don’t want to have on your page.
- You don’t want to send your visitors to some unknown malicious page, and spam comments increase this probability to a very high standard.
- You certainly don’t want to make your page look unprofessional. And having lots of spam comments on your page is a straightforward way to do that.
- If you deliver excellent & interactive content to the readers, the comment section is filled with irrelevant messages. It will be harder for people to express their thoughts and interact appropriately.
- Moreover, you will spend more time filtering out those comment spams than actually crafting something meaningful to your readers.
Although such comments are very annoying, it’s not hard to keep them apart from your site, but you have to apply the right technique to be an automated process and save your precious time.
How to Stop and Protect Your Website from Spam
Honestly, with WordPress as your CMS, there are lots of ways you can try and stop spam comments on your website. You can simply download a plugin like Honeypot or Sucuri to automatically detect spam comments. You can even install the Disqus commenting system on your site, and it will protect your website from spambots.
With this plugin installed & configured, all you have to do is sit back and watch how the plugin blocks all the spam comments.
But in this article, we will discuss two particular ways to block spam comments; the manual way and with Akismet. Remember that stopping spam comments is only applicable when your WordPress commenting system is enabled.
Manual Way to Stop Spam Comments on WordPress
First, let’s find out the smart ways to stop spam comments and protect your website with the help of your default WordPress settings.
1. Limit the Number of Links Allowed per Post
In most of the spam comments, you will notice that spambots add links to trick people into clicking on those links. So the first step you can take is limiting the number of links in a comment with the help of comment moderation settings of WordPress.
By limiting the number of links, you will stop spam bots and protect your website from attaching a lot of links in the comment section as well as for real users. It is worth trying because you will limit the number of links to a lower number or eliminate the possibility of posting links under your content.
To set the number of allowed links, go to Settings > Discussion and look for the Comment Moderation section. Now set the preferred number of links that you want to allow for visitors par comment; for no link allowance, you need to put 0 in the textbox and save the settings.
2. Activate Comment Moderation System
Comment moderation is when you would like to approve all the comments by a person before allowing them to appear in the comment section. It is a great way to check the incoming comments, and with moderation, you will be able to keep your comment section spam-free.
It could be a time-consuming process if your website gets a good chunk of traffic every day. You might need to deal with a lot of comments and decide whether they should appear on your web page.
If you have very engaging content and you would like to interact with your readers frequently, then you should use the comment moderation setting. For newer websites, though, comment moderation still is a very effective strategy to keep comment spams isolated from the web pages.
The comment moderation setting is easy to configure in WordPress. All you need to open Settings and then go to the Discussion section and check the “comment must manually approved“ box.
3. Make It a Two-Step Process for Comment Approval
As you know, spambots are just software trying to post spam comments everywhere possible or on the websites that match with their comment posting criteria. Whether it’s a spam bot or a real user trying to spam on your page, they are not going anywhere if you place a verification step to help you protect your website before comments are getting approval.
In WordPress Discussion settings, you will find an option called “common authors must have a previously approved comment” that allows users to comment if they already have at least one approved comment.
Such protection will significantly prevent and protect your website from spam bots or human posted spams on your site.
4. Create a Comment Blacklist
Many spam comments contain similar keywords, and sometimes you may notice that those comments are 100% similar. This nature of spam comments makes it a lot easier for you to recognize them, and you can block such comments permanently.
WordPress default comment settings allow you to create a blacklist of comments with the help of specific keywords, URL, author’s name, IP address, and author’s email address. Once you add any of these to your blacklist, comments with the keyboard, name, IP address, or email will be automatically moved to the trash.
It can be a bold step towards preventing comment spam; however, it may sometimes stop legitimate comments because of keyword matching, so you need to be careful and truly understand what you are doing.
You can create your comment blacklist under WordPress settings > Discussion section.
5. Allow Only Registered Users to Comment on Your Site
You can make it even more challenging for the stamina by informing them that they need to register on your site for placing a comment under content. It will completely isolate the spambots, and you will also be benefited from loyal readers registering on your website.
As for human spammers, you are creating a logical firewall because they are not going to register on your site just to place comment spam as they have many more available websites to spread spam.
You can find this discussion setting under the Other comment settings section.
With all these available options on WordPress, you can drastically reduce spam comments from your site.
Next, we have Akismet, which is a WordPress plugin and able to protect your website from comment spam. In the following part, we will explore the features it brings to your site to fight against spammers.
Stop Spam Comments With Akismet
The approach of Akismet to spam protection is different from the typical WordPress approach of blocking spam comments. This tool automatically checks for comment and form submission against its Global spam database and protect your website from spammers.
It is a similar approach to the Windows Defender, which scans your system files and matches them with their malware database to find any possible virus injection.
We all know how good Akismet is, so without further explanation, let’s find out the required steps you need to take with this plugin installed on your website.
1. Configure the Akismet Plugin
Akismet is a freemium plugin. They have three different plans for commercial use and one free plan for personal use, and all these four plans include the spam protection system.
Once you install the plugin, you need to connect the website with the Akismet server using a unique API key.
During the initial setup, you can define the strictness that Akismet will adapt on your site regarding spam protection. You can allow the plugin to wipe out all the spam comments entirely without reviewing them manually. Or you can set the plugin to put spam comments into the spam folder for review purposes.
If you don’t care about a possible mistake by the plugin, then you can go for the first option instead choose the following one.
After configuration, there is not pretty much you need to because, after the setup, Akismet will start preventing spam comments automatically.
In case you have applied the strictness settings to “put the spam comments into the spam folder for a review” then sometimes you may find that the plugin is blocking comments which are not spams or comment from genuine users then you can use API calls for spam recheck, submit false positive.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches to protect your website from spam. We are listing some of the pros and cons noticed while exploring them practically.
Advantages & Disadvantages (Manual Way)
- You do not need to install another plugin for the sake of protecting your site from spam.
- Have full authority over what to do with the spam comments.
- Control the default settings to set the requirements for a comment to appear under your content.
- You can create your blacklist and specify which keywords you don’t want on your page.
- Manually verify the comments before allowing them to appear publicly.
- No automation hance takes a significant amount of effort and is a time-consuming process.
- Blacklist keys can anticipate a genuine user to comment on your site.
Advantages & Disadvantages (Akismet plugin)
- One time setup and hassle-free option to fight against spammers.
- Strong and globalized protection against comment spam.
- No need to play with WordPress discussion settings, including the blacklist option.
- Can automatically delete the spam comments and keep your spam folder clear.
- You can manually review the comments before entirely removing them from your site.
- Yet another plugin installed on your site, so additional code needs to be loaded into your page.
- Akismet uses a cloud server instead of your local server, so it continually needs to send requests and receive the server’s responses. Thus it can consume extra bandwidth.
- You don’t have any specific control over preventing spam comments, other than adjusting the strictness setting.
Giving a decision between two largely popular tools is not easy. However, from what we have discussed so far in protecting your site from spam comments, it’s a mixed feeling amid the automation, performance, and control regarding both methods.
I would personally prefer WP default settings over Akismet only because of it’s tweaking ability and friendly environment to site performance. Although, if you are more focused on creating content, you should try Akismet.
It depends upon the working environment and personal interest in choosing between manual spam checking and Akismet, but both ways, you will resist well against spam. In terms of automation, Akismet gives you an edge, while for control and site performance default comment system has a better design than Akismet.
And finally, we hope this post was able to draw your interest and help you someway to protect your website. Don’t forget to subscribe for similar content and share your thoughts on our comment box below.