November 23, 2021

Reducing Spam in WordPress: 7 Effective Tips to Stop Unwanted Messages

Spam accounts for about 85% of the world’s email traffic. It’s a big issue for WordPress users as well. According to recent statistics from Akismet, about 5.4 billion spam messages are sent on the platform monthly.

If you’re looking into reducing spam in WordPress, you’ll need to understand how to manipulate the site to meet your needs. Read on to learn some tried-and-true ways that WordPress users have found to eliminate unnecessary messages and popups.

1. Use ReCAPTCHA or Custom CAPTCHA

ReCAPTCHA is part of a contact form that forces users to prove that they’re human. They’ll need to answer a simple question to prove that they aren’t a bot. One of the most common reCAPTCHA methods is to show a grid of images and ask users to select all images that have an specific item in them.

example of recaptcha

These tools are easy for users to understand and only take a few seconds. ReCAPTCHA v3 is the most commonly used version for WordPress sites.

However, you can also use a custom CAPTCHA for your site. Instead of an image grid, this lets you ask visitors a custom question. This question may be as simple as typing a word that you display on the screen.

2. Consider Invisible CAPTCHA

If you don’t like the idea of users needing to jump through even the easiest hoops to contact you, that’s understandable. User-friendliness is, after all, important. Invisible CAPTCHA- sometimes called no CAPTCHA- lets the site confirm that users are human on its own.

If the site thinks that someone submitting the form is human (based on their trends, behavior, and information gleaned through cookies), it will immediately go through, However, if it suspects that the user is a bot, they then will need to complete a reCAPTCHA form. Not everyone does.

3. Install Anti-Spam Plugins

One of the most appealing things about WordPress is its diverse array of plugins and extensions. Because there are thousands of plugins out there, it makes sense that some are dedicated to using spam.

Akismet is one of the most common and most effective. Most WordPress sites have it installed when the page is built, but you can also install it manually.

If you haven’t heard of this filtering service, it catches blog comment and pingback spam using preinstalled professional algorithms. It will note when multiple websites of a single type are reported as spam and learn that similar sites should be filtered.

akismet antispam

This smart filtration algorithm means that the plugin will become even more effective over time. It can catch spam in multiple areas of your website including comments forums, contact forms, and direct messages.

Other plugins like CleanTalk also are good alternatives, but make sure that you don’t slow your site down with too many plugins.

4. Use the Honeypot Method

The Honeypot protection method adds a hidden field to the contact form or forum. Spambots always fill out every input field of a form. This is a consistent behavior that you’re looking to exploit.

You create a fake hidden field and see whether the user fills it out. Human users cannot see this hidden field and therefore don’t have the option to fill it out. If the honeypot field doesn’t have input, the submission is from a human and will go through.

However, if it does have a value, that proves it was filled out by a spambot. This means that it will be automatically filtered off of the WordPress site.

5. Moderate Website Comments

If your website has a forum or comments section, this is another area that will draw in a lot of bots and spam. You can eliminate these spam messages by moderating the comments. This means that you will need to review the comments before they appear on your website.  By logging into your WordPress website, you can see an overview of all comments submitted and manually mark the spam ones for deletion.

This is generally accurate but some spam might slip through the cracks unless you want to manually approve every comment. Many business owners find that the ‘comment author must have a previously approved comment’ is the best method. This means that you only will need to approve first-time commenters for accuracy.

6. Disable Comments Altogether

Some people decide that having a comments section is more trouble than it’s worth. You can limit spam on your site by disabling it. This eliminates all comments in addition to the spam, though, so make sure that you don’t care too much about the forum.

You can eliminate the comments by going to Settings > Discussion. Uncheck the button that lets people submit comments on new posts.

disable new comments in wordpress

7. Find the Right Managed WordPress Provider

All of these methods for eliminating spam are excellent, but you could get rid of it more quickly and efficiently with the right managed WordPress services. Experienced professionals can help to troubleshoot your website with their professional tools and understanding of the platform.

WordPress service providers know all of the hacks for eliminating spam and can save you time with research and execution. This lets you have more time for marketing, innovation, and core product development.

Beyond Reducing Spam in WordPress

While it’s challenging to keep a website manageable in a world of junk mail and popups, reducing spam in WordPress is easier than it sounds. Now that you know how to keep your site clean of any unwanted messages, it’s time to get started.

We’re committed to helping you set up, perform updates on, ensure the security of, and constantly upgrade your personal or professional website. Contact our experts with any remaining questions that you have about optimizing your WordPress site today.

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