Spam causes headaches for everybody except the spammers themselves. It can seem like an uphill battle to get these undesirables off of a site. Making some strategic changes on a site can help, like disallowing links, using cookies or Captcha verification. Thankfully, you don’t have to rely on your wits alone to stop spam. Developers have come up with applications and plugins to fight spam, too.
If you have worked with WordPress at all, you have probably noticed the plugin called Akismet. Many users take advantage of this useful program. However, others get so overwhelmed in setting up the rest of their site that they never look into how to use Akismet. That’s a shame, really, since the plugin will help make your site more user-friendly and more appealing to search engines.
What It’s Good For?
Anyone with a message board or any page that accepts comments will immediately recognize the value of Akismet. Annoying spam comments can completely ruin a site’s reputation, and blog readers and genuine comments will rapidly vanish. Akismet essentially runs a check across the web for spam comments reported from other websites and removes them from your site. Obviously, this can save site administrators a substantial amount of time. It will also encourage genuine readers to contribute more. Possibly more importantly, search engines will not identify your site as a hub for spammers.
As with anything else, the algorithm can make mistakes and misidentify comments as spam. On the whole, though, the consensus is that it performs relatively well. Some unidentified spammers will get through, but your site moderators can pick those out by themselves. Akismet does learn, however, so it adapts to the changing strategies of spammers in real time. By reporting spam or misidentified spam to the system, you will be adding to the database’s knowledge, too.
How to Use the Akismet API Key
Before you get started on the actual plugin, you will need an API key from the Akismet site. This will serve as a password for your account, so keep it to yourself. You can always go back to the site to get another one issued if you forget it. To get the key for your site, click on the button that says “Get a WordPress Key.” From here, you will be redirected to a sign-up page. If you are running a blog for personal use, you can just select the free option. Commercial sites should choose one of the paid options, though, according to how much traffic they expect.
After deciding on a plan, you can open a WordPress.com account or use an existing one to get your key. Once you have finished this, you will go back to the Akismet site to confirm the details of your order. Again, if you are not running a commercial site, you can choose the free plan. Now you can get the key and start using the plugin on your WordPress site.
Getting Started with the Plugin
Now that you have your key and have opened up WordPress, you can find Akismet under the Plugin tab. Locate it and activate the Akismet plugin. Now you will see a menu item in WordPress for the plugin. Under “Akismet Configuration,” you can input your API key. Copy and paste will work just fine. You can select the other options according to your personal preferences. The important part is to get the API key pasted into the correct field and get it verified. If your key is valid, you will get a notification confirming it. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to enable Akismet for WordPress.
How to Use Akismet to Your Advantage
With everything properly in place now, you will have access to the information Akismet provides about spam activity on your site. You can check the statistics from the program right on the dashboard. This will show you how many suspected spam messages you have received, among other things. Take a look at it from time to time to confirm that the sequestered messages really are spam. You can also let visitors to your site see the number of messages blocked by the plugin by using Akismet’s widget for WordPress. Whether you do this or not will depend on the nature of your site and the type of visitors you receive.
Part of Your Overall Strategy
Getting this plugin installed will help you get a grip on what is happening on your site. The statistics will also give you insight into the kinds of spam messages your site is attracting. You can use this information to make decisions about other steps to take to discourage spammers and their pesky bots.