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Lesson 13 – Part 1 – Using the Akismet Anti-spam Plugin

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Good evening everyone and welcome to Lesson 13 of How to Build a Professional Website Using WordPress and Thesis. This is our second to last lesson and we will be completing this whole series on Thursday of this week. Today, we’re going to start off talking about comment spam and we’ll figure out what to do about it.

What is a Comment Spam?

Comment spam is the ugly side of link building and if you see these places that are selling quality links, what many of them are doing is creating robots to search sites that have places to comment and they automatically place links in the form of comments on those sites.

Comment spam is really a scurge of the industry and it can cause you a great deal of problems. I think one of the most significant problems that you can face if you allow comment spam to accumulate on your site is that WordPress will think of your site as a site for spammers and it will reduce the value of your site in google’s eyes.

You need to make sure that you do what you can to prevent comment spam both from showing up on your site and then deal with comment spam when it comes to your site. I want to show you some examples of comment spam, I have 2,357 pieces of comment spam in my spam box for the last 30 days, it’s a lot.

How to Deal With and Prevent Comment Spam on Your Site

This kind of stuff is easily identified as spam because it’s just nonsense to call them links and what they’re hoping for is that somebody isn’t minding the store so that all this comment garbage can show up. The other kind of thing that shows up as comment spam is something like this, “You got a very good website, Gladiolus I noticed it through yahoo” and all of a sudden it starts to degenerate into poorly constructed English.

Something that you’ll see fairly often is somebody complimenting you or saying something nice about your post and you’ll be flattered at first thinking it was a nice comment on something you had to say. Unless it’s really an attempt to engage you, the chances are, that kind of thing is comment spam especially if there’s a link in it either to some company or things like you can see hostgator coupon code and stuff like that in here. You have to figure out how to deal with it.

Choose the Correct Settings

One of the things you can do to prevent it is to follow what I’ve suggested in terms of setting up your site. We’ll take a quick look at that. Look at this site here we’re building. In settings and discussion, I taught several lessons ago that what you should do is have “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”.

Probably for a small business website where comments aren’t playing a very big role or if it is a blog, the thing to do would be to select, “An administrator must always approve the comment”. That way, comments never accidentally make their way into your site, they just get stored in the dashboard.

Require Comments to be Approved Before Being Posted

Then we talked about what you can do for comment moderation and comment blacklisting. There are certainly settings that you can make and I encourage you to make sure your settings are correct. I talk about these probably either in Lesson 3 or 4 of the Start Building Your Website Here Series where we talked about the appropriate settings for this. The first defense actually is making sure that you require all comments to be approved before they get posted.

I saw a site this week that requires every comment to be held for moderation but also solicits comments. They want people to comment on their site, they have literally thousands of comments and if they check their comment lists every few days, they have hundreds of spam comments to sort through in order to try and find legitimate comments that they actually want on their site.

The net result of that is that they never actually end up with any real comments on their site because it’s too much work to sort through the garbage in order to get to the decent comment.

Advantages of Using Akismet

That’s why I recommend “Akismet”. It is a plugin that comes automatically inside of a WordPress installation. If you’re not running a small business website or commercial website, if you’re just running a personal blog or something like that, use of Akismet is free. However, for commercial ventures and for small businesses, there is a monthly fee for Akismet.

If you can imagine how much work we would have to go through to sort through this much spam to try and find the comments that we may actually wanted to keep, it would be a huge and a time consuming task. It’s well worth a little money every month in order to make sure that if you’re using comments, you actually get them.

I’ve got 544 comments that I’ve actually approved over the last two years but 2,357 that Akismet stuck in my spam box in this last 30 days. That’s really this next line of defense is to just pay 5 bucks a month and get Akismet for your site and use that to automatically move spam comments into the spam box without you having to review them or sort through them.

Signing Up to Get Akismet

We’re going to do that right now with our site and I am going to demonstrate this. We want to go to akismet.com and we’re going to sign up for 5 bucks a month. The critical thing about this is getting the code. I have a number of people who ask me specifically how to do this that’s why we’re actually walking through it.

We’re going to get an email here soon that gives us our API key. We did get our Akismet registration information. I have this form right here and this is my API key so I’m going to copy that. Under plugins and under Akismet configuration, this is where we place that here and then we update our options. This will show us what’s going on with Akismet, that the Akismet server is working and that our Akismet API key has been approved.

Akismet is now going to prevent all spam from making its way through this contact form and through any comments that we have available in the blog.

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