This is the kick off to our annual January Blog Challenge: 31 Days To Clean Up Your Blog. What better time than January to sit down and review your blog? Over the 31 days we'll be sharing 31 tips, ideas, and strategies for you to deal with all those pesky maintenance tasks, take steps to grow in the new year and make blogging easier. This is Day 26.
Spam comments and email can be the bane of your existence as a blogger. They're annoying garbage that take up too much of our time. So how do you deal with them?
It's important to note that spam filters work extremely hard and most catch upwards of 99% of spam. But the sheer volume of spam that clogs up the internet on a daily basis is so massive and overwhelming that even with a 99% catch rate it can feel like a lot gets through. So you will have to exercise some patience.
If you're using WordPress, hopefully you have Akismet activated. (If you already have Akismet working for you don't skip ahead just yet) Akismet is an anti-spam plug-in that comes packaged with WordPress - you just need to turn it on. You can do this by visiting the Akismet site and getting what's called an "API Key". Once you have your key, copy and paste it into the API key field in WordPress and boom... you're good to go.
Akismet does a great job of collecting spam - probably about 99% of it will get filtered. It holds it in a spam filter that you can review if you like. It does occasionally make a mistake and filter a genuine comment but it's rare. The beauty? You don't get email notifications for all the comments - Akismet just holds them all in a folder for you.
***make sure you empty your Akismet spam folder regularly! It can easily accumulate into the thousands and tens of thousands very quickly. All that spam is taking up space on your server.
You can delete your spam by clicking on the link circled above (usually shown at the top of your WordPress dashboard). It will take you to your spam folder, where you can click on the empty spam button:
That's it! Aksimet does have a monthly cost which varies on the type of plan you have but trust me, it is well worth it!
Other ways you can combat spam with WordPress are to check your Discussion settings (under the Settings menu in your Dashboard). Here you can tell WordPress to hold all comments with links for moderation by you or you can set it to approve comments by people who have already legitimately commented on your blog.
There is a lot of comment spam these days that's clever enough to make it through Akismet but a sure giveaway is if the user has included a link to a site that's junk - either in the comment or in their user profile. Putting those in an approval queue will allow you to catch those before they're published.
Squarespace also has a built in anti-spam checker that should block most of your spam comments - they boast a 99.5% block rate which is comparable to Akismet's anti-spam abilities and that of most commercial email spam blockers.
Normally we don't mention email spam because most email servers do a very good job of blocking it but, in the last year or two there's a new type of spam that directly targets content creators. And it looks legit.
We're talking about "guest post" requests and link exchange requests. These are emails that you get where a freelance writer contacts you, praises your site and asks if they can write for you. They may even have some article suggestions or offer up a look at previous articles they've written
Others will contact you saying they loved your post on <insert random link from your website> and they have a fabulous article on <insert random article name> that they think your readers would find interesting and that would add value to your readers.
Both of these are spam. Some of these are very cleverly done and can fool even the most seasoned digital content creator. But here's some sure signs that the email you're getting is spam:
- these emails usually come in a series of 3 - the first is the pitch, the second comes a day or two later "just checking" to see if you got their email and the final will hint that it's your last chance to respond
- look at the fine print - many of them have an "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of the email. that's a sure sign you're on a spammy email list
- they ask if they can pay YOU to write for you - nobody legit will ever offer to pay you to write for you. They may offer to write for free to boost up their portfolio but if they're offering payment they're going to want to slide in some shady black hate SEO tactics
- anyone who asks for a do follow link for anything other than their own website or porfolio
- anyone who asks you for a do follow link for a client of theirs.
In most cases it's pretty unlikely there's a real person behind any of these but even if there is, proceed with caution. I have had legit writers in our niche contact me with well researched guest post suggestions that are a good fit for us. They have real portfolios or blogs and in some cases I've heard of them before they reach out. But virtually every single time I agree to have a conversation with them, they have asked for a do follow link for some product or service they've been hired to promote. So proceed with caution!
The best ways to deal with these emails are to ignore and delete, mark as spam or junk or unsubscribe. Responding can result in a further onslaught of spam!
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