Comment spam is the bane of many a blogger. Don’t believe me? Mention comment spam to a blogger next time you meet one and then stand back and watch as their face contorts into a weird and pained shape.
And the people who indulge in this seedy practice do not discriminate; they will hit popular blogs and blogs with little traffic in equal measure.
What is Comment Spam?
Comment spam is a comment that is left with the sole purpose to try and improve their SEO and/or gain some traffic. The people who leave them do not care about the content of your post and are only interested in trying to gain a backlink.
Spotting comment spam is rather easy, they will normally have keywords in their name like ‘playing poker online’ or made up names such as ‘johabell’. Their comments are also easy to spot as well as they normally have NOTHING to do with what your blog post has been about or they are rather generic (“nice post”, “thanks for sharing”, etc.).
Who is Behind This?
The truth is that the majority of people who take part in comment spam do not sit at their computers and manually leave their comments on loads of blogs (there are some who do this, but on a VERY small scale of about 50 blogs), they will use a script that will submit their comment to thousands of blog posts at the click of a button.
Is it a Bad Thing Then?
In short; yes it is.
Leaving these comments on your blog (as a lot of blog owners do) makes you look like you don’t care about your blog, and if you don’t care about your blog then why should your visitors care?
Google could penalise you if it doesn’t like the links that are being left in these comments. Remember that links should be related to the niche of your blog, and as most of these spammers will be using a script there is a good chance that most of the links will have nothing to do with your niche.
There is also a chance that some of the links contained in these comments could put your visitors’ computers at risk. They want to feel safe visiting your blog and won’t if one of these links directs them to a page that installs malware on their computer.
So How Can I Stop This?
There are a few ways that you can reduce the amount of comment spam on your blog. Here are four of them:
1. Hold Comments in Moderation
Many new bloggers may not be aware that you can actually hold comments in a queue for you to approve before they appear on your blog. Although this is a good method it can slow down discussion on your posts as they won’t show until you approve them.
- Go to Settings > Discussion in your WordPress dashboard.
- Under the ‘E-mail me whenever’ section tick the boxes ‘Anyone posts a comment’ and ‘A comment is held for moderation’.
- Under the ‘Before a comment appears’ section tick the box ‘Comment must be manually approved’.
You should also be ready for the increase in emails you will now be receiving.
2. Turn Comments off on Posts After # Days
You will find that the majority of the meaningful comments your post will receive will be within the first couple of weeks, after that you will find the comments coming in will be more spam than meaningful.
Comment spammers seem to love old posts, so I have long had a habit of turning comments off after a certain amount of time. I have found 30 days to be good for me, but some have found a shorter amount (and some have found a longer amount) to work better for them.
- Go to Settings > Discussion > > Other Comment Settings and check the box next to ‘Automatically close comments on articles older than’ and choose your number of days.
3. Turn off Trackback
A trackback is a notification that someone has linked to your blog post on their site. This can be used as a nice indicator to you, and your visitors, of who is linking to your posts. But the sad realisation is that in 15+ years I have only ever seen people use it to trick people into visiting their spam links.
I have happily been turning it off for a few years now.
- Go to Settings > Discussion > Default Article Settings and uncheck ‘Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)’.
4. Use Akismet & G.A.S.P
If you don’t fancy having to wade through THOUSANDS of comment spam that have been held in moderation then you might want to check out one of the many plugins that will help cut down the amount of comment spam.
Akismet is the king, and has been for a number of years now, but as the years have gone along some spammers have become more advanced and have managed to get around this plugin. This is why I use Akismet alongside another plugin called GASP (Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin).
GASP places a check box in the comment section which needs to be ticked in order for the comment to be submitted.
4. Shut Comments Section Down And Move Discussion to Social Media
In March of 2014 Copyblogger put the cat amongst the pigeons when they took the decision to shut their comment section down and move their discussion to LinkedIn. They made this decision because their staff were spending too much time removing comment spam from their blog.
When this happened it was unheard of and sparked a lot of debate, but now we are seeing more and more blogs shutting their comment sections and encouraging their readers to visit a Facebook/Google+/LinkedIn group to carry on the discussion.
Unless you wish to shut down your comments section then there is no way of eliminating comment spam completely, but using one or more of the methods above will help you reduce the amount you will receive by some considerable margin.
Have you found another way of stopping comment spam? Why not let us know about it in the comments section below.