If you have a WordPress site, there’s a good chance you welcome giving your users the option to comment on a blog, register for information, send you an email, or something else. It’s great to have folks communicate with you, but this also opens the door to (gulp!) spam.
Unfortunately, spam comes with the territory, as the WordPress CMS is so popular, it naturally attracts an increased number of troublemakers looking to hack or wreak havoc on your site.
If not dealt with, it can become like swatting mosquitoes away from your WordPress site — annoying and challenging to control.
Luckily, there are plugins out there that can come to your rescue and defend your site against spammers, ensuring that only real users you want to connect with get through.
We’ll be looking at 15 top-rated plugins that can help you fight against spam—keeping real engagement flowing and kicking any spammer attempts to the curb.
Each plugin has specific features, and they’re all different. Take your pick. You might want to use just one or combine them as part of a full-proof spam protection strategy.
We’ll also look at ways to combat spam from your WordPress dashboard without a plugin.
Akismet filters through the comments on your blog and marks any suspicious-looking one as spam. When they’re spotted, the comments will be sent to the spam section of the WordPress admin’s comments page.
To use Akismet, you need to get an Akismet.com API key. Keys are free for personal blogs, and there are paid subscriptions available for businesses and commercial WordPress sites. So, depending on what kind of operation you have set up, you can choose accordingly.
With over 5 million active installations, it’s the most popular combat against spam.
Our free Defender plugin is our answer to security and can quickly put the smackdown on spammers. With his powerful firewall, you can block hackers or bots before reaching your site with his defense.
He has IP banning, IP lockouts, 404 detections, the capability of automatically identifying bad acting IPs, and much more. Therefore, you can eliminate spam and anyone up to no good before they have a chance even to reach your website.
With a solid 5-star review and popular with over 30K active users, you’ll want to have Defender in your corner to stop spammers in their tracks.
For more information, check out our article on how to get the most out of Defender security.
3. WordPress Zero Spam
Instead of relying on visitors to prove they’re genuine users with CAPTCHA, the WordPress Zero Spam plugin makes spam bots jump through hoops so your users can enjoy a better user experience. After all, let’s face it, CAPTCHA can be complicated.
It uses AI in combination with effective spam detection techniques and a database of known malicious IPs from across the globe to detect and block spammers.
It can also integrate with popular 3rd party apps, such as Contact Form 7, BuddyPress, WPForms, and more.
Plus, it’s completely free to use.
NoSpamNX blocks comment spam by creating a field that only bots can see. Then, once bots fill it out, the comment is not published and can either be blocked or completely moved into the spam queue.
Instead of relying on CAPTCHA or calculations to defend you against automated bots, NoSpamNX automatically adds additional form fields to your comment form that are invisible to human users.
When a spambot blindly fills these fields out, the comment doesn’t get saved. Then, you can decide whether to block the spambots or mark them as spam.
A useful plugin that blocks many forms of spam so you can use fewer plugins is Stop Spammers. This plugin helps block comment and registration spam, spam email, and spambots while also monitoring your login attempts.
It also features over 50 + configuration options for maximum personalization.
Stop Spammers works right away once installed without much to adjust. However, if you’d like more options, there is a Stop Spammers Premium option.
6. FV Antispam
FV Antispam is a powerful and straightforward plugin that moves any spambot comments directly into the trash. It works with Akismet by combatting bot spam while Akismet combats human spam.
It’s a great solution, partially because of the low CPU load. It doesn’t burden your hosting or slow down your server, unlike many other effective antispam plugins.
7. CleanTalk Spam Protection
CleanTalk is a universal antispam plugin. It blocks all bots from the forms on your site. That includes comment and registration spam, along with spam that comes through other forms on your site (e.g. bookings, shopping carts, widgets, etc.).
The one thing it won’t do is block manual spam; however, you’ll see a nice reduction in spam, considering most spam is created with bots. Plus, this plugin scans your site for preexisting spam.
It also includes a firewall, which helps prevent your site from DDoS and XML-RPC attacks.
This free plugin will also schedule spam to be deleted and view stats on the blocked and deleted spam.
It’s one of the more popular options for combatting spam, with over 500K active users and a solid 5-star rating.
The Titan Anti-Spam & Security plugin has quite a few awesome features to prevent spam; it includes a firewall, antispam, malware scanner, site accessibility checking, and security & threats audits.
It doesn’t use CAPTCHA and includes an algorithm that ensures reliability and accuracy against spambots. It’s very well updated, and it always meets new versions of CMS.
Spam Destroyer stops automated spam from bots that are sent to your default WordPress comment form. They make it as effortless as possible to use, because once you install it, it’s ready to go. It’s intended as a drop-in solution with no settings or configuration required.
For a free, simple, and easy to use plugin, Spam Destroyer is a great option.
WPBruiser is a security and antispam plugin that is based on algorithms that identify spam bots without any captcha images.
It takes care of spambot signups, spam comments, and brute force attacks. What’s great is it can stop bots from leaving spam in the first place, eliminating the need to go through and deleting spam manually.
The Analytics Spam Blocker works a bit differently than our previous plugins that have been mentioned, where it stops spam bots from reaching your site, so the traffic isn’t accounted for in your Google Analytics data. That means that you should only see genuine traffic reflected in your analytics.
A nice feature is you can also easily report referral spam domains with the Analytics Spam Blocker reporting tool.
The Bad Behavior plugin blocks all incoming traffic from spambots so they can’t access your site. Therefore, it acts as a gatekeeper so that spammers can’t even get to the point of leaving spam.
Bad Behavior is set up to work alongside existing spam blocking services to increase their effectiveness and efficiency. So, if you choose to activate a few spam blocking plugins, this can be an excellent addition to include.
The Cerber Security, Antispam & Malware Scan defends your site against spam, hacker attacks, trojans, and malware.
It has features such as limiting the login attempts when logging in by IP address or subnet, custom login URLs, Cerber anti-spam engine, etc.
All the features that this plugin provides is worth checking out. With a 5-star rating and over 100K downloads, it’s a popular choice.
As the name suggests, the Stop WP Comment Spam plugin helps fight spam by automatically detecting comment spam. It does all of this without using annoying questions, quizzes, or CAPTCHA.
All that you need to do to get it working is to install it. This plugin features a free trial, and then there is an option to upgrade to the Pro version, which has features such as protecting your contact forms, the ability to stop fake user registration, run reports, and more.
As you can see, to stop spam in your comment section, you have a wide range of plugins at your disposal.
There’s also a way to combat spam directly from the WordPress dashboard.
So, here’s a look at three ways to combat manual spam when a plugin might not be enough or when you want some added protection.
One thing that may help is to make users register. Many drive-by spammers will not want to go to the trouble of registering to leave a quick spam comment. After all, they’re pretty lazy.
Go to Settings > Discussion > Other comment settings and check the box to make users register.
Some bots can attempt to register at your site, and while some may be successful, others will not. So even if some use automated software for registrations, it still puts up a wall that will work at least some of the time.
And if you notice a specific IP address causing trouble, you can block it with, for example, our Defender plugin.
The other thing to consider, of course, is your non-spamming visitors. If forced to register, users may go away. You’ll need to make a judgment call if registration is right for you.
Another way to combat spam is to shut the comment section down after a certain amount of time. Shutting down the comments can make sense if you have a highly publicized blog when published, and traffic dies down after a certain amount of time.
Go to Settings > Discussion > Other comment settings and check the box to close older articles’ comments.
Not all, but lots of spammers like to leave links on pages at least somewhat related to whatever it is they’re trying to promote. You may have posts that fit that bill, but when you close comments down after a certain amount of days, then the possibility of having comments open on such a post shrinks dramatically.
If you close comments after 14 days and a spammer finds a post from two months ago via search, the comments on that post will be closed by the time they arrive.
Just keep in mind that doing this may hurt non-spamming visitors. Some may want to leave comments on older posts.
That said, most older posts tend not to get many comments. Folks see that the post has some age, and the flow of initial comments has either slowed considerably or stopped altogether.
If you like this method but worry about closing down comments to genuine visitors, you could extend the time allowed for comments.
This setting lets you hold comments with a certain amount of links in the body of the comment.
Go to Settings > Discussion > Comment Moderation and set the number of links you’d like to allow.
You can decide how many links should trigger a hold here. Two is the default, but you could change that to one (or anything else).
Keep in mind, changing it to zero will hold all comments. That could get very time consuming to shuffle through them all in that setting.
With all 15 anti-spam plugins mentioned in this post and ways to tweak your WordPress dashboard manually, you should easily combat spam on your site. Your WordPress site will be spam-free before you know it!
Spammers will be moving on to more vulnerable locations, leaving you more time to focus on actual users on your site and less annoyed.
If you’d like some more spam-tastic information, check out our Ultimate Guide to WordPress Spam.
On that note, go out there and put the smackdown on spammers.