7 Best Anti-Spam WordPress Plugins That Save You Tons Of Time 2018
Popular websites are constantly under fire when it comes to spam content. Ads and popups integrate themselves through automated algorithms and Google Ads without your knowledge. Automated chatbots and real-world spammers do their best to clog your site to a point where your SEO begins to suffer.
Although spam can be a serious nuisance, it can also be alleviated through WordPress plugins designed to prevent them. These plugins can save a ton of time and effort, so let’s take a look at some representative examples.
What defines a good anti-spam plugin?
While most people would agree that spam is a serious issue on the internet, it is also important to define it properly. WordPress is arguably the most popular CMS (Content Management System) on the internet. It powers the majority of blogs, e-commerce storefronts and other websites.
This means that it has become a predominant target for hackers and virus programmers. To amend for that threat, developers have decided to pay closer attention to plugins that circumvent this issue. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing an anti-spam plugin:
Minimal user input – The majority of anti-spam actions should be done automatically without your explicit command. All you should be required to do is input starting commands and let the plugin do the rest. After all, the automation of spam control is the very reason why anti-spam plugins exist in the first place. Plugins that require user’s action to do anything about unwanted comments are not well-designed anti-spam plugins.
Minimal database load – Plugins should be as lightweight as possible. The more plugins you use on your site, the greater your chances are of lowering your SERP ranking. This is a bad idea considering that SEO plays a huge role in your overall internet visibility. Plugins that are huge in size and load slowly should be left behind and exchanged for their more compact counterparts.
Statistics and tracking – Plugins should be able to provide relevant data for your analysis. For example, anti-spam plugins should be clear about how many comments they have tracked, deleted, moderated or otherwise overlooked. This allows us to tweak our settings accordingly in order to maintain a good level of comment moderation. Plugins that offer no data about what they are doing to your site should be eliminated in favor of more detailed plugins.
Long-term costs – Some plugins come with one-time payments or completely for free. Others require monthly fees and subscriptions based on the service model you chose to use. Plugins should always reflect the price they demand from users. This means that you should be careful about which plugins you are paying real-world money for and what you are getting in return. Some of the best plugins can usually get the job done without having to fork over money up front.
Why use anti-spam plugins?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we should talk about the usage of anti-spam plugins as a whole. What do these plugins represent and why should you bother with installing one? After all, the fewer plugins you have, the faster your site will operate.
While this may be true, it is also worth pointing out that plugins effectively solve WordPress issues that would otherwise be left untended. These range from simple UI design choices to customizing a site with custom options and capabilities not found in the base CMS.
So what about anti-spam plugins? How can these add-ons help your site in the long run?
Anti-spam plugins serve as automated bots that can prevent excessive commenting through the same IP address. What this means is that they limit the number of comments per IP address per hour. Real-world comments from actual people will never suffer from these plugins, since automated scripts and bots tend to literally spam sites with comments.
Imagine someone commenting on all of your blog posts at the same moment with the same text that simply contains malware. This is what anti-spam plugins were originally designed for, but what else can they do? Anti-spam plugins effectively ease your job as a comment moderator.
You can comfortably set strict rules in the back-end of your WordPress CMS without your audience knowing. Banning certain phrases, profanities as well as general spamming is quite easy. All it takes for you to gain control over your site again is to install a plugin that does just that. Depending on the type of content you post and the level to which you interact with your audience, you can opt for strict or lenient plugins with different options to choose from.
Although very similar in their function, they differ enough from one another for you to be able to choose the one that is perfect for your own needs. Let’s take a look at some of those examples right now to determine their strengths, weaknesses and capabilities.
Let’s start by introducing the most popular and effective anti-spam plugin for WordPress. Akismet is a plugin that allows you to easily control what is considered a genuine comment and what gets flagged as spam.
Akismet has over 20 million downloads and is available for personal use completely for free. However, anyone that wants to use the plugin for commercial purposes (as most people do) will have to pay for a premium key that will allow them to do so.
Akismet is very good at providing you with genuine data that shows the entire history of your blog since the moment you installed it. This is a great opportunity for you to store comment history about your blog and use it for further content refinement.
You can set it to automatically eliminate spam data and make your database lighter as a result. After all, there is no need to keep a close record of every spam comment made on your site since some of them will purposely include images and other multimedia. Akismet is in active development as continues to lead the charge when it comes to WordPress anti-spam plugins.
2. Growmap Anti-Spam Plugin
The second anti-spam plugin on our list is Growmap’s aptly named Anti-Spam Plugin. This plugin allows you to set comment checks that forbid any automated bots from posting on your site. Automated spam bots are used to meeting zero resistance on the WordPress sites they usually hit. However, Growmap has come up with an intricate solution that adds a simple checkbox next to the comment.
While it may seem too simple, most scripted bots are unable of filling this checkbox properly. The plugin can go further and add an extra layer of security in the form of a captcha that requires manual typing of an auto-generated message. Most bots are unable of filling both of these requests, meaning that they will likely fail at spamming your site.
You can even set a custom amount of comments available per IP address per hour. This means that you can even control your real-world commenters. Some of them will want to write more than a few comments at a time. It is up to you whether you want to control this behavior or not.
This plugin comes free of charge for personal use but does have an extra charge for commercial use as most plugins do. The free version of this plugin doesn’t have any support available either, so make sure to get the premium variant if you want to prevent any malicious spam content on your site.
3. Anti-Spam Bee
If you are looking for an intricate and in-depth plugin for your spam prevention, look no further than Anti-Spam Bee. This plugin takes into account all the intricacies you might want to tweak and customize in regards to your website.
Anti-Spam Bee is smart enough to realize which users are legitimate and which accounts have been automatically generated by bots. It does this by looking at the amount of information added to the account post-creation. This information includes personal ID information, user’s avatar; user’s posting cycle and general vocabulary in the comments themselves.
It can effectively match comments to a global database of spam comments made across all WordPress websites which is a huge benefit since bots usually copy and paste comments. While the plugin does its best to notify you of every spam comment made on the site, it can easily be set to self-manage everything based on your instructions.
It automatically deletes old spam databases so that your site works faster and requires minimal upkeep from you as the administrator. Anti-Spam Bee is free to use and is being updated and refined by the WordPress community. This means that you yourself can participate in developing the plugin further in order to make it as effective as possible.
As far as silent anti-spam plugins go, WP-SpamShield is the leading piece of software. This plugin works differently from common anti-spam plugins you might come across. There are no captcha checks, boxes to tick or pictures to identify with WP-SpamShield.
The plugin boasts a very complex algorithm that can detect automated bots and differentiate them from humans. It goes a step further and manages to separate human commenters from human spammers through pattern analysis as well.
While most plugins operate autonomously from one another, WP-SpamShield effectively optimizes your site to work faster than before. It does this by eliminating any excess code that might be left after the site’s setup, as well as by introducing scheduled database cleanups. It can work perfectly in tandem with other anti-spam plugins that require manual checks of identity but it isn’t necessary.
You can safely operate with WP-SpamShield and no other anti-spam plugin on your website. This plethora of options comes at a cost however, since there is no free version of WP-SpamShield available. While the plugin did start as a freeware piece of software, the author quickly understood that their creation garnered interest.
In order to develop it further and make it useful for large commercial sites and companies, WP-SpamShield comes with a one-time payment after which you are free to use it however you see fit. You will not only have a quality plugin on your CMS, but you will also have access to developer support should any problems arise.
5. CleanTalk Anti-Spam
CleanTalk represents an all-in-one anti-spam plugin. The developers behind CleanTalk have decided to completely eradicate spam content of any time with their plugin. This means that any action that is detected as spam will be eliminated according to your instructions.
In practice, this means that repeated comments, bookmark actions, site loading or other actions can be seen as spam. These actions do cause a repeated strain on your database with constant requests that can slow down your website.
CleanTalk can eliminate them effectively thanks to a very innovative anti-spam system. The plugin operates based on a cloud database with spam activity ranging back to the plugin’s inception. Any action that matches the activity previously detected by CleanTalk will be flagged as spam.
There are no captcha or manual checks to speak of with this plugin, but the cloud database is comprehensive enough for it to operate independently. CleanTalk is a premium plugin that does require payment but the pricing models vary depending on individual cases and the number of sites you want to install it on.
Formerly known as Goodbye Captcha, WPBruiser is a self-explanatory anti-spam plugin available for WordPress CMS. The idea behind WPBruiser is that the plugin tracks and analyzes user activity from the moment they access your site. A user is identified as an individual IP address that made contact with your site and not a human being necessarily.
This means that any bots masked as real people will immediately cause WPBruiser to block them from further action on your site. While many other plugins operate on a reparatory level, WPBruiser works to prevent spam from ever happening in the first place.
Depending on the freedom you assign to it, you can have the plugin track and block bots and other auto-generated content. This means that your database will never see the spam content being uploaded and take up precious space – which is also what most plugins do.
The reason for this is also why WPBruiser differs enough from other contemporary plugins – it makes your site faster and more secure just by being there. As with most advanced plugins, WPBruiser does come in different packages and pricing models, which means you can easily tweak the price according to your needs.
7. WordPress Zero Spam
Lastly, it’s fitting to talk about one of the best anti-spam plugins which is made by a single developer. Ben Marshall is a full stack developer that started developing Zero Spam based on the code made by his colleague. His aim was to create a plugin that requires zero maintenance or tweaking from the administrator’s side. This meant that the plugin would be perfect for people who aren’t tech savvy and simply want to clean up their site of any spam.
The resulting anti-spam plugin is widely considered as one of the best and lightest plugins available in the category. Marshall’s assurance of “99.9% spam prevention” translates into practice as the many positive reviews and comments would suggest.
Zero Spam effectively blocks spam comments, IP addresses and any action that might slow down your website and comes from an automated bot or a script. It can be integrated into any WordPress theme found on the internet without any issues.
Zero Spam is in semi-active development as is free to use for anyone who might need it. Marshall continues to iron out any bugs found by the community but refrains from adding additional code to an already functional anti-spam plugin.
In conclusion – Spam or spam free?
With all the information we have covered on some of the best anti-spam plugins out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Keep in mind that every opinion of “the best” of something is purely subjective. Just because a plugin works for someone else doesn’t mean it will suit your personal needs.
These needs vary depending on the type of content you provide to your readers as well as the traffic you receive. Some sites naturally attract more traffic due to them being e-commerce sites with items on sale while others don’t attract as many people. Be careful not to moderate people that are genuinely trying to comment or interact with your content however – it can leave a very bad lasting impression of your practices.
Give different plugins a chance before settling with a single option. You might find more use and enjoyment from installing a relatively small and unknown plugin that others don’t even know about. Make sure that all your plugins come from the official WordPress plugin storefront however. While some legitimate plugins do exist outside of the official jurisdiction, chances are that they are more trouble than they are worth.
Alaine Gordon is a young and talented content manager at Essays Solutions. She has been writing professionally since 2010 about almost everything, from psychology and to finance. Alaine Gordon graduated from the University of Colorado with B.A. in Journalism, 2011. She is an open-minded, creative person who loves to make people smile. Her credo is ‘Life is a fun enterprise’. In her free time she loves traveling, reading science fiction and knitting. Her huge dream is to visit every single country in the world.