Even if you aren't a complete computer guru, you probably know what "spam" is; having an email account means dealing with spam on almost a daily basis. When managing a WordPress site, you'll notice that as traffic starts to increase, so do the amount of spam comments and form submissions. They often come in the form of a generic comment with something like, "Cool site! Really inspiring content!" Generally these comments are done automatically by bots with the goal of linking back to the owner's site with a quality content link from your site. This ultimately increases their SEO, but might not be good for yours in the long run. On top of that, these spam comments might give your real viewers an unprofessional impression of your site. In this article, we'll talk about how to reduce spam comments on your WordPress website.
WordPress Discussion Settings
Go to your "Settings" in the admin dashboard and go to "Discussion". This section will help you configure the most basic comment settings.
Other Comment Settings
Sometimes spammers tend to leave spam comments on your old articles, so that you won't find be able to easily find and delete it. In "Other comment settings", you can make your articles automatically close comment functionality after a set number of days. While we don't highly recommend this option, it does do a great job of keeping spam to a minimum.
Before a Comment Appears
In "Before a comment appears" section, you can control which comments are published to the website automatically, and which comments are sent to the moderation queue.
This way, if you have return visitors who frequently comment you don't have to approve the same visitor every time when this person leaves a comment. This not only saves you time, but is also less irritating to the person leaving the comment.
You can hold comments which contain links in "Comment Moderation". Aside from the content of the comment itself, this is generally a dead giveaway for spam content. After you make sure that this comment is not a spam, you can approve it for display on your site.
In your "Comment Blacklist", you can put in some words that you want to ban, so that the comments which have these words will automatically be marked as spam. Be careful which words you choose to ban as it will loosely match words. For example, "book" will match "Facebook".
A great list to get you started can be found here. The blacklist file covers thousands of commonly used keywords in spam comments and helps severly cut down on the number of spam comments that get through.
To ensure that no spam ever get through, the safest way is to approve every comment manually. However, it's quite time-consuming for high-traffic websites which receive lots of comments every day. Often the best method is configuring your comments setting correctly initially so you can set it and forget it.
Install an Anti-Spam Plugin
After configuring your WordPress comments setting, you can also download an anti-spam plugin for your website to help you make it even more difficult for spammers. There are hundreds of very helpful anti-spam plugins that you can download, such as "Spam Free WordPress", "WP Anti Spam", "Anti-spam", "Anti-spam by CleanTalk." We recommend trying a few out to see which you like the best. Our favorite at the time of writing is the Google Recaptcha which generally just requires a checkbox saying "I am not a robot."
The last thing to keep in mind is make sure your forms are easy enough for your real users to leave comments otherwise you may end up losing real visitors who want to interact.
Hopefully this article gets you on your way to preventing a lot of the annoying spam that a WordPress blog generates. Make sure and bookmark for more WordPress tips and tutorials!