Are spammers targeting your website's comment section?

One of the downsides of owning a website is the unwelcome traffic it can attract. Hopefully most of the visitors to your site are the people you want to visit, but if you’re attracting spammers or hackers, their presence can add a lot of extra work to keep your site well-maintained. If you’ve noticed your site’s comment section attracts spammers, here are some possible reasons why and some ideas to implement to stop the problem.

Why are spammers targeting your site?

One of the easiest targets for spam on your website is your comment section. Comments are an easy target for spammers for a few reasons:

  • The form exists across many posts and pages of many sites, making it fairly easy for spammers to create a bot to post spam comments.
  • Comment sections, by default, have a URL field, so spammers can drop a link to a website.
  • Oftentimes, spammers use comment section URL fields to try to build SEO ranking. This technique doesn’t really work anymore, but many spammers do it anyway.

What can you do to resolve your spam problem?

With the reasons above in mind, here are a few possible solutions for your site:

  • Remove the URL field from your comments. Spammers are relying on a URL field to post spammy links, so removing the URL field takes away their incentive to post spam comments. You can either use a plugin like Remove Fields or Remove Comment Website/URL Box to remove the URL field, or add the following code to your theme’s functions.php file:
    add_filter('comment_form_default_fields', 'website_remove');
    function website_remove($fields)
    return $fields;
  • Use a spam filtering plugin like Akismet to block spam comments. If removing the URL field from your comments doesn’t stop the spam, use a spam filtering plugin like Akismet to filter spam comments. Learn more about Akismet in our 3 WordPress plugins you should install on your website article.
  • Switch commenting systems. The default WordPress commenting system and Disqus are both prime targets for spam. If removing the URL field from your comments and installing Akismet still haven’t solved the problem, you can switch to a different commenting system entirely. We use Facebook comments on our site for a few different reasons, but one of them is it’s much more difficult for spammers to target. We’ve provided a comparison between three different commenting systems to help you decide which one is right for you.
  • Add a CAPTCHA to your comment form. Regardless of which commenting system you use, a CAPTCHA is another way you can try to prevent spam in your comments. A free Google Captcha plugin works with the default WordPress commenting system, and they offer a paid version of the plugin that adds support for additional areas of your site, like WooCommerce login pages.
  • Turn off comments altogether. If none of these other options help, you can always disable comments on your website entirely. To do this, go to Settings → Discussion in your WordPress Dashboard and uncheck the box next to “Allow people to post comments on new articles.”

Hopefully, a few simple changes can help you dramatically reduce the amount of spam you see in your comment section. What works for you? Let us know in our comment section below!