In this series, Lee looks at a range of WordPress tools that can add value to both the development process and client interactions. For each episode, Lee will define a problem, discuss his agency’s solution, and share a use case.
Lee Matthew Jackson
Hundreds of SPAM comments building up for review, getting in the way of real engagement.
CleanTalk Anti-Spam plugin that automatically filters through comments.
- Trailblazer FM uses it as we are content-heavy and are a prime target for bots.
- Any WordPress website with comments activated.
WordPress tools to try before you die.Sorry about that. Time for the next tool.
Welcome to another episode of our mini series for the month of October leading up to the spooky season of Halloween. As we look at WordPress tools to try before you die to catch the other episodes, check out the link in the show notes to view all the episodes of this series. The way we structure each episode is to highlight what the problem is that we have then to look at the solution, the WordPress tool that helps us solve that problem, and then also to share one or two use cases. Today our problem is receiving thousands upon thousands of spam comments and therefore missing real engagement. I don’t know how it happens, but within days of publishing any WordPress site, it’ll be quite common on the blog to see the number of spam comments increase.
I often feel that anxiety when I open up a client’s WordPress dashboard and on the left hand side I can see that red notification hovering above the comment section saying that there are 300 new comments to review. This also gives a really bad impression to the client because they are wondering well, why and how is their website becoming a target to all of these third party bots? Why haven’t we done something to protect their website? So being able to nip that in the bud really helps with client perceptions. Of course, what’s worse is when you have countless comments to go through, you might actually be missing the real engagement.
I’ve seen clients essentially select all and mark all as spam or just trash all of them. Or I’ve seen some clients just simply leave it be and miss all of those wonderful nuggets of feedback that their readers are giving them. The solution we’ve implemented is antispam by CleanTalk. This is a freely available plugin in the WordPress codex, but they do connect with a cloud service which will analyse the comments. So there is a low fee, but the fee is miniscule in return for the amount of time that you will save.
The way it works is essentially a comment will come in, it is sent through to the CleanTalk cloud service it’s analysed and then a scoring is returned back to WordPress and a relevant action will take place. There are also a whole load of different settings to help mitigate and block spam from even getting into your WordPress website. These settings allow you to cover things beyond just the comments, which would include registration forms, contact forms and custom contact forms. There is even support for the WooCommerce checkout, although I’ve never actually used that aspect of the plugin. Perhaps my favourite thing to do with the plugin is to check out the statistics.
And right now, as of this week, I can see that 40 spam messages were automatically blocked. And also using the Spam firewall option, 689 bad bots were blocked. So I’m very grateful for that. That helps free up some traffic as well for Trailblazer FM, so that’s pretty darn impressive. A couple of other honourable mention solutions would include Akismet spam protection, there’ll be a link in the show notes, this is by Automatic and the other option is actually to use the tools that are within WordPress, which would be to jump into the WordPress dashboard, go to Settings and discussions, then go ahead and limit the number of links that you allow in a comment.
You can also create a list of blacklisted words. You can restrict comments if you wish to just register people, although that’s something we don’t really often do for client websites because we don’t also want tonnes of spam registrations as well. And finally, if you have a website where you don’t really need people engaging and commenting on a post that is super older, then you can automatically close comments. After a set number of days you’ll find that again in the discussion settings. For us, we like the anti spam plugin by CleanTalk because it gives us the freedom and flexibility to have comments, but also saves us a whole tonne of time going through things, working out what is or what is not spam.
And now for the use cases. Essentially, any WordPress website that has posts and comments activated, we are using it on Trailblazer FM. We put out a post at minimum once a week for the podcast, but we also have to blog and video posts, et cetera. So we are a prime target for countless bots trying to send traffic our way and trying to put fake comments and links to their wares on all of our posts. Folks, you’ve heard the problem, you’ve heard our solution and the use cases that we have for it.
Now it is your turn. Check out these show notes for a link to this episode and come and join us in the comments. Let us know, do you agree? What solution would you have used? What settings would you put in the discussion area of WordPress?
Would love to know. Also, did you know that you can tell me your opinion in person by coming over to agencytransformation.live and attending our conference this year on the 10th and 11th of November here in the UK, we’re getting WordPress agencies together from all around the world. We are going to be learning from amazing speakers on day one and then we are going to have an intensive mastermind together on day two, where we will get the combined brain power of the room to help us solve problems and to create an action plan that will help us grow our businesses. So folks, if we don’t you in the comments, if we don’t see you in the event, why don’t we see you in the next episode.