akismet-featuredOne of the most frequent questions we get from clients about their WordPress websites is How do I get rid of the Spam in my WordPress Comments? Many people think their only option is to turn off commenting on their posts. Some even make the mistake of accidentally approving a spam comment in their blog and before they know it, they’re getting hundreds of spam comments a day. They’ve been whitelisted as a spam-friendly site and become a major target for spam bots.

The thought of all of that garbage comment spam out there is enough to make a person sick to their stomach. That’s one of the only drawbacks to using such a popular platform like WordPress. But, fear not, WordPressers, your site comes with a built-in spam protection plugin that will leave you relieved you don’t have to play bad cop to those nasty Viagra ads that appear in your comment list.

All WordPress installations come with a plugin called Akismet. We love it so much, we have no need to provide any alternatives to our clients. To use Akismet, you have to create an account and enter a license key (free or paid) to activate the plugin, so I’ll walk you through the steps to do this so you can be spam-free in no time.

Steps to Activate and Register Akismet for WordPress

  1.  Make sure you have the Akismet Plugin installed. When you’re logged into the back end of your website, click on the Plugins menu > Installed Plugins. Akismet should be at or near the top of the alphabetical list. (Note, In WordPress version 3.8 or newer, Akismet has its own link on the flyout when you click “Plugins”.) Be sure it’s listed as Active. If not, activate it. If you don’t see it on the plugin list, search for the plugin and install it.
  2. Register with Akismet.
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    After you’ve made sure Akismet is installed and active, click on the “Settings” link. You’ll be taken to a page of Akismet settings. If you need an API key, click the link to obtain one. You’ll be taken to Akismet’s homepage. Click to “Get an Akismet API key”. Akismet will ask you to create or sign into your WordPress.com account. WARNING! Note that there is a difference between a WordPress.com account and your self-hosted WordPress installation. If you are confused about the difference, see this article and read the bullet titled, “Self-Hosted”. If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, filling out this form will create one for you. Do NOT use your WordPress admin login for your self-hosted website. If you already have an account, click the link that says, “I already have a WordPress.com account!” and enter your login. Phew! Did you make it through that? Now, follow the links through Akismet to obtain a key. You should eventually arrive at a screen that asks you to enter the URL you wish to use Akismet on and to select a plan.

  3. Select a Plan. Read the screen that asks you to select a plan carefully. You’ll notice some business accounts and a personal plan that is priced between $0-120. This plan asks you how much you want to pay/can afford. All plans will work with any type of website, so use your discretion as to which plan you choose. Follow the prompts through and you’ll receive your API license code.
  4. Enter the API Code. Go back to the Akismet settings screen and enter your API code. Save changes. You should be notified that your key is valid. Now Akismet is all set up!

Start Fighting Spam

There shouldn’t be anything else you need to do for Akismet to start fighting spam. After installation, it’s a good idea to check the Akismet stats to find how much spam it found in your existing site. Go to your WordPress administration and click “Dashboard > Akismet Stats”. You should see how much its detected and some other interesting stats. If you think Akismet has mis-categorized anything, you can go to your comments page and approve or unapprove what it has selected. I find that it’s usually 100% accurate and don’t ever have to touch what its done. You can really set it up and never have to worry about comment spam again!

Author: Kelly Garrett

Kelly is a connoisseur of all things marketing, tech, and design. As someone who fluidly transitions between the creative aspects of design and the technical requirements of online marketing, she’s able to solve complex puzzles to achieve a polished, cohesive look, strategy, and execution through her boutique agency, Ekcetera Design & Marketing's services.