Preventing Web Spam Backlinks & Intervention by Google
This guide aims to explain what’s happening when your WordPress website is getting pummelled with spammy looking comments, how to remove them and also how to stop them and still use the comment system.
Post Contents & Navigation
This post is a bit of a beast!
Click on the links below to jump down to the topic you need or download a bonus printable version below:
- Disabling Spam Comments Manually
- Disabling Spam Comments Using a Plugin
- Removing Old Spam Comments Manually
- Removing Old Spam Comments Using a Plugin
- How To Use WordPressComments Spam FREE
We hope you enjoy!
What You Will Learn:
How To Disable WordPress Spam Comments
Learn how to disable the WordPress comments manually or with a selection of plugins to make the job fast, safe and efficient.
How To Clean Out Old WordPress Spam Comments
Learn where the comments are and how to remove them using your WordPress admin panel. Again, there is a simple plugin option to fix the problem!
How To Get Spam-FREE WordPress Comments Like The Pros
Find out what plugins and setup other websites are using to not only avoid this problem, but provide better commenting for their audience.
FREE BONUS: Get a free PDF checklist guide you can print out and work through to fix your WordPress comment spam problems. (This is the same guide we send to websites that have been under negative SEO attacks)
Here’s the good news… yes! Google and other search engines continuously ‘crawl’ and review websites across the internet. This means that they can see if links on your site have been removed. If they see that they are being removed, they will lift penalties on your site caused by hosting these bad links.
A backlink can be defined as ‘an incoming hyperlink from one web page to another website’. This basically means a clickable link on one site which leads a user to another website. By spamming the internet with links back to your site, for example in unprotected comment fields, it used to be a good way to make the linked to website rank highly in Google and therefore get more visitors to your site.
Google quickly caught onto this loophole to generate traffic and closed it up. Now they rank links by quality and penalise websites if they are seen to be creating web spam backlinks to their site. Not only does this affect the site which the links are pointing towards, but it also damages the search ranking of the website displaying the links. Creating bad backlinks has now become a way of damaging link profiles of competitors in so called ‘negative SEO attacks’.
As already discussed, it is imperative that web spam backlinks are removed from sites to stop Google from penalising both parties. There are multiple ways to remove links stored in comments from your WordPress site.
Manually disable comments on existing posts & pages (easiest)
Use a plugin to globally disable comments across your site (fastest)
The first and easiest way would be to manually disable them from your posts and pages. This method is simple although, depending on the amount of posts and pages on your site, it could be a little more time consuming.
The second, and by far the quickest, method would be to install a plugin to globally disable comments across your site. Once installed, it’s just a few click to disable spam comments.
Once you have disabled comments, it is a good idea to do some house cleaning to remove out old spam comments from your WordPress database. This will give your site speed improvements and remove the possibility of these spam comments reemerging. We will cover the process for doing this after we have disabled the comments on your site.
One way to remove and disable comments from your posts is to disable them page by page. This method will generally take longer for sites with large amounts of posts and pages, but it is easier with less technical knowledge needed.
First you must enable the ‘Discussion‘ panel. To do this click ‘Screen Options’ at the top of the page or post editing page.
Then tick the box next to ‘Discussion’ if it is not currently enabled.
Scroll down the page to find the ‘Discussion’ section. Simply untick the allow comments checkbox and click the update button.
NOTE 1: Step 1 should only need to be done once.
NOTE 2: Step 2 should be completed for every post and page in your WordPress installation.
Now that you have disabled comments on your existing posts and pages, you should change the settings in WordPress to ensure that all future posts and pages don’t have comments switched on by default. To do this in the navigation, head to Settings > Discussion.
On this screen, it is possible to adjust the standard discussion settings within WordPress. Unfortunately, comments without any filtering are standard on WordPress – meaning that a WordPress powered site can be an open gateway for spam comments / backlinks.
Firstly we want to disable the following tick boxes if they are currently ticked in your WordPress install.
- Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article
- Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)
- Allow people to post comments on new articles
This will stop future web spam on new posts and new pages which are posted to the WordPress site.
Next it can also be useful to set all new comments to be manually approved before appearing on the website. This is simply an extra precaution to ensure that any future comments will need to be verified to ensure that they are not spam.
Here ensure that the ‘comment must be manually approved’ and the ‘comment author must have a previously approved comment’ boxes are ticked.
Finally, scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Save Changes’ to save these to the discussion settings in your WordPress installation.
An easier way to disable comments across a WordPress site is to install a plugin. Plugins are small collections of code which work alongside and integrate with WordPress to perform additional tasks which are not possible with a standard installation.
There are many plugins available to globally disable comments. We recommend the use of the ‘Disable Comments’ plugin by solarissmoke. This is a free plugin which makes the disabling of WordPress comments possible in just a few clicks.
The Disable Comments plugin can be found on the WordPress site here:
There are two main ways to install a WordPress plugin – manually uploading the plugin files via FTP/ SFTP, or using the plugin installer built into WordPress. The easiest way is to use the WordPress installer, which is how we will document the below plugin’s installation.
Finding the plugin
Open your WordPress admin panel and head to Plugins > Add New.
Type ‘Disable Comments’ in the search field and click the ‘Search Plugins’ button.
Installing the plugin
Find the Disable Comments Plugin in the displayed search results. The author should be displayed as Samir Shah. Once you have identified the correct plugin, click the ‘Install Now’ button as highlighted below.
You may need to confirm that you want to install this plugin. Simply click okay to continue.
Activating the plugin
Once the plugin has been installed, it needs to be activated. Simply click ‘Activate Plugin’ to continue.
Now the plugin is installed and activated, we simply need to disable comments on the website. Using the navigation on the left menu, head to Settings > Disable Comments
Select the radio button next to everywhere. This simply means that comments will be disabled everywhere across your website. This includes posts, pages, media files and other page types which may have been added by your other plugins.
At this stage you can make these changes permanent, to ensure that the improvements are kept even if this plugin is removed (this is optional but recommended). To do this tick the ‘Use persistent mode’ checkbox. To save and disable the comments on your site, click the ‘Save Changes’ button.
That’s it! You have now disabled the comments on your website. Ideally you will now want to remove the spam comments on your site. This again can be done in multiple ways.
The first and simplest method for removing comments in WordPress is to use the admin panel. Using this method takes far longer if you have a large amount of comments in your system, but it also allows you to save legitimate comments if they exist.
To start, head to Comments > All Comments.
Next select the comments which you need to delete by ticking the box next to the spam comment.
Then select ‘Move to Trash’ in the bulk options field and click ‘Apply’. This will send the selected comments to the trash and they will be no longer be visible on the site. These, however, are recoverable later if this is required.
Commonly unprotected sites can have thousands of spam comments in the database all with spam links. To remove all comments at once it is easiest to use a plugin. It is possible to do it straight into the database if you know what you are doing, or in the admin panel bit by bit.
The plugin which we recommend for this task is called ‘Delete All Comments’. You can find this plugin on the WordPress website here: http://wordpress.org/support/plugin/delete-all-comments
To install this plugin, use the same method as outlined above for the disabling comments plugin.
Once the plugin is installed and activated, navigate to Tools > Delete All Comments.
Finally to delete ALL existing comments on the WordPress website, tick the ‘Delete all comments’ checkbox and then click ‘Delete All’. This will then delete all of the comments from your WordPress database.
Now you’ve fixed the problem, here are two examples of plugins you can install on your site for FREE, which give you much stronger control over what’s published on your site. These plugins are also typically not picked up by scraping software that do the automated comment injections.
People have to manually add a spam comment which will GREATLY reduce the amount you receive, benefits include:
- Stopping automated spam comments
- Simple and fast approval processes
- Better comment functionality compared to the default WordPress comment system
- Embedded Facebook Posts
- Like, Send and Follow Buttons For Your Site
- Facebook Insights Support
- Open Graph protocol
- Facebook Comments Box social plugin
- Threaded Comments and Replies on Your Posts
- Notifications and Reply Options by Email
- Aggregated Social Mentions and Comments
- Spam Filtering and Blacklisting Options
- Online Support for Community Members