What to Do About Spam Comments
For anybody who manages their own website, comment sections are both a blessing and a curse. While comments are a great way to connect with readers and continue conversations that you started in a blog post, they can get out of hand and cause more trouble than they’re worth. This is especially true when you have to deal with spam comments. Not only can these troublesome posts leave a bad taste in the mouths of your readers, but they often include links that can hurt your ranking with Google.
You might think there is little to do about spam comments short of disabling your comment section altogether. After all, you can’t police the Internet and decide what people can say on your blog, right? Well, the good news is that there are ways of managing spam comments on your website that don’t involve stopping all conversation. It does take some diligence, but it is possible with the right tools and techniques.
The first step of managing spam comments is being able to recognize them in the first place. For the purpose of comment sections, spam is any content that is not genuine and has some kind of ulterior motive behind it. A spam comment has almost nothing to do with the content of the site, adds nothing to the conversation, and often contains a link back to the so-called commenter’s site.
Fortunately, spam comments are pretty easy to spot. Look for comments that quickly go off-topic, contain suspicious links, or that are loaded with keywords. The latter sign isn’t as common as it once was, but you might still find the occasional keyword-stuffed comment. You can also often identify spam by looking at a commenter’s username. If it is a mess of letters and numbers that don’t seem to mean anything, chances are good that it’s a dummy profile generated by a bot.
Once you’ve determined that some of your comments are spam, you need to take care of them as quickly as possible. If you have a smaller site with few comments, you can monitor your comments section and delete any spam you come across. You should be checking your comments about once a week just to make sure that everything that is posted is genuine. If monitoring your own comment section is too much for you, consider installing a spam filter such as Akismet. Spam filters won’t block all spam from getting through, but it will catch most of it. You will still want to check your comments every so often to catch the odd bit of spam that does make it through, but that’s better than having to wade through hundreds of illegitimate posts. You also have the option of working with a website management firm that will prevent and handle any type of spam that comes to your site.
Another great way to manage spam is to install a CAPTCHA in your comments section. A CAPTCHA forces users to enter a code or answer a question before their comments can be posted. This can only be done by a real person, so it will stop any bots from flooding your website with spam.
Finally, the one surefire way to stop all spam is to disable your comments section altogether. This may seem like a “scorched earth” solution, but it might not be a bad idea if you have a site that doesn’t benefit from having a comments section. Besides, you won’t have to worry about monitoring your comments if there is nothing to monitor.