Although comments are an excellent way to boost engagement with your readers, but if you start getting spam comments on your WordPress website, then you need to take steps to prevent it as soon as you can. Otherwise, you might be at risk of losing your search engine ranking and even be exposed to cybersecurity attacks.
So how exactly do you stop the spammers? We’ve got a complete guide to help you out. In today’s tutorial, we will show you everything you need to know about spam comments and how to protect your WordPress website from comment spam.
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What Are Spam Comments And How To Identify Them?
We all want to see a lot of comments on our posts and pages. After all, the more comments you have, the more engagement you get. However, not all comments are good for your website. If you ever see comments that come with suspicious names, are made by someone whose email address ends with ‘@email.com’, or has links and content that are completely unrelated to your post, then chances are that it is a spam comment. Below, you can see what spam comments might look like.
Even when your website is relatively new, spammers might leave comments containing links to harmful websites on your posts and pages. Because of this, you might lose credibility among your readers, and your search engine ranking will suffer as Google will not rank websites that allow bad links to come up higher in the search results page.
In the long run, allowing spam comments on your WordPress posts and pages will reduce your traffic and prevent you from being able to grow your website. So, it’s always a good idea to be safer than sorry, and take steps to stop spam comments on your WordPress website from the start.
10 Proven Ways To Stop Spam Comments On WordPress
There are tons of ways you can stop spam comments on your WordPress website. The more popular your website becomes, the more steps you might have to take to protect yourself from comment spam. In this section, we are going to show you 10 tried and tested methods to prevent comment spam on your website.
Moderate Comments On Your WordPress Website
If your WordPress website is relatively new and you have enough time on your hands, then you can choose to manually moderate every individual comment on your website. All you have to do is head over to Settings→ Discussion from your WordPress dashboard and then scroll down to the ‘Before a comment appears’ section.
From here, you just need to check the ‘Comment must be manually approved’ checkbox and then click on the blue ‘Save Changes’ button to turn on manual comment moderation on your website.
Disable Comments On Posts, Pages, Media And Other Places
While turning on comment moderation is very effective to get some control over the comments on your website, it can be time consuming to go through each and every comment on your posts and pages.
That’s where WordPress plugins like Disable Comments come in. It is one of the most popular, free WordPress plugins for blocking spam comments and is beloved by over 1 million active users.
With this plugin, you can easily disable comments on posts, pages, media attachments or any other type of content on your WordPress website. You only need to install and activate the plugin, and then head over to Settings→ Disable Comments. From here, you can choose to disable comments on posts, pages and media attachments by clicking on the checkboxes as shown below.
If you are using WordPress knowledge base solutions, then you can also choose to disable comments on your documentation pages. You can even disable comments on product pages if you are using WooCommerce with the help of Disable Comments plugin. This way, you can restrict unnecessary comments on your website.
Globally Disable Comments On Your Website
If for any reason you do not want to allow any comments on your WordPress website, then you can do that easily with Disable Comments by navigating to Settings→ Disable Comments and then clicking on the ‘Everywhere’ option. This will let you take global control over all comment-related settings for your website and disable comments everywhere on your website.
Disable Comments Made via XML-RPC And REST API
Oftentimes, spammers do not leave comments on your website directly from WordPress. Instead, they leave spam comments using specifications like XML-RPC or applications like REST API.
What this means is that, instead of commenting from the WordPress installation, spammers can leave comments on your website by using third-party applications or websites. When this happens, your only solution is to stop WordPress spam comments made via REST API or XML-RPC.
Don’t worry, you can do this with a single click using Disable Comments plugin. As shown above, go to Settings→ Disable Comments and then scroll down to the ‘Disable Comments With API’ section. Here, you can toggle the options shown below to disable comments made via XML-RPC or REST API.
Delete Comments Permanently From WordPress
If your WordPress website is already overwhelmed with comment spam, then it might be a good idea to delete all comments from your website. With the Disable Comments plugin installed, head over to the ‘Delete Comments’ tab and then choose between deleting comments globally or from certain post types.
You can also choose to delete certain comment types like product reviews or generic comments permanently with this plugin. Whichever option you choose, keep in mind that deleting comments permanently will remove all comment entries from your website and cannot be undone unless you have a database backup.
Disallow Comments From Individual Posts
If you only want to disable comments from certain posts, you can do that easily using default WordPress settings. Just navigate to Posts→ All Posts from your WordPress dashboard. Then click on the ‘Edit’ option underneath the post where you want to disallow comments.
Next, scroll down to the ‘Discussion’ section and uncheck the ‘Allow Comments’ checkbox. If for any reason you cannot find this option, click on ‘Screen Options’ at the top of your screen, and ensure that the ‘Discussion’ checkbox has been checked.
This way, you can choose to stop spam comments on specific posts instead of totally disabling comments everywhere on your website.
Set Up Akismet Anti-Spam Protection On WordPress
You can also enable Akismet anti-spam protection on your WordPress website to stop spam comments. This is another popular free plugin that you can install to filter all comments with their anti-spam database and catch the most common types of spam comments.
Use Google reCAPTCHA Verification To Spam Comments
Since many comments are often made using spam bots, you can use plugins like reCAPTCHA Integration for WordPress to enable Google reCAPTCHA verification on your posts and pages. This will keep your website safe from spam bots as Google will differentiate between humans and bots, and give harder challenges if they detect any spam bot trying to leave comments on your website.
Turn Off Trackbacks And Pingbacks On Your WordPress Website
Another way to protect your website from comment spam is by turning off trackbacks and pingbacks on WordPress. Trackbacks are essentially manual notifications that you get when someone links to your content on their website. Pingbacks simply automate the process by sending you automatic notifications when someone else links to your content on their posts.
A vast majority of trackbacks and pingbacks tend to be spam, so it is usually a good idea to turn them off. You can do this easily by going to Settings→ Discussion from your WordPress dashboard and then unchecking the ‘Allow link notifications from other blogs’ checkbox.
If for some reason you still want to allow trackbacks and pingbacks on your WordPress website, then you might want to moderate them on a regular basis instead of approving them all. It is not recommended to do this though as moderating and checking each notification can be very time consuming.
Create A List Of Blacklisted Words
A lot of spam comments contain similar keywords, which you can blacklist to prevent comment spam on your website. When you create a list of blacklisted words, any comment that contains those keywords will be automatically sent to trash. It is important to be careful when doing this; as you might not want to disallow genuine comments on your content. You can check out this useful list of comments blacklist for WordPress on Github.
To summarize, comment spam is a problem for all kinds of websites, no matter how big or small. But, you can easily protect yourself from these spammers with the help of plugins like Disable Comments and all the other tips and tricks we mentioned above. With these tricks, you can develop a strong strategy to protect your WordPress website from spam comments.