WordPress is the most preferred content management system (CMS) and site builder for several reasons. WordPress is easy to navigate, and the added features and plugins are also useful for digital marketers. While WordPress seems like a complete tool that can simplify most of your tasks, there are still some things you need to keep in mind. Just like with any other online platform, it is imperative to monitor your activities and make necessary changes.
Comment Spam: Still A Problem For WordPress Users
Despite the unending efforts of WordPress developers, comment spam is still a big problem. According to statistics posted by Akismet, the amount of WordPress comment spam is 24 times higher than the amount of legitimate comments. On average, the WP system deals with more than 132 million spammers every month.
Comment spam usually happens when your site starts to generate more traffic. The quick-fix for this is to simply disable the comment section or manually sort and delete them. Digital marketers, however, do not recommend disabling the comment section because this is one way to engage your audience. But the sort-and-delete method can also be counterproductive.
Comment spam can make your website look unprofessional. It also can contain malicious links and malware, which could affect your credibility as well. Use the following tips below to understand how to stop WordPress comment spam:
TIP #1: Reduce the Number of Links Allowed in Posts
Spam comments usually contain links to trick people. Some also use it as part of their Black hat SEO techniques — the unethical SEO practice to boost site rankings. Limiting the number of links allowed in the comment section does not necessarily eliminate irrelevant comments, but this should slow down the spammers attempting to drop links on your site.
How to do this?
From your dashboard, go to Settings → Discussion → Comment Moderation, and make necessary adjustments.
TIP #2: Install Anti-Spam Plugins
The best way to prevent WordPress comment Spam is to install anti-spam plugins. These tools easily detect spammers and malicious links. It also allows you to filter out comment spam automatically. Some of the recommended plugins include Akismet, Antispam Bee, WP-SpamShield, AntiSpam by Cleantalk and WordPress Zero Spam.
Note: There are free versions of these tools, but if you’re looking for more comprehensive anti-spam features, you should go for the premium subscriptions. Additionally, check the compatibility of the plugin to your site. Most of these tools have specific API requirements.
TIP #3: Use a New Comment System
There are now several plugins that help users manage comments and improve website engagement at the same time. Integrating these tools with your CMS should help eliminate comment spam. Discuss, Jetpack, wpDiscuz and Postmatic are some of the tools you should check out. Other sites also use Facebook comments for more user validation and to boost social media engagement as well.
Note: Again, check plugin compatibility to your site because most tools have specific requirements.
TIP #4: Restrict Comment Privileges
Restricting comment privileges to registered users is another effective way to prevent WordPress comment spam. Adding an extra hurdle for spammers should make them hesitate and just move on to the next target. Additionally, it also encourages visitors to sign up for an account or a membership.
How to do this?
Go to Settings → Discussion → Other Comment Settings, then make necessary changes.
TIP #5: Enable Comment Moderation
Another option to stop comment spam in WordPress is to enable comment moderation. This built-in feature allows you to manually approve each comment. This may not reduce comment spam, but it’s the most effective way to ensure your visitors only see relevant and helpful comments.
Using the same plugin, you may also try the comment blacklist. Comment spams have recognizable keywords. You can put them on a blacklist to remove them automatically from your database.
Note: You can add any word or phrase to a blacklist, including URLs and IP addresses. Additionally, keep in mind that the system will also remove partial words included on the list. This means if the blacklisted word is “factor,” words like “factorization” and “factors” will be removed as well.
TIP #6: Remove the WordPress Author Comment Link
By default, WordPress hyperlinks the names of anyone who leaves comments. Spammers are aware of this, so they just leave any comment to drop links. While these links are no-follow — meaning search algorithms ignore them — they still do it knowing your site is generating traffic in hopes of someone clicking on it.
Remove author comment links by adding a snippet of code to your site. In case you don’t want to edit your theme directly, you can also check out free WordPress code snippets plugins to activate this.
Here’s an overview if you’re adding it in the Code Snippets plugin. Don’t forget to select “Only run on-site front-end” to avoid discrepancies in your settings.
TIP #7: Add Google reCaptcha Verification
Using the reCaptcha plugin is another effective solution to stop WordPress comment spam. This tool can detect spambots and validate human users. When adding this to your site, the system requires users to click on the checkbox before posting a comment. Additionally, reCaptcha also reports to Google when they detect any spam.
Note: Most reCaptcha plugins are annoying to site visitors, so make sure to choose the best option available.
TIP #8: Turn Off Anonymous Comments
Disabling anonymous comments limits the number of spambots to your site. By default, the system asks the visitor for some information, including names, emails, and websites. If anonymous comments are enabled, they don’t need to fill out this information sheet, which makes your site prone to spammers and web bots.
How to do this?
Go to Settings → Discussion, check the “Comment author must fill out name and email” option.
Following these tips should help manage your WordPress comment section. Make your website look more professional to your audience by removing WordPress comment spam. Take advantage of the WordPress tools available. Always check system and plugin updates to ensure everything runs smoothly. You can also visit the WordPress Support Forum for more information.