Blog comment spam can be really annoying and unnecessariy time consuming if you don’t set up ways to manage it early on.
I remember when I first started blogging several years ago, I’d get all excited when I got an email saying I had a new comment to approve.
The excitement would turn to disappointment (and annoyance) when I realized that it was just another spammy comment, with links to fake Louis Vuitton handbags, Viagra, or Nike shoes. (Why does 99% of spam seem to be for the same 3 things?)
In this post, I’m going to show you how to delete blog comment spam in seconds, and how to set it up so you don’t have to worry about it again.
Why do people leave spam comments on blogs?
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know enough to understand why people would leave these spammy comments on my blog posts.
Once I began to learn more about SEO, I realized what was happening.
It’s not that these spammers think that by leaving a comment, someone will actually click on their links and buy something from their equally spammy and terribly designed websites. No, the reason mostly has to do with SEO.
The comments are generated by automated ‘bot’ software. The motive is to get tons of links back to a website in order to improve their search engine rank.
I’d venture to say that once they get their sites up to show a certain amount of backlinks, they try to sell the site to the highest bidder.
While putting links in a comment on someone’s blog doesn’t carry nearly as much weight as if someone were to flat out link to them from their site, it can give them a trickle. And a lot of trickles can make a puddle. And a lot of puddles can make a river. And… well, you get the idea.
That’s why they comment so much.
Why spam comments are bad for your blog
Besides the obvious annoyance factor, these comments are bad for your blog for a couple of reasons:
Reason 1: Blog comment spam can slow your site down
Sadly, even if you disable your comments or move the spam comments to your trash, they still take up room in your database, which will slow down your site.
Reason 2: It can hurt your SEO
Even though these sites may get a temporary boost from Google with their artificial tactics, the Google algorithms are great, and are constantly improving, so they will find out.
Google wants to boost sites that provide value to their readers. If your site is littered with these spammy links in your comments, it will dilute your perceived value in Google’s eyes.
Think of it like if you were to hang out with the wrong crowd. Even if you’re not doing anything bad, there’s guilt by association. Same idea.
Reason 3: They are a complete time-suck
When I first started blogging, I manually approved (or rejected) blog comments. I later realized that if I didn’t approve a comment, it went to my Trash folder, which I never had emptied.
I had thousands of comments sitting in my trash folder, and I’m too OCD to leave them in there. I would go in to delete them — manually. That was a huge waste of productive time — time that could better be spent on my blog or my business.
How to block blog comment spam
Here’s how you can reduce comment spam on your site.
Step 1: Moderate your comments
The first thing you want to do to prevent blog comment spam is to make sure your comments are moderated. Meaning, don’t have them set to automatically approve.
You can do this in WordPress by going to:
Dashboard → Settings → Discussion
Scroll down and you’ll see the following options:
You can choose to manually approve comments (like I did for so long), or you can select the option I have checked above, where you’d have to approve all first time comments from someone, and their future comments won’t need additional approval.
You can also set it to hold a comment that contains a specified # of links in the queue as well. Since most comments with more than 2 links in them tend to be spam, this is an easy way to have them bypass your moderation.
One rarely-used feature in WordPress is the “Comment Blacklist” field, also on the same discussion settings page as the above.
With comment blacklisting, you can enter specific words, names, IP addresses, or other things for WordPress to look out for. If it sees any of these words or IP addresses in a comment, the comment will automatically be sent to the trash.
Step 2: Install an anti-spam plugin to block all future spam comments
There are lots of anti-spam plugins that can block blog comment spam. There are a few things you want to look for when you’re looking for a good anti-spam plugin. The three features I recommend are:
1: Make it effortless
First, you want it to be AS EASY AS POSSIBLE for a legit commenter to leave a comment. You do not want your reader to have to jump through hoops, register for this or that, put in an effing captcha, or, god forbid, do MATH — just so they can leave a comment. Seriously.
They should be able to type a comment, hit “submit,” and that’s it. Any more steps than that, and *poof* — they’re gone.
2: Block registration spam
This prevents bots from trying to register as a site user which, if successful, allows them to post all the spam comments they want based on the default WP settings. It’s a good idea to change your settings, but it’s also a good idea to get a plugin that prevents them from being able to do this in the first place.
3: Pre-database filtering
As I mentioned above, spam comments can quickly take up space in your WordPress database, which could slow down your server response time.
You want an anti-spam plugin that filters the spam before it hits your database, so you don’t have to worry about the maintenance of cleaning up those files which bog your site down. The drawback is that there’s a chance a legitimate comment may get the axe, but this should be rare with a decent plugin.
My recommended anti-spam plugins
WP Spamshield: My favorite free plugin for blocking comment spam is WP-Spamshield. Just install WP-Spamshield and you’re good to go. It has all of the features I recommended above, and it’s totally free. It has blocked literally thousands of spam comments on my blogs.
Akismet: One popular plugin for blocking spam is Akismet. This plugin comes pre-installed on many WordPress installations, and is a great plugin to use, but it’s only free for personal use. If you’re using it on a business or commercial site (and since you guys are dropping business bombs all over the internet), then you’d need to upgrade to the paid version.
Akismet’s annual business pricing is low, but you can get other plugins for free that will suit your blog or website just fine. Once you start getting a ton of traffic, if blog comment spam is still a major issue, you can upgrade to a paid anti-spam software.
Some other free anti-spam plugins include:
Now, chances are if you’re installing the plugin, you have some blog comment spam sitting in your trash that you need to get rid of (unless you just installed it at the very beginning of your WordPress site setup).
For example, I had over 640 pieces of comment spam on one of my sites when I installed the plugin. So sure, future spammy comments will be blocked, but what was I going to do with the 640 comments sitting in my comment trash? I certainly wasn’t going to delete them all individually.
And even if you check the “select all” feature and delete, it only takes care of the comments on that particular page of comments. If you have 640 comments like I did, you have to do that about 30+ times. I don’t know about y’all, but ain’t nobody got no time for that.
How to delete blog comment spam with one click
Luckily, there’s a free plugin called WP-Optimize that will allow you to delete all of the comment spam in your trash at once. Hallelujah!
It only takes just a few seconds and it also cleans up other things in your database, too, which is good for site speed and load times.