One major problem that most of the website owners struggle to handle is – SPAM.
If there is any form on your website that collects information from your customers or there is any such thing on your site that requires users to enter their details, spam can occur. If your website is popular, chances of experiencing spam are higher.
Spam is a big problem even for websites with forms that don’t offer anything beneficial to the spammer. Web forms are used by spammers to promote their own business without incurring any cost by using important credentials and details of others. For such reasons, mostly malicious websites lead to spam.
It’s true that you can block spam from the web form and keep the content on your website safe and protected. However, this is not the best and permanent solution.
To make sure your web forms are protected to the fullest, you have to make it absolutely difficult for spammers to use the form and target you and your customers.
So, what can be done to protect your website or web forms from spam?
Read this post to know the different types of spam and best measures to combat them!
What is SPAM?
Spam can be a downgrade or low-quality product in beautiful packaging. This means it is an unsolicited or irrelevant message sent online to a large number or an uncountable number of users. The core purpose of spam is to phish, advertise, spread malware, or other similar fraudulent activities.
In the initial days, spam was primarily limited to emails only. However, with passing years, online spam has evolved. Hence, spam can occur because of numerous reasons. It can be in the form of website comments, emails, or others.
Why Does Spam Exist?
Spam is used as a marketing tool because it works in most of the cases.
With technological advancement and too many protective techniques available, spamming has become quite difficult, but still, it is practiced as it is not impossible.
Cold selling is one of the techniques of spamming, which is still highly effective. A spammer never cared about people and their loss, and hence, targets a large number of people through emails, messages, or comments on a continuous basis.
Spamming in SEO is a BlackHat SEO technique. This is done to promote offers and for this spammers use techniques such as article spinning, keyword stuffing, writing content using automated software, and even building links through automated measures. It is important that you must avoid engaging in such techniques because it can harm the business and even lead to legal problems.
For these and more such reasons, it is therefore important to protect yourself from spam. This can be done by understanding the different kinds of spams and ways to protect them.
Types of SEO Spam:
1. Trackback Spam:
Trackbacks were introduced with the aim of being useful. They are helpful in a way and their aim is to inform the webmasters about new backlinks. This is done by creating a link back to the source of backlink.
So, when a person links to your website, it offers them a backlink. This way, quickly a connection is established between you and webmasters. As a result, the spammer is able to carry promotion of its services without being getting noticed.
However, as far as spammers are concerned they are highly benefitted from this service.
One mistake here is that if trackbacks are not monitored, spammers are able to fast create links to your site from their site. As a result, your website responds with a trackback. Once the trackback is live, the link is removed to the website, making it appear like you are linking to them.
This kind of spam is a lot similar to comment spam.
The best solution to this problem is that you can disable pingbacks and trackbacks from discussion settings within the WordPress dashboard.
When you disable trackback from WP dash, it would not affect the existing posts. You need to manually disable it.
For this, select All Posts and within Screen Options, you need to select the number of items on a page to 999. It will stress the PC and internet out. Once all your articles are selected, you may click on Edit tab and editing of bulk posts will be possible. Here, disable Trackback and save the settings.
Moreover, trackbacks are mainly comments. So, they can be protected using the Akismet plugin.
2. Comment Spam:
This kind of spam is terrible and if you get caught with it once, things can be really annoying.
The comment spam is used for creating backlinks.
For this, the software is used by a spammer to identify potential targets and he then posts uncountable comments. Every comment is of no value to the targeted person, but it creates a backlink to the website of the spammer.
Many website developers and marketers believe that disabling the possibility to add links can discourage spammers to target the website. But, this is hardly beneficial.
Most of the spammers never spend much time on checking such things. They blast with comments in every possible way. The only thing is that they target websites, which are related to their niche.
Moreover, if you are targeted automatically, things can be worst. The spam can reduce the server speed and ban your IP for Gmail. Even, it is the time when most people came to know about the spam.
The major mistake web marketers do here is that they never use a Captcha.
Hence, the best solution to combat this problem is by adding a Google Recaptcha on every section of your website, contact forms, login page, and more. The captcha plugin can be used but there is not software available for automatically solving the problem. Even, spammers use the human captcha to target.
Another solution that you can look forward to is activating the Akismet anti-spam plugin. This plugin is available with pre-installed WordPress and is very convenient to set up. It is highly effective and is useful for other platforms. However, you have to highly safe for auto-approving comments using this plugin.
Because even if you are using anti-spam plugins or captchas, still it is best to manually approve the comments on your site.
Moreover, create a login process for users if they wish to comment on the blog. But most of the times, it discourages genuine people from commenting. Hence, it can harm your credibility as well.
But if you are an e-commerce store from where most of the clients buy things then including a login procedure can be beneficial.
Just remember, spamming may help websites to rank high, but this holds true only for the short run. As soon as Google realizes a website committing spam, it instantly changes the ranking and may even penalize the website.
3. Email Spam:
This particular spam is really tough to deal with. It can harm you a lot even if your email is caught by one of the spammers. But the good thing is that Google has its own set of rules and guidelines for differentiating spam emails from genuine ones.
But this also leads to problems at times, when genuine and useful emails sent from a user for the first time go into spam emails folder.
So, what can be done?
Email spams can be managed and overcome in two different ways.
- Then the first way is using the contact form, which can be fixed easily if you are using Captcha. But like most of the websites, you need to mention your domain name on the website no matter what page it is. If you do the same, then know that your email can be added to spam lists or scraped off completely.
- The second way to protect your website from email spam is by using variations. Even, you can use your email address’s image. However, it has a downside. This can reduce the user’s experience and they will not be able to copy, paste your email address.
One place where spammers receive your email is from the opt-in forms. There can be one among many guys who might have mentioned your email in its spam list. This list is traded by spammers and cross promoters and if your email ID is mentioned there, you become an easy target.
- This solution is useful when you subscribe to multiple email lists. It is best to avoid doing such things and if you have already done it, then unsubscribe from the bulk. Use a reliable online tool.
4. Negative SEO Attack:
This is another kind of spam, which can pose big harm to your online business or website. The purpose of this spam is to let Google believe that you perform BlackHat SEO techniques.
Usually, this kind of spamming technique is practiced by competitors who want to ruin your online business and credibility in front of Google. Negative SEO attack can be done in various forms, such as hacking a site, bulk link building, and more.
Though the Penguin 4.0 update from Google has restricted spammers to some extent, still, this kind of spam is highly effective.
The saddest part is that there cannot be done much in order to protect your website from negative SEO attacks. The only way to keep a track of it is to keep monitoring your website on a regular basis. Moreover, multiple links are created on websites, which are quite impossible to remove. Hence, the best way out is to use the disavow tool from Google Search Console. This tool informs about the links, which must be taken into consideration.
Besides this, how can you know the links that are bad and those which are good?
The best solution to find it out is using a link detection tool. There are various robust tools available online, which you can use to disavow and export the same to a file formatted specifically for the Google Disavow tool.
This is the best way to stay protected from negative SEO attacks. This way, you can spot attack as fast as possible and effectively fight against it.
5. DDoS, Bots and Spiders Attacks:
Finally, we have the spiders and bots attack that can target your website because of various reasons. This occurs as a tool or in the form of search engine crawler, which tries to fetch the information from your site, like what sites you are lining.
Though it is not much harmful, being spam it consumes your server’s bandwidth, CPU and firewall.
This form of attack is commonly known as DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service. It is like a large volume of fake traffic being sent your site in a short time.
There is no full-proof solution available to cure this problem, rather than keeping an eye on your website.
The very first attempt to protect the website is to install a good and efficient WordPress security plugin. Such plugin protects the website from harmful things, like malware and other hacks.
Cloudflare is one of the popular and effective tools for DDoS protection. It filters out the traffic coming to your site and let only the good one reaches your site. You can always try using the free version available, which is quite easy to set up. Even, it offers a website with free SSL.
Important Rules to Protect Your Website from SPAM
So, some golden rules, which you must follow to protect your site against spam are:
1. Use a CAPTCHA:
It is a script that blocks spam bots from accessing the forms. They are very effective and have only one problem. They can be sometimes difficult to read.
2. Always Use a Bot-Unfriendly and Human-Friendly Question:
Make sure you always ask the question which is easy to answer by a human and difficult to answer by a bot.
3. Use Session Tokens:
4. Use Data from Form Submissions:
It can help to block spammers as it detects use patterns. If you are receiving bulk emails or message it can be a SPAM.
5. Use Akismet:
It is a powerful tool that helps block comments spam and is a useful method for bloggers.
Spamming has evolved over time and is practiced in numerous ways. To stay protected from spam, follow the above-mentioned measures, use anti-spam solutions, and regularly track your website.