Spamming is a prevalent and recurring problem among the users using WordPress websites. Specifically, comment spamming and registration spamming create unnecessary data that clog the website, damaging the credibility and reputation of the website owner. Web sites get spammed mostly due to malicious intent from spammers. These include getting better page ranking by getting more number of visits, luring unsuspecting users to dubious and harmful sites. Mostly, automated software or ‘bots’ are also responsible for spams.
Thankfully, this problem may be tackled today with the variety of tools and processes available at our disposal. These plugins, tips, and settings described below will go a long way in almost completely eradicating the spamming problem when used in the correct and synergic way.
Configure Discussion Settings on WordPress
This may be the first step for you to follow before installing anti-spam software and tools. You can find these in the admin section under the Settings header. The most secure way of avoiding spam is to manually approve every comment. In case you find this time-consuming, you may approve the first comment of every user before allowing him to post comment regularly.
In the case of users posting links in your comment area, you may place these in the moderation queue for review. Some comments will be banned automatically in case they contain any word or phrase you have already earmarked in your blacklist. Also, inviting comment from users registered on your website is another way to prevent spamming. Disabling automatic member registration also prevents spammers from creating fake accounts on your websites.
One of the main purposes behind spamming is to get backlinks. To prevent this feature, especially in case where it is not necessary, this may be disabled in the Discussion Settings menu. You may disable this feature for the entire site or for specific posts.
Turn Off Comments on Old Posts
WordPress allows you to turn off the comment posting feature after a certain specified period for every post. This may be done through the Discussion menu under Settings. You need to specify the time period for displaying comments, after which the comment section is closed. You may override this for specific posts if needed. This ultimately reduces unwanted comments on your website.
Nofollow Comment Links
Often while you make a WordPress blog site, the ‘nofollow’ attribute is unchecked. The idea is to encourage comments from users, but this also results in a lot of spam. Also, users often use this opportunity to post irrelevant comments to encourage backlinks to their sites. Also, you should avoid using plugins that use the same technique to invite more traffic.
So, you may configure these discussion settings before you make a blog website according to your preference and expected traffic. The next step would be installing WordPress plugins that specifically fight spamming as described below.
Activate Akismet Plugin
The Akismet plugin will start operation immediately upon installation and key activation. It will start by checking every submitted comment against their database of spam sites. In case there is a similarity, these comments will be placed in the spam folder. This enables you to check whether a legitimate content is being marked as spam or spam is getting through. In the second case, you may mark them as ‘spam’ to improve Akismet’s performance over time. The popularity of this software is due to its high rate of accuracy in identifying spam sites. Also, this plugin does not interfere with the functioning of other anti-spam plugins.
Activate Growmap Anti Spam Bot Plugin
This plugin addresses the problem of comment and registration spamming. The idea is the removal of all automated spams from your website. The software includes advanced comment logging and blacklisting features. Growmap helps you to block relentless spammers in a better way. You can prevent publishing on your blog from proxy sites also.
Block Spam Comment Bots Using Honeypot
The ‘honeypot’ technique is used for preventing spamming bots from posting contents on your website. The WordPress Spam Fighter plugin needs to be installed first and then the ‘honeypot’ button needs to be enabled from the Settings menu. This activates an invisible field in your comment entry section which will only be visible to bots. This field needs to be empty, but since bots are programmed to fill every field, they get caught and identified.
Reduce Spam Comments with Cookies
This method is a great way to reduce bot-spamming significantly while identifying actual traffic. The bots do not download data in order to cover more ground in less time. You need to download the “Cookies for Comment” plugin; this sends downloadable content to the bot. In case the content is downloaded, the plugin marks the site as genuine.
Add CAPTCHA Verification
The WP-reCAPTCHA plugin enables the usage of CAPTCHA on the comment forms. The plugin shows an image of random CAPTCHA characters, which needs to be filled to gain access. The spam bots fail to perform this task like humans, thus letting through spams submitted manually only. The reCAPTCHA plugin is an effective way of blocking spambots.
Remove Website URL Field from Comment Form
Inviting the entry of a URL in your comment from attracts lots of spams. This includes both human and bots that use this field to enter gibberish data and paste their URL links in your site. So, it is a good idea to disable this field in your comment form when you make a blog site.
Disable Comments on Media Attachments
WordPress automatically adds a comment section to your image files when they are published on your websites. This may create multiple comment sections when such files are linked to web pages. So, it is a good practice to disable this feature unless you are running an image-centric website.
Disable HTML in Comments Section
You may also deny entry of HTML codes or links in your comments section by using specific plugins. Activating these plugins will get all your comments filtered for HTML codes and entries. This will disable the functioning of such entries while still showing up in the comments section.
To conclude, if you are diligent enough and follow the tips and guidelines specified above, there will be a significant reduction of spam content in your website. On may go so far as to say you may make your website spam-free with a little discipline, smart usage of plugins and proper WordPress Website Settings which are already at your disposal.