If you run a blog, then you may have chosen to allow comments on your website. This can be a good move for certain sites because it promotes engagement, encourages feedback, and helps you establish authority.
But hackers and bots often leave spam comments in order to link visitors back to their own websites. Their goal? Higher site rankings and an increase in traffic — for the spammers, of course.
Racking up lots of comments seems like a positive, but too much spam can decrease search engine rankings, expose your visitors to viruses and scams, and make it look like you don’t care for your website. And this is, well, bad for business.
The thing with comment spam is that not all of it is created equal. Most of the time, it looks shady. But, sometimes, it actually looks legitimate. So how do you spot it on your blog?
Tell-tale signs of spam comments
1. They seem irrelevant or inappropriate
These are usually pretty easy to single out. Let’s say that you have a health and wellness blog. Your comments should probably discuss clean eating, diet and exercise, how a visitor’s health has benefited from your offerings or content, etc.
These types of comments are great. Keep them, enjoy them, and, by all means, respond to them. But what if someone leaves a comment about, say, cheap sunglasses or investment opportunities? These have nothing to do with health and wellness, and guess what? They’re probably spam.
2. The commenter’s name sounds fake
Sometimes a comment might seem authentic, but the name can tip you off to spam. If you have a comment that you’re not quite sure about, check the name on the post. If the actual name sounds fake or spammy, like “cheap designer handbags,” or “low-interest loans”, it likely is spam.
3. The email address doesn’t look legitimate
In some cases, the commenter’s name might actually look real, but the problem? It doesn’t match the email address.
If someone called Barbara comments on your post, but email@example.com is her email address, then she probably doesn’t exist. To stop these shifty “Barabaras” from commenting, you can manually set up your own email blocklist by going to Settings → Discussion → Comment Moderation.
4. They’re poorly written
There are various reasons why people use poor grammar and spelling in their comments. Sometimes, they just make mistakes, but it’s often much more strategic.
Some do this to sneak past filters that search for common spam words. Others just want to appear more human. In any event, you should always be leery of comments with lots of grammatical errors.
5. The website looks untrustworthy
Does the comment include a link to another website? If it’s an embedded link, hover your cursor over it to view the URL without clicking. If it looks shady, don’t open it.
Additionally, there are various services you can use to check links. If the commenter shortened a link using a platform like Bitly, try a link expansion service to reveal the URL. Once again, if it looks fishy, don’t open it.
6. They contain lots of blocklisted words, phrases, or keywords
If you notice an excessive amount of inappropriate words or phrases in a comment, or if it’s packed with keywords, then it’s probably — you guessed it — spam.
Words in a comment that seem unnatural or offensive are probably not legit. There’s rarely, if ever, a reason for a genuine user to use rude phrases or profanity.
7. They’re generic
No doubt, you’ve seen these types of comments before. You know, the ones that could be about any website? They may not be offensive, per se, but they’re definitely suspect. We’re talking about comments that say things like, “Great post,” “Keep up the good work,” or “Awesome blog; I have scoured the web and found yours to be the most helpful.”
If you’re not sure about the authenticity of a comment, try Googling the phrase. If it comes up multiple times in a search, that’s a good indication that it’s spam.
Focus on your business, not your spam
Like it or not, comment spam is just part of the game when you run a website. Luckily, there are ways to take matters into your own hands before your comments section is completely hijacked. For starters, WordPress lets you manually manage your comments, so you can decide what to approve and what to delete before they go public.
Manually approving — or disapproving — comments is a sound tactic, but it still takes time. To save precious minutes, hours, or even days, Jetpack Anti-spam clears spam from comments and forms automatically. Powered by Akismet, it comes out ahead of comparable WordPress anti-spam solutions. It’s super affordable and beats spammers at their own game by blocking suspicious comments before they hit your site. You can sit back, relax, and enjoy all that well-deserved, spam-free praise coming your way.