Posted on January 10, 2017

A Guide to Reducing WordPress Comment Spam

Comment spam is the bane of nearly every WordPress webmaster and if you don’t do anything about it, you’ll end up with 100s of spam comments on your website. Even if you do moderate comments, you’ll still receive many spam comments which need to be deleted and this can be very time-consuming. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help you reduce WordPress comment spam.

Change the Settings

The first thing you should do is ensure that you are moderating all comments. Ensure that all comments must be manually approved before they go live on your website. This may be more time consuming, but spam can cause problems for your website. Pages can become slow to load, and you can drop down in the search engine rankings due to linking out to poor quality websites.

Akismet & Other Plugins

Akismet comes pre-installed on every installation of WordPress. To activate it, you need to visit akismet.com and get an API key. Akismet will block many spam comments and send them directly to the spam folder.

On top of Akismet, there are also other plugins which have been designed to tackle comment spam. These plugins include WP-SpamShield Anti-Spam, Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin, and Anti-spam by CleanTalk no CAPTCHA).

Captchas

Many spammers use automated software to post spam comments on your website. You can use a captcha to ensure that commenters are human and not robots. This will reduce the number of spam comments you receive but captchas can be annoying for real users and it makes it more difficult for real people to submit comments.

Remove the URL and Strip HTML

Spammers are looking to get backlinks from your website. If you don’t allow links, then you’ll reduce comment spam. You can remove the URL option and only require the person’s name and email address when leaving a comment. Moreover, you shouldn’t allow HTML to be used in comments.

Cookies for Comments

Many spam bots are scripts which automatically post to your website. To save time and data, they don’t download cookies, images, or stylesheets. Therefore, if you use a plugin such as “Cookies for Comments”, you can set it so that the user needs a cookie installed on their computer before they can leave a comment. This will stop most automated scripts from posting comments to your website.

Remove Footprints

To send comment spam, spammers must first build lists of websites they want to target. To do this, they look for footprints. A footprint is something which appears on many websites. For example, WordPress adds the text “Proudly Powered by WordPress” to the footer. It also says “Leave a Comment” above the comment section. These footprints often appear on millions of websites around the world and footprints allow spammers to add your website to their list. Therefore, you need to remove any default text on your theme which could be used as a footprint.

Turn Off Comments

If you’ve tried everything above and you’re still getting many spam comments, you might want to turn off comments altogether. If you don’t allow any comments, it is impossible for comment spammers to spam you.

Comment Spam can get so bad that it takes over your entire website. There are cases where a single website can get hundreds or thousands of spam comments every day. Although most people won’t be spammed to such a high degree, most webmasters will receive spam comments at one point.

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