Nobody likes spam. Well, except for the spammers.
But spam plagues every single website, no matter its size. It shows up in comments, contact form submissions, and user registrations. And not only is it annoying and time-consuming to deal with, it can be damaging for your reputation and your website.
So how do you prevent it? Let’s take a closer look at spam, learn why a plugin is your best solution, and compare the best anti-spam plugins for WordPress.
What is spam and why does it matter?
In its simplest form, spam is unwanted commercial communication. Typically, for you as a website owner, spam looks like irrelevant, strange comments on posts, pages, products, or form submissions. Not only is it annoying, but it also makes you look unprofessional, negatively affects your search engine rankings, and can even direct site visitors and customers to malware and phishing sites. You want to prevent it as much as possible to protect both your reputation and your site visitors.
How can anti-spam plugins prevent spam?
You can, of course, manually moderate each comment and delete any and all spam. However, spammers can leave dozens — and sometimes hundreds — of spam comments each day on a single website. That can be very time-consuming and also leaves a lot of room for error. You have better things to spend your time on!
That’s why WordPress anti-spam plugins are so helpful and why we’ve covered the best WordPress anti-spam solutions in the industry. They automatically filter through each and every one of your comments (and sometimes form submissions) and delete spam for you. You don’t waste any time, but you know that this critical task is taken care of.
How do they do this? Well, spammers aren’t typically very clever. They leave valuable clues in their comments, such as misspellings, strange links, and sales pitches. Anti-spam plugins have a database of this information and use it to identify and get rid of spam without you having to lift a finger.
Important features of anti-spam plugins
There are a variety of anti-spam plugins out there. How do you know which one is the right fit for your website?
Here are some important features of anti-spam plugins:
1. Prevents both comment and contact form spam
Spam doesn’t just happen in the comment section of your site. Spambots can take advantage of contact forms and use them to send out spam emails to your email list or customers. Plus, tons of spam contact form submissions in your inbox every day is frustrating.
So, make sure that your anti-spam plugin protects both your comment forms and contact forms.
2. Integrates with the other tools you use
If you’re adding an anti-spam plugin to an existing WordPress site, it’s especially important that it works well with the plugins you already have installed. This might include contact form plugins (like Jetpack, Contact Form 7, or WPForms), forum plugins like bbPress, or eCommerce plugins like WooCommerce.
3. Has a powerful database of spam information and identifiers
In order to correctly identify spam, plugins need to have lots of information. They need to have observed spam on lots and lots of sites for a long time so they can identify common characteristics. After all, you want real comments to stick around, but the bad ones to disappear.
4. Doesn’t require a CAPTCHA or other form of validation
You’re probably familiar with CAPTCHAs — tools that make you check a box or select all the photos with stop signs to prove you’re not a robot. While they’re relatively easy to use, they’re just one extra step that someone has to take in order to reach out to you or engage with your content. And every single step makes it more likely that they’ll get frustrated or distracted and give up.
So, ideally, you’ll want to go with a solution that doesn’t require CAPTCHAs to make the user experience as seamless as possible.
5. Allows you to moderate alongside it
While a high-quality anti-spam plugin is extremely accurate, it’s not perfect. There may be times that it incorrectly identifies a valid comment as spam or misses a spam comment. So, if comments are extra valuable to your website, you may want to be able to override the decisions your anti-spam tool makes.
6. Doesn’t require you to do much work
At the same time, though, you shouldn’t have to put any effort into spam prevention. Once you set up the plugin, you should be able to sit back, relax, and know that spam is taken care of.
7. Is easy to set up
Installing and setting up the plugin should be super simple, even if you don’t have much tech experience.
8. Doesn’t weigh down your site
You don’t want a plugin that adds a lot of extra weight to your server, slowing things down. That’ll only make things more difficult for site visitors and hurt your SEO rankings. Make sure that the plugin you choose keeps things speedy. Typically, an anti-spam plugin does this by running all operations on its own server, rather than on your site.
The best anti-spam plugins for WordPress
Akismet is the anti-spam plugin created specifically for WordPress by the team behind WordPress.com. It’s blocked billions of spam comments to date and integrates seamlessly with top WordPress contact form plugins. It’s trusted and reliable, can be set up in minutes, and offers reasonably-priced plans for personal sites and businesses.
- Automatically filters spam
- Allows you to manually approve or delete comments
- Protects both comment forms and contact forms
- Integrates with contact form plugins like Jetpack, Gravity Forms, and Contact Form 7
- It’s cloud-based, so it runs operations on its own servers and doesn’t slow down your site.
- It has more than five million installations, so its spam database is large and thorough. This ensures that its spam filters are extremely accurate.
- It doesn’t require a CAPTCHA, which is great for your conversion rates.
- Free plans are only available for personal, non-commercial sites.
Ease of use:
Akismet is super easy to set up, requiring no server access or development experience. All you have to do is go to Plugins → Add New in your WordPress dashboard. Search for Akismet, then click Install Now → Activate. From there, simply choose the plan you’d like, set up an account, copy and paste your API key in Akismet settings, and you’re up and running!
- The Personal plan is for personal blogs and is free.
- The Pro plan includes 10K to 40K API calls/mo and starts at $8.33 per month.
- The Business plan includes 60K API calls/mo and is $41.67 per month.
- The Enterprise plan is for unlimited business sites and includes custom API limits. Contact us to get started.
Note that an API call is an individual request to Akismet servers. So each comment and form submission is one API call.
2. Antispam Bee
Antispam Bee is a straightforward, free anti-spam plugin available directly from the WordPress plugin library. It automatically blocks spam comments, pingbacks, and trackbacks.
- Automatically filters spam and deletes spam comments after a certain number of days
- Allows you to set spam rules to automatically block comments based on things like location and language
- It’s very simple and straightforward due to its basic functionality.
- It’s completely free for all users.
- It doesn’t require a CAPTCHA.
- It only protects comment forms, not contact forms or user registrations.
- It has basic functionality that may not provide what larger sites or stores need.
- It’s server-based, so can slow down your website.
Ease of use:
Antispam Bee is very easy to set up. Just install and activate the plugin from the WordPress dashboard — that’s it! If you want to customize settings, you can visit Settings → Antispam Bee.
Antispam Bee is free for all users.
Titan Antispam and Security is exactly what its name implies — a security and anti-spam plugin for WordPress. The anti-spam feature first checks for known spam comments. Then, it checks any remaining comments a second time using a smart system that’s constantly learning how to identify unwanted messages.
- Automatically prevents spam in comment and registration forms
- Checks existing comments and users for spam
- Includes additional security features that help protect your site, like a firewall and security scanner
- Offers detailed stats about spam prevention on your site
- It doesn’t require a CAPTCHA to block spam.
- It includes extra security features — like a firewall and malware scanner — all in one plugin.
- It just protects comment and registration forms, not contact forms.
- It’s unclear whether processes take place on your server or off-site.
Ease of use:
Titan Antispam is very easy to set up — just install and activate the plugin. Then, choose the settings you’d like to enable.
- The Free plan includes basic, automatic spam filtering and costs nothing.
- The Premium plan for one site adds 24/7 support and advanced protection for $55 per year.
- The Premium plan for three sites is $159 per year.
- The Premium plan for six sites is $319 per year.
WordPress Zero Spam is a free anti-spam plugin available in the WordPress plugin repository. It uses the power of AI combined with databases of known spam IPs to protect sites against malicious comments, registrations, and form submissions.
- Automatically blocks spam from comments, registration forms, some contact forms, and login pages
- Automatically and manually blocks malicious IP addresses
- Blocks offenders based on countries, regions, ZIP codes, and cities
- It doesn’t require the use of a CAPTCHA.
- It integrates with additional tools like MemberPress, Mailchimp, GiveWP, WPForms, and Contact Form 7.
- It can slow down your website — caching is recommended to prevent this.
Ease of use:
Setup of WordPress Zero Spam is simple and quick. Simply install and activate the plugin, then visit its settings page to configure functionality however you’d like.
WordPress Zero Spam is free for all users and doesn’t have any paid features.
CleanTalk Spam Protection is a premium tool that blocks spam from a variety of sources, including comments and contact forms. It’s a cloud-based service that uses an advanced database of information to validate comments.
- Automatically prevents spam in comments, orders, registrations, bookings, contact forms, and more
- Checks and filters existing comments for spam
- Checks the email address of spam submissions in real-time
- Blocks spam based on country, words used, language, and more
- Logs all spam comments and requests
- A CAPTCHA is not required.
- It’s cloud-based, so it won’t slow down your site.
- It wasn’t created specifically for WordPress and works with a variety of platforms. This may mean that it doesn’t integrate as seamlessly as other WordPress-specific tools.
Ease of use:
CleanTalk is also straightforward and simple. Install and activate the plugin, set up an account and get an access key, then test the setup using a dummy comment.
CleanTalk offers a free trial, then is $8 per year.
The reCaptcha plugin adds a CAPTCHA to login, registration, password recovery, comment, and contact forms. This requires site visitors to prove they’re not a robot before submitting the form.
- Works with registration, login, comment, and contact forms
- Allows you to hide the CAPTCHA for certain IP addresses
- It’s compatible with a variety of WordPress contact form plugins like Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, and WPForms (only with the Pro version)
- This plugin solely offers CAPTCHA functionality, which can complicate the form submission process and decrease conversions.
Ease of use:
reCaptcha is a bit harder to set up as it requires finding and creating API keys with Google. If you’re not familiar with this process, it can be confusing.
- The Free version includes all major functionality, but does not integrate with tools like WooCommerce and many contact form plugins. This version has no cost.
- The Annual version is $20.99 per year and includes additional integrations.
- The Lifetime version is $211 one-time payment.
|Akismet||Antispam Bee||Titan Antispam and Security||WordPress Zero Spam||CleanTalk Spam Protection||reCaptcha by BestWebSoft|
|Prevents comment spam||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Prevents contact form spam||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Prevents user registration spam||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Integrations with contact form plugins||Jetpack, Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, and more||None||None||Contact Form 7, WPForms, and more||WPForms, Jetpack, Contact Form 7, and more||Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, and more|
|Price||Free to $208/mo (for enterprise users)||Free||Free to $319/yr||Free||Free trial, then $8/yr||Free to $211 one time|
Choosing the best anti-spam plugin for WordPress
While there are several different high-quality options to choose from, it’s important that you consider the functionality and pricing that best fits your unique scenario.
For most WordPress sites, Akismet is the best WordPress anti-spam solution. It was built by the same people behind WordPress.com, so it has the most extensive spam database and integrates seamlessly with major form plugins. And since it’s cloud-based, it won’t slow down your website like many of the other tools on this list. Plus, it’s completely free for personal sites and offers very affordable paid tiers for businesses. That’s exactly why it already has more than five million installations!
However, if you need a completely free tool, you might want to consider Antispam Bee. And if you’re looking specifically for a CAPTCHA, the reCaptcha by BestWebSoft plugin is a great solution.
FAQs about spam
How do spam bots work?
Spam bots are automated tools used to leave spam comments on posts, products, and more. They’re programmed to fill out any required fields and can even be taught to look like legitimate users. Then, they search the web for sites that meet certain requirements and leave as many spam comments as they can.
How can I identify a spam comment?
Here are some typical qualities of spam comments:
- They’re generic. They can apply to any site or any piece of content. E.G. “Nice post!”
- They’re irrelevant. They often have nothing to do with the post they’re on.
- They have fake names. The name might be something like “cheap designer handbags” rather than a real person’s name.
- They’re poorly written. They may contain a lot of grammatical and spelling errors or be a jumble of words.
- They link to suspicious websites. You can hover over any embedded links to view the URL without clicking on it.
- They contain inappropriate words. This may include profanity or offensive language.
What default WordPress settings can help with spam?
There are a variety of WordPress settings that help prevent spam. If you take all of the steps below, you’ll maximize spam prevention. However, not all of these settings will be right for every website.
Start by going to Settings → Discussion in your WordPress dashboard. Then:
- Check the box next to “Comment author must fill out name and email”
- Check the box next to “Users must be registered and logged in to comment”
- Check the box next to “Comment must be manually approved”
- Under “Comment moderation”, add “1” to the box in the sentence “Hold a comment in the queue if it contains ___ or more links”
Then, if you start to see common phrases, URLS, emails, etc. in your spam comments, add them to the box under “Comment moderation”. This will block any comments that include those characteristics.
Can I manually moderate spam in WordPress?
Yes, absolutely. By default, WordPress allows you to go through each comment and decide to mark it as spam or approve it. However, it can take a lot of time to go through comments on a daily or weekly basis — time better spent invested in your blog or business!
Should I enable comments on my site?
This completely depends on your site and goals. In many cases, comments can be an excellent way to answer questions, encourage discussion, and engage with your site visitors. They can even be used to create a community around your brand.
However, this may not be right for every website. If you do choose to disable comments, you can do so in your WordPress Discussion settings.
What is the goal of spammers?
Here are some reasons people leave spam comments:
- To generate backlinks that improve search engine rankings. Their hope is that links to their own site will show Google that they’re valuable and legitimate. However, this strategy typically doesn’t work.
- To direct visitors to malicious websites. A lot of spam comments will link to suspicious sites designed to capture information for nefarious purposes.
- To increase traffic or sales on another site. Spam comments may link to perfectly legitimate websites, with the goal of increasing ad views (and revenue) or generating more product sales.
How can I disable comments on individual posts?
There may be times that you want to turn off comments for one particular post rather than all of the posts or pages on your site. All you have to do is go to Posts → All Posts in your WordPress dashboard and click on the one you want to edit. Then, click the gear icon at the top right of the page and expand the Discussion section. Uncheck the box next to Allow Comments, then save your post.
How do I find comments that are in moderation in WordPress?
Your comment moderation queue lists all of the comments that need your approval before they go live on your site. This is your chance to either mark them as spam, publish them on your site, or delete them entirely.
To find the WordPress comment moderation section, click on Comments in your WordPress dashboard. All unmoderated comments will appear with a yellow background and red bar on the left. Underneath each comment, you can choose to approve, reply, edit, trash, or mark the comment as spam.