Posted on October 17, 2016

How to Reduce Comment Spam on WordPress

Comment spam affects millions of WordPress users around the world. With cheap software such as ScrapeBox, it’s never been easier for spammers to locate blogs and automatically post spam links in the comments section.

People often leave spam comments to get a backlink. Backlinks can often help with search engine rankings and spammers are looking for a quick and easy way to create lots of them.

There are a number of things you can do to reduce comment spam. Unfortunately, you will never completely get rid of spam comments, and it is something you will have to actively monitor.

Settings

Ensure that you change your WordPress settings to discourage spammers. You at least should ensure that a comment is manually approved before it is published. You might also want to consider requiring users to be registered and logged in before they can comment. However, if you require users to be logged in, you are making it difficult for legitimate users to leave a comment, and this may result in fewer comments.

Akismet

Akismet is one of the most powerful tools available to reduce comment spam, and it’s installed with every default WordPress installation. The only thing you need to do is enable it.

In order to enable Akismet, you will need to get an API key. You can create a free account on the Akismet website, follow the instructions to obtain and use your API key. This will prevent the majority of spammers, although it will not catch them all.

Footprints

You may have noticed your WordPress website says “leave a comment” at the end of a post. This text is not unique to your website. In fact, many millions of websites will have the same text in the same position. This is known as a footprint, and spammers use them to locate their potential targets.

Because a footprint is something which is the same on all websites, it enables the spammer to find a list of websites that they can then spam. It isn’t possible to remove all the footprints on your website, but you can remove many of them. For example:
. Change the way the date is displayed
. Edit “Leave a comment” to say something different
. Remove “Powered by WordPress” from the footer
The fewer footprints you have on your website, the less the spammers will be able to locate your blog. This will help to reduce the amount of spam received.

Nofollow Links

Many spammers are targeting dofollow links as they attempt to use these links to rank their websites higher in search engines. You can simply install a plugin and change all outbound links to nofollow, thereby discouraging spammers.

Cookies

A helpful plugin for reducing comment spam is called Cookies for Comments. In most instances, spammers use automated software to post links. To save time, most tools such as ScrapeBox won’t download images or style sheets. This plugin will send a cookie if the user’s browser downloads an image or stylesheet. If the user doesn’t have a cookie on their computer, they can’t leave a comment.

Captchas

Many legitimate users find captchas annoying. However, they can significantly reduce spam comments. Many spam bots use automated software to post comments. It is possible for automated tools to solve captchas, but that becomes more difficult to do as captchas become more complex.

If you think that standard text input catpchas are annoying, you can use an alternative style that asks the user a simple question. These questions are often less intrusive than regular captchas.

Removing URLs

As most spammers are looking for backlinks, you shouldn’t give them the opportunity to leave URLs in the comment form. Similarly, you should remove the ability to leave HTML code in the comment.

Turn Off Commenting

If you don’t need people commenting on your blog, or if comment moderation is taking too much of your time, you can always turn off the ability to allow comments in the discussion settings. This will completely eliminate the possibility of receiving comment spam. If you don’t want to turn off commenting for all your blog posts, you can turn off commenting on older posts.

WordPress comment spam can be extremely annoying, and it can soon spiral out of control if you don’t do anything about it. Spam can slow down your website, and spammy links can also affect your SEO score, which could result in lower search engine rankings.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to reduce spam. This includes using plugins such as Akismet and Cookies for Comments. You can also use captchas, remove footprints, or turn off commenting on older posts.

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