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July 5, 2014
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Fighting WordPress spam comments

Fighting WordPress spam comments

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/people/jeepersmedia/

I love WordPress. I’ve built sites using wordpress and I do a lot of SEO work for clients based on WordPress websites. I’ve been getting regular questions about WordPress spam comments. So, I decided to write a post about dealing with spam comments on WordPress sites.

Let’s start with where these comments are coming from. First of all, most of these WordPress spam comments are done for the purposes of SEO / link building via blog comments. Here’s what Google says about comment spam as an SEO tactic. It’s usually done via an automated method (i.e. 10,000 comments made by a robot). In this case not-so-whitehat SEO is auto-creating tons of links and looking at what sticks (because some of those links may get approved). Here’s what you get as a notification in your mailbox when a WordPress spam comments are made on your site:

Website : Toms Outlet (IP: 222.77.83.227 , 222.77.83.227)
URL : [full page address of a site trying to build links through commenting]
Trackback excerpt:
<strong>Toms Outlet</strong>

Hi there, I check your blogs named “Bonjour! | [your blog post name]” daily. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep it up! And you can look our website about Toms Outlet.

Approve it: http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/comment.php?action=approve&c=2
Trash it: http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/comment.php?action=trash&c=2
Spam it: http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/comment.php?action=spam&c=2
Currently 1 comment is waiting for approval. Please visit the moderation panel:

http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?comment_status=moderated

Fight WordPress spam comments!

These WordPress spam comments take time to review, especially when you don’t know what they are and why they’re coming to you. There’s a few things you can do to deal with these spam comments. So, let’s take a look at your options.

Option 1: Do nothing

By default they’re drafted for moderation in WordPress (make sure you have it configured). They don’t really hurt you as long as you don’t publish them. So, the simplest recommendation is to ignore those comments. Everyone gets them. Best of all, this option is free. Just make sure that you get into a habit of screening those comments and deleting them from your mailbox.

Option 2: Disable comments altogether

Some site owners may want to disable comments throughout the site. If you’re not planning to accept and reply to comments, this is your option. To do that go inside Settings > Discussion and update the settings. This is a simple adjustment that you can do on your own. It’s easy, fast and free. The minus here is that if you blog regularly (which is highly recommended in today’s digital landscape) you won’t be able to communicate with your readers with your comments closed. And it’s like shooting yourself in the foot of your content marketing strategy.

If you still want to do it, here’s a quick 1- minute video from WPBeginner to show you how to turn off comment notifications in WordPress:

Your site may also collect comments from pages other than your articles. Some WordPress themes come with comments enabled on your pages. If this is the case and you haven’t already disabled comments on your pages, then here’s how you do it:

Option 3: Adjust WordPress comment settings

A more involved (time-wise) option is to update the Discussion settings on your WordPress blog so that the commenting rules are very strict (i.e. only allowing comments from registered users who were previously approved for commenting). It’ll give you some peace of mind but still some WordPress spam comments will pass through and you’ll need to update your settings regularly to ensure your site is protected from spam comments. Again, to edit these settings go Settings > Discussion. There’s a bunch of advice out there on how to tighten up your discussion settings in WordPress.

Please keep in mind that each blogger will have his / her own comment policy. Some might want to have a tighter security to ensure that every comment is moderated. Other bloggers who get a lot of quality comments may not want to approve every comment. Anyways, take a look at the video and create your own security level to protect your site from WordPress spam comments.

Option 4: Install Disqus commenting plugin

This option will require installing and configuring a free commenting plugin by Disqus. Disqus is a standalone commenting platform that helps people communicate on the web through commenting plugins installed on websites. I personally tested this option and it fights WordPress spam comments well for me. Of course I get occasional spam comment here and there, but for the most part, it’s a huge improvement. Plus it offers great options for comment moderation and interlining your other posts with similar topics. To use this option you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Register an account with Disqus
  2. Install and configure the Disqus WP plugin
  3. Enjoy your commenting system by Disqus!

To make it visual, here’s a short YouTube video about installing and activating Disqus comments on your WordPress website. Thanks to guys at WP Knowledge Base for producing it.

Option 5: Buy and install Akismet

Finally, Akismet is the most expensive option of the above. It’s a solid spam protection plugin that’s affiliated with WordPress in some way (Akismet is now part of WordPress, I believe). The bottomline is that WordPress and Akismet are highly integrated. It’s even installed as a default plugin when you install your WordPress. If it’s not, get the Akismet plugin. Akismet has both free and paid options. Free for non-profits. I personally suggest that you purchase a smaller package, but still pay for the tool. People have worked hard to make Akismet and they should be rewarded. Here’s what you need to do to follow this route:

  1. Have your WordPress.com account ready (or create one here)
  2. Log into Akismet using your WordPress.com account
  3. Choose the spam protection package you want to use
  4. Install / activate your Akismet plugin in your WordPress install
  5. Get Akismet API key and insert it in Akismet WP settings
  6. All your comments should now go through Akismet filter

Here’s a very short (3+ mins) and a simple video on how to install and run Akismet spam protection plugin for WordPress. By the way, I wanted to thank the authors of this video for creating such a simple, professional and short video on the topic. Most other videos I looked at were close to 10 minutes long and were poorly done. Watch more videos like that at My Digital Dispatcher channel on YouTube.

In my experience, once your site gets better rankings these spam-bots start bombarding you with these automated WordPress spam comments. Good thing is that your site is probably doing well in Google, otherwise you wouldn’t have such a problem :). I hope these simple tips on WordPress spam comments protection for your site will help you. Consider leaving a comment or two if you’d like to share your experience.

  • Guest

    hi

  • Mona Ali
  • Daniel Miller

    I’ve already adjusted my comment settings and even if I got 2-3 complaints from some readers, most said this was a good idea. I have now drastically reduced the amount of WordPress spam comments I receive from about 40+ daily to 3-5, which is pretty amazing! And I also think offering an account to my commenters has created a sort of community some love to be part of.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ alexander zagoumenov

      Daniel, you’re right about building a community with Disqus. The system really fosters the discussion and allows for great moderation environment. You can always close down the comments to avoid spam comments, but you would be closing down the community at the same time.

  • Anthony Wilson

    I started using Disqus a little while ago and did a few comments on some blogs I like. It all works great but I never thought about using this platform for my own blog. I will try to install that WP plugin and see if I can get rid of some of my WordPress spam comments. 3 months ago I wasn’t getting any spam but since 2-3 of my posts when more viral, I have my inbox filled with spam.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ alexander zagoumenov

      Anthony, thanks for confirming my point (the higher you rank the more spam comments you get)! I hope you enjoy a much better spam protection and conversations with Disqus on your site. Cheers!

  • Julia Martins

    I’ve been using Akismet for a couple of months and I’m very happy with it. It gets almost anything that even smells like WordPress spam comments. I think only about 1% of the total spam I receive actually makes it through Akismet’s filters so I am very happy! I’ve tried all the other methods you mentioned above and nothing worked for me.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ alexander zagoumenov

      Julie, thanks a lot for your comment! I’m glad Akismet worked for you. Thanks for sharing!

  • Stephen Segura

    Your last paragraph hit home for me as I have a site that has just reached 1st page on Google and while I wasn’t receiving any kind of WordPress spam comments until now, just yesterday I got 200+ such comments! I’m very happy about being ranked so high but I need to do something about all this spam. The funny thing is that my niche is not even that well known and I still got a lot of spammy messages.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ alexander zagoumenov

      Stephen, congrats on high rankings! Let us know which spam protection tool you ended up using.

  • Mandanna Ellen

    After hearing you talk about Akismet I’ve had a look at their prices and the Business option is just $5! I wasn’t expecting such a low price considering this seems to be one of the best options to fight WordPress spam comments. I get a license for just 1 site and 80.000 checks but that is enough for me for the moment.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ alexander zagoumenov

      Thanks for sharing, Ellen! Indeed, Akismet is very affordable and the tool is very much worth it.

  • Jason McIntyre

    I had no choice but disable my comments because I would only get about 5% real comments that actually helped my blog! I was getting over 250 spam comments almost daily and I just got fed up with it and closed comments for good. I would have liked to be able to grow a community of commenters but because of spammers I won’t be able to.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ alexander zagoumenov

      Jason, I hope smap doesn’t stop you from communicating to your audience. The option you’ve chosen is actually quite popular with many of my clients. The best thing, it works! But I still recommend looking into an option that allows for communications with your target audience.

  • Michael Towner

    I love Disqus! I love to comment on it and also use it for the blogs I have! It makes things extremely easy and straightforward. It helped me reduce spam comments in WordPress and while I still get the odd spam in there, it’s much better than anything I ever used.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ alexander zagoumenov

      Michael, I’m 100% with you here. I like Disqus for the easy of comment moderation. The guys at Disqus did a great job thinking the interface and functionality through.

  • Jonathan Matthew Bridges

    Option 3 sounds interesting. I saw some blogs doing this but never considered it for my own blog. I think some of my readers will appreciate this while others (maybe a small amount) will hate this extra hoop they have to go through to comment. But, in the end it might be worth it just to get rid of those WordPress spam comments I keep getting.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ Alex Zagoumenov

      Thanks for the comment, Jonathan.

  • Hellena Tisdale

    I wanted to disable comments a couple of times but I have about 50+ readers that like to communicate through comments with me and I would hate to lose them. I get about 30-40 daily WordPress spam comments so it’s not a scary amount but it does become tiresome at some point.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ Alex Zagoumenov

      Hellena, thank you for sharing. Indeed, you bring up a good point – you need comments to communicate with your audience and that’s the fact. I suggest you give the following third party commenting systems a try: Disqus, Livefyre, Google and Facebook. Let me know how these work out for you.

  • Sara Pialla

    I hate WordPress spam comments and spam in general! I have a page on one of my sites that receives hundreds of spam comments every couple of days. I tried to ignore them but they are so many! I’ve had a look yesterday and I had over 2000 comments in the last 4 days! I had to delete them all because it would take me ages to go through them and see which ones were actually real comments.

    • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ Alex Zagoumenov

      Sara, thanks for sharing. By the number of spam comments it looks like your site is ranking really well for its keywords :). Dealing with large quantities of spam comments is daunting. What I suggest won’t solve the spam problem but it can make your life a bit easier deleting large quantities of spam. Delete pending comments: https://wordpress.org/plugins/delete-pending-comments/. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

  • http://www.zagoumenov.com/ alexander zagoumenov

    I just posted a new article on fighting WordPress spam comments. In this post I share both free WordPress spam tools and paid spam protection options. Share your experience fighting WordPress spam comments too!