Handling 151,000 Spam Comments On Your Custom WordPress Site

Spam Comments in WordPressWhen you build a Custom WordPress Site, one of your hopes is to make that site rank well in search engines and generate a good steady stream of traffic.  As your site matures and the amount of content continues to grow, your visitor traffic should also see increase.

While you may be excited about this increase in traffic, one of the negative side effects that can happen is an increase in spam comments.  Unfortunately popularity doesn’t just bring in potential business, but it can also bring along those annoying spammers.

Why do they bother with your site you may ask? Well, it’s pretty simple: Spammers comment on your site hoping to build quality backlinks to build up their own search engine optimization.

How To Recognize WordPress Spam Comments

Comment Spam in your WordPress Site

Here are three easy ways to spot spam comments in WordPress:

  1. Fake names- If your name really is Medicaid Doctors, I want to see your birth certificate.  Since most WordPress comment systems use the name field in comments for anchor text on the backlink, a common practice by spammers is to make their name whatever their keyword is.  So if you see something other than an actual name in the name field, it is more than likely spam.
  2. Weird punctuation and typos-  As you can see in my image above, another common practice used by spammers is strange punctuation and typos.   It is not normal for someone to type “That’s the great article! I just pass ‘n read it, two thumbs up! ;)”  Now this practice is a little sneakier than the other two spam signals because it looks like a normal person that just has some issues with spelling and grammar.  The reason spammers use this practice is so that they can quickly and easily scan search engines and find where their comments have been accepted and indexed.  They go to google and type in something like: That’s the great article! I just pass ‘n read.  Because it is a unique phrasing and spelling, it is easily to find in search engines. Every link they find with those results then become an instant breeding ground for spam.

    They realize either the owner of the WordPress site does not realize it is spam or they don’t really pay attention to their site anymore.  Allow a few of these spam comments to index on your site and within no time you will get hit with thousands of spam comments.

  3. Excessive links-  Some of the less than honorable SEO companies out there realize the value in backlinks to a domain and will try to get as many as they can to their clients sites.  So, they will come and drop 30+ links in one comment on your site.  This should be a pretty obvious indication of spam on your site and should be marked as spam right away.

Blocking Spam Comments On Your WordPress Site

So now that you know how to recognize spam comments, what do you do to block the spam and stop the influx of spam comments?  The first thing that everyone should do when setting up a new WordPress site is install Akismet and get it activated.  This is the default spam plugin that WordPress installs whenever you start a new site.  Unfortunately, because of it’s strange name, most people don’t know what it is and never activate the plugin.

Then after their site is live for a few months and the comments start coming in and they are receiving so many a day they contact me and beg for help.  Take a look at one of my recent clients WordPress comment spam problem:

Yes, 151,000+ spam comments attacked his WordPress site in just a few months.  He was averaging around 3,000 a day before I fixed his problem.  Now after configuring Akismet that problem has been resolved.

Once you have Akismet installed and configured correctly, the next important thing to remember is that when a comment shows up on your blog that looks like it could be spam, don’t approve the comment.  Also, don’t just hit the delete button.  I know some clients that do this and they cannot figure out why they keep coming back.  You must mark spam comments as spam instead of just deleting them.  When you just delete comments the Akismet filter cannot learn who the spammers are.  When you mark it as spam it notifies Akismet and you are doing your part to help the entire WordPress community against future spam comments from that person.

Another important step to stopping comment spam is to make sure your Akismet plugin is kept up to date.  If you are running older versions of the plugin, you are leaving a door open for the spammers to get in.  This is important to do with all plugins on your site for security, but especially important for fighting against comment spam.

An extra step that you can take to fight spam is to install one of the additional spam blockers in the WordPress plugin directory.  I currently don’t run one, so I can’t give you any good suggestions on those.  Instead I prefer to use the Disqus Comment System on my personal WordPress sites.  When you use something like Disqus, Livefyre, Commentluv, or other comment systems it will also help to lower the amount of spam as they normally require a different type of login like a Facebook account, Twitter account, etc from the default name, website, comment fields.  Spammers don’t like giving away their true identity and are usually too lazy to make another account, so they will just move on.

On a side note, one idea that has been asked to me by many of my WordPress clients is whether or not they should change their discussion settings so that they must approve all comments before they go live.  To me, this is a very bad idea.  Nothing is worse than a good conversation happening on a blog post and I want to jump in, so I write a thoughtful comment to be greeted by: Your Comment is awaiting moderation.  That is like a punch to the gut and takes all the wind out of my sails.  That being said, I wouldn’t use moderation.


So, in closing here’s the steps to deal with WordPress spam:

  1. Recognize spam comments and mark them as spam.
  2. Make sure akismet is installed and configured properly.
  3. Mark spam comments as spam and don’t just delete.
  4. Install additional levels of spam filters if needed.

Hopefully after reading this post you have a better understanding on how to deal with WordPress spam comments.  If spam comments on your custom WordPress site are out of control, and the things above do not seem to resolve your problems, feel free to contact me for help with a WordPress Site.

*Bonus*- Deleting 151,0oo Spam Comments In Under 30 Seconds

So I teased you in the title on how to handle your Custom WordPress site if spam comments get out of hand and reach 151,000+.  I’ve had many clients that have several hundred spam comments in their WordPress site, but never one with over 150,000 till just a few weeks ago.  When I saw this I figured it was time to make a quick video on how to delete spam comments in bulk from your site.  You could go into the comments section and remove them manually, but that can become very time consuming when you have thousands to remove and can only do it 50 at a time.

So here’s a quick easy way to remove 151,000 comments at once:

The code that you need to enter is:  DELETE FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_approved = 0

As you saw in my example, this removed over 151,000 WordPress spam comments in under thirty seconds.  It is a quick easy way to clean up your spam box and save you hours of time.

Happy Spam Fighting!


Jeremy Blanton

Jeremy Blanton is the Co-Founder of 210 Consulting- Social Media Advisors. He is a social media speaker who shares with thousands of people each year on things like how to use Facebook for Business, Blogging, and How to use Twitter.

When he is not coaching or speaking, he spends most of his time working on Custom WordPress Sites for his clients.

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  • Thanks for this nifty little backdoor trick to get rid of a bunch of spam comments at one time. 151K…oh my! Much appreciated Jeremy!

  • Glad I could help @AnitaClark:disqus. It was by far the worst I’ve ever seen

  • Steven Wade

    Hey Jeremy,

    Since you left out a third-party WordPress.org plugin recommendation, I recommend this: http://wordpress.org/plugins/spammers-suck

  • Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll check it out!

  • Nice post Jeremy. I’m still amazed when I log into a new client’s wordpress site and see that they have not done the most fundamental things even though they previously had contracted someone to ensure their blog is in order. People who do this stuff for a living often take for granted that all those in the space know what they are doing. Good share and good recommendations.

  • @patrickhealy:disqus you are not alone in your amazement. I get shocked every day by some of the work done by “other professionals” 🙂

  • job

    Nice post. It more useful to escape my blog from spam. Thanks dude!!!

  • Masör Emre

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  • Mona Ali
  • I landed up here because my new blog is getting 600 comments & user registrations and trackbacks everyday. Please tell me how to solve it.

    My site: http://techtheorem.com/

  • My guess is that you have your registrations incorrect or do not have an active up to date version of akismet running.

  • Is it because I ordered a fiverr gig for making 20,000 backlinks?
    My site TechTheorem

  • More than likely. Most all of that Fivrr garbage is a waste and end up doing more damage than help. You probably need more than just Akismet running to prevent the overload of spam.

  • I tried installing commentluv but it did not help. Now, I am using disqus and it is doing it’s work properly.

    What about the trackbacks that I am receiving from random sites? How to deal and what are it’s effects?

  • The trackbacks mean they are linking to you.

  • Jeremy, you are a much better man than I am. 🙂

  • Thanks 🙂

  • You will need to decide that one…

  • ayvacowell

    SUPER helpful little SQL query tip. THANK YOU!

  • This post just helped me help a client of mine that needed a very complex form in their site. I was struggling to get 3 plugins to do the job, and it still wasn’t what they were looking for. After reading this, I downloaded gravity forms, and 2 hours later, their perfect form is up. They think I’m a genius! Thanks for this post!

  • Thanks for this great list of plugins! I’m always looking for new ones since I’m still pretty new to WordPress. I’m looking to build my blog community so I’m looking forward to trying out Comment Redirect and Comment Reply Notification. Loving all your blog tips!

  • Akismet keeps my blog from spam comments and helps me approve quality comments at ease. Thanks for the detailed post.

  • As I’m new to blogging I dunno how to find spam comments in my wordpress. Now I got an easy way to find the spam comments, thank you Jeremy.

  • thats a great article