February 8, 2014
Finding that your WP site has been inundated with spam comments can be frustrating. Beat the bots and improve your Google ranking with these tips.
There is a common problem that occurs on WordPress (WP) sites that frustrates many of users — spam comments. Those who set up a WP site soon find their traffic begins to soar. However, that joy can rather quickly turn to extreme aggravation once the site operator learns that a huge chunk of that traffic is coming from spam bots.
Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water!
There is a very good reason why a large number of folks use WordPress. First of all, the platform is standalone, free to use, and installs on a web host with a single click which are all attractive features. Navigating is also extremely user-friendly with minimal skills being required. In addition, there are, literally, thousands of free plug-ins available that make practically any desired task easy to perform.
Although many people make the decision to leave WP once they find out their sites have been inundated with spam comments, there is no need to do so. Of course, it is essential to stop spam bots and eliminate all that false traffic that advertises worthless site links, but there are ways to do that without ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water.’
Spam Comments Explained
If you are considering starting a website using the WordPress platform, or are a new user that hasn’t yet figured out what spam comments are, then it would be beneficial to learn about this before you experience problems. Spam comments have a similar goal as email spam, except that website spam has two targets. The first, which is the same as email spam, is to get people to click website links contained within them that builds their site’s traffic and, thus, their Google ranking.
Comment spam goes a step further, however, and uses the links they post on your site to build their ranking status. To be successful at this, dozens or even hundreds of comments need to be placed on your site with the desired web link. Google search engine crawlers see these as popular resource links to the other website and raise that site’s ranking. However, the downside is that Google also considers such link harvesting methods as ‘Black Hat’ and will penalize your website with a lower ranking for containing spam links.
Stop Spam Comments
It would be ideal if WordPress engineers would make it easy to stop spam comment bots. Although many are pushing for them to do that, it remains mostly the responsibility of the site operator to stop such spam links themselves. Luckily, there are several ways of stopping spam comment bots like bot trap that keeps them away from plaguing your site.
Available WordPress Comment Options
One method for stopping comment spam is to utilize available options that are already built in to the WP platform and are found on your dashboard under ‘Settings’ and then ‘Discussions.’ Such options must be manually initiated and some time and effort are required. However, the results will significantly reduce spam traffic to your website.
First of all, if you do not yet have a lot of comments, then you can monitor them manually and identify spam by either selecting ‘Hold a comment in queue if it contains  or more links’ or ‘When a comment contains any of these words.’ These options store applicable comments for your review before they are published to your site.
You can also use a couple of other options to assist with eliminating spam comments. The first is ‘An administrator must always approve the comment’ which prevents publication of comments before you review them, and ‘Comment author must have a previously approved comment’ which helps cut down on manual reviews by allowing comments from previously approved authors.
You also have the option of physically placing spam web addresses, user names, email addresses, etc., in a comment blacklist box. However, new spam bots are continuously being created and often come in barrages, so these manual options may become quite time-consuming rather rapidly.
Those who have higher levels of comment traffic on their websites can go a more efficient route and utilize available plug-ins designed to detect, deter, and eliminate various types of spam. The problem here lies in selecting the right ones, since more than 600 plug-in results appear for a WordPress ‘spam’ search.
Several good ones to consider are Akismet, which identifies spam and prevents it from going live until reviewed. Conditional CAPTCHA is also a good plug-in that works well in conjunction with Akismet. Any entries thought to be spam are held by Akismet and the operator can use Conditional CAPTCHA to either sort through them, individually, or delete groupings.
Although it is essential to stop spam bots, there is no need to stop using the beneficial WordPress platform. Simply do some research and take the appropriate steps on your own.
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