I confess I HATE spam!
It’s an annoying, time consuming blight on the digital world.
And this week, I spent several hours cleaning over 6,000 spam comments out of a client’s website. Yes, 6 THOUSAND!
The client’s website was built on the WordPress platform, but not by me. I love WordPress as a website platform. It’s easy to create with, it’s easy for the client to update, and it’s easy to allow visitors to comment. But allowing comments opens up your website not just to the people whom you WANT to comment, but to the entire World Wide Web. And this includes spammers.
You might be tempted to think that spam is inevitable and therefore not worth fighting, but you’d be wrong. Allowing spam comments to remain on your blog actually hurts your business:
1. You lose valuable comments.
Real people won’t leave comments when they see the comment area full of spam. And those comments you lose are gone to you forever.
2. Your site’s good name is then shared with the spam sites.
When someone leaves a comment, they can include their website URL. When they do, it creates a link from your website back to theirs. And search engines rank sites based in part on the reputation of the sites that link to it. So when you allow spam comments to remain on your site, you allow that spammer to share in your site’s good name.
3. You risk your site being de-listed by the search engines.
Search engines take a dim view of spammers and de-list their sites as soon as they are discovered. They also assume that no self-respecting website owner would allow their site to be taken over by spammers. So, the thinking goes, if you allow spam comments to proliferate unchecked on your site, then you must be a spammer as well. Its guilt by association and it can get your site de-listed. And once de-listed, there isn’t anything you can do to get it back. You’ll have to start over from scratch.
So, what can you do to control spam comments? You have a couple of options:
- Moderate all comments. You will have to personally read and approve every comment made on your site. This can be very time consuming if you receive a lot of comments.
- Install a spam catcher. Most spam comments are not made by real people, but by automated programs called spam bots. By installing a small program that asks your human visitors to prove they are human, you can catch up to 99% of the spam. There are a few people out there hired to post these kinds of comments; these will still get through. The two most popular of these spam catchers are Akismet and Growmap Anti Spam Plugin for WordPress (here are some of my favorite free plugins for WordPress).
Don’t let the existence of comment spam keep you from allowing comments on your site. The two-way conversation that comments allow you to have with your visitors is truly worth it. Just make sure you use one of the available anti-spam measures on your website (and keep it up to date) and you won’t have to work hard to keep control of your comments.
Oh, and after I cleaned up my client’s comments, I installed the Growmap Anti-Spam Plugin for her. Happily, she hasn’t had one single spam comment since.
Please share your comments about spam and what you do do control it in the comments below.