A common complaint on WordPress websites are the excessive amount of spam comments on blog posts. Lets go through some ways we can reduce or eliminate the spam.
Disable WordPress comments
Of course, the simplest thing you can do is disable comments. I’ve done this a few times. Some businesses or industries do not see much of a benefit from comments anyway. This may be something that you want to test first to see if it has a benefit for you. It can provide some search engine optimization (SEO) benefits if comments add relevant ideas to your content or if people are engaged in the comments. To have an engaged audience, you may have to be engaged yourself, which requires extra work from you or your team. If it is not producing any benefits to your business, go ahead and disable the comments.
- In the left sidebar of the WordPress dashboard, hover over “Settings” and click on “Discussion”
- In the “Default post settings” section, uncheck “Allow people to submit comments on new posts”.
Modify WordPress Discussion Settings
The discussion settings provide several options that may help you drastically reduce spam. I won’t cover all of them but you should review them all. Before you decide to disable comments, consider the following solutions.
Require users to be logged in to comment
You can allow people to register on your website to engage on your website and require anyone who wants to comment to be a registered user. This will eliminate most, but not all spammers. It does offer the benefit of collecting people’s information that you can use to market to them. On the other hand it creates a barrier for the casual user to engage on your website so you may get less people engaging.
- In the “Other comment settings” section of the Discussions settings, check the box for “Users must be registered and logged in to comment”.
- Make sure you go the General Settings (instead of the Discussion Settings) and check the box for “Anyone can register”.
Add a comments blacklist
An easy and cheap (free) way to decrease your comment spam is to add words or phrases to either the “Comment Moderation” or the “Disallowed Comment Keys” section in the discussion settings of your dashboard. Simply type in words or phrases into the box – one word or phrase per line. You can also add IP addresses to this list.
Comment Moderation vs. Disallowed Comment Keys
Adding words to the Comment Moderation list means that if a word on this list shows up in a comment, then it has to be approved by a moderator first before it is publicly visible on the website. Moderators will still have to read it, and either approve or disapprove the comment.
Adding a word to the Disallowed Comment Keys sends the comment directly to the trash. This is very useful for words or phrases that you know you don’t want published on your website. This could include curse words or words that are not relevant to your industry such as pharmaceutical terms. If your settings are set to send you an email for every moderation request, this can save you a lot of time.
Choose blacklisted words carefully
You should list common spam words in the discussion settings but be careful not to unintentionally block words that may be helpful. As an example, I have noticed a lot of spam comments that include pharmaceutical terms such as “Propecia”. As a digital marketer, I don’t see why any comment that includes the word “Propecia” would be beneficial to Emphasis.LA or anyone that would read anything on our website. I can safely add the word “Propecia” to the Disallowed Comment Keys and send these comments straight to the trash.
Another common pharmaceutical term is “Cialis”. This word is a little more tricky. I don’t want to see any comments with “Cialis”, but if I add it to the Disallowed Comments, then any comment that has the word “specialist” will also go directly to the trash. In this case it may be a better idea to add the term “Cialis” to the Comment Moderation list instead. These comments will likely be spam but there is a chance that someone might be looking for a “Website Development Specialist”. As an option you can add extra words or modifiers such as “buy cialis” or “_cialis” to the Disallowed Comments.
Find an already available comments blacklist
You don’t have to do all of the work yourself because someone else has already done most of the work. My favorite is this WordPress comment blacklist by someone with the username “splorp”. Just copy and paste their blacklist into the Disallowed Comments. You should probably occasionally look into the trashed comments to make sure you are not over-filtering but for most websites it should be fine.
If your business is in the pharmaceutical industry or any other industry that is used by spammers, then you will likely have to look for a different list or create one for yourself.
Install an anti-spam plugin
I don’t often use a plugin but that is definitely an option. A plugin such as Akismet can reduce the amount of spam comments you receive. It takes information it “learns” from all of the websites that use it to accurately detect and filter out spam comments. Akismet is free for personal use. Pricing starts at roughly $10 a month for commercial sites.
Comments can be very beneficial to a WordPress website but the comments spam can make it an annoying experience. Before turning off comments, try the solutions mentioned above. We feel they have made a huge difference for our websites. If you don’t see a benefit or the spam is just too much, you can always turn off the comments.
We hope you found this helpful. If you need someone to help you eliminate spam please contact us!