If your website contains a blog or a public forum, chances are that spammers will try to abuse your website by posting deceiving content and links. A website containing spam is at risk for Google penalties and drop in search rankings, in addition to the negative impression such content gives to your human visitors.
Google’s Webmaster Blog published a post on what you can do to protect your website from user generated spam; following are eight steps you can take based on their recommendations:
1. Secure your website by keeping your forum and blog software updated
Spammers take advantage of security issues in older versions of all content management systems, including WordPress. For that reason, it is important that you keep your software up-to-date.
-> Learn more about the importance of WordPress Website Maintenance & Security
2. Use CAPTCHAs to block robots
Spam is usually created by automated robots. A CAPTCHA requires users to confirm that they are humans and not an automated script before posting. One popular CAPTCHA service is Google’s reCAPTCHA.
3. Block suspicious behavior and check the top posters
Setting time limits between posts and blocking excessive traffic from individual IP addresses helps reduce activities coming from automated bots. Also, if a new user has lots of posts, it’s a good idea to check to make sure that they are not spammy.
4. Disable some types of comments
It’s good practice to disable comments on old blog posts or forum entries that are unlikely to receive legitimate interaction. If you are using your blog or forum as an archive, disable comments completely .
5. Use the moderation features of your blog or forum software
Requiring a name and email address from comment authors as well as requiring approval for new author comments before they’re publicly visible helps reduce blog comment spam. If you’re using WordPress, these are found under discussion settings. For a forum it can be helpful to require users to have a minimum number of reputation points before than can post links. For both blogs and forums, make sure that a comment with links is held for moderation so you can review it before approving.
6. Blacklist obviously spammy terms
If you see that many spam entries on your site contain the same words, you can block these words by adding them to a blacklist. Most forums and blog tools, including WordPress, offer features or settings that enable you to automatically mark posts with particular words as spam.
7. Use the rel=nofollow attribute for links in user generated content
Nofollow links will deter spammers from targeting your site as using this attribute ensures that links they post will not receive any search ranking benefit. Many blogging websites automatically add the rel=nofollow attribute to user generated links. You could also remove links from comments before they appear publicly.
8. Use anti-spam plugins
In addition to the above, anti-spam plugins will do a lot of the work automatically to help keep your blog and forums spam-free.
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