There is nothing worse than figuring out that your contact form (or any other form) has been flooded with spam entries. This is a massive waste of time and, unfortunately, something every website owner has to deal with at some point.
Checking for form spam doesn’t just waste your time, and it also hurts your resources, especially if you have a limited number of forms for your free or paid plan.
Not to mention that it takes time and effort to turn your back on qualified customers and those who need to contact you.
And if you don’t take the time to clean up (and ultimately stop) spam submissions, you risk harming your brand name’s reputation when those spam messages show up on the front end of your website for Visitors to see.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat this and make your life a little easier. After all, there are things we’d all rather be doing than dealing with a form spam situation gone wrong.
So, let’s get started! ?
What is form spam?
Technically, form spam is when malicious organizations or secondary actors send unsolicited information via online forms to send phishing or abusive messages.
In simpler terms, form spam occurs when unsolicited messages are sent via forms on your website (and sometimes via the front end of your website), often without you realizing it.
Why does form spam exist?
You might think that form spam shouldn’t be a problem these days. After all, traditional email spam is mainly under control, thanks to advanced spam filters that block spam messages.
However, web forms have not yet reached that point, and spam still affects web forms in the form of junk messages and unimportant web links.
Moreover, form spam still exists since it functions.
Such as, spammers look for vulnerabilities in your website forms so they can hijack them and use them to send spam messages to others.
These emails end up in recipients’ inboxes, looking like emails you might send. Visitors unknowingly open your website and even click on it, only to be taken to a completely different website. The spammer benefits from the increased traffic and engagement on the website.
In addition, spammers try to exploit any web form on your website to post their messages with hyperlinks to other websites and products to gain link equity and improve search engine optimization.
An excellent example of this is when a website owner allows comments to be automatically published.
How Does Form Spam Work?
Well, you already know that form spam is a problem you need to get a handle on. But I think if you understand how to form spam works, you will better understand how to stop it.
Form spam can happen in two ways:
1. Manual spam.
Manual spam occurs when people hired by companies manually fill out web forms, which can be found all over the internet, with information that links to companies that need link juice.
This type of form of spam is the most difficult to combat, as human spammers can bypass most (if not all) anti–spam measures that can be put in place.
However, it is also a time-consuming process, so unless your website is viral (in which case kudos to you ? ), chances are it will never fall victim to manual form spam.
spambot spam occurs when programs are created to search the internet for web forms and fill them in, mainly hoping that the message will appear somewhere on the website.
A feedback or referral form that allows messages to be automatically posted on your website without permission may contain this type of spam, along with junk text and hyperlinks that lead to other websites.
This type of spam is easier to combat because spam bots are not human and find it challenging to overcome some more advanced anti–spam measures. However, this does not make them any less harmful. Some spambots even try to inject scripts into your website to hijack it or leave invisible links and gain an SEO advantage.
What’s more, the spammers who run the spambots don’t care if you can stop them. spambots are so powerful that they can access millions of websites every day, and they can find a vulnerability at any time, exploit it and get their reward.
So how can you prevent form spam? It just so happens that I have a whole arsenal of tips and tricks that you can start using today.
5 Ways to Stop Form spam
If you want to combat form spam, you must do everything in your power to make it difficult, if not impossible, for automated bots to fill out your forms.
At the same time, you also need to strike a balance and make your website forms as easy as possible for website Visitors to fill out.
1. Use contact forms (not email addresses).
Your online business contact information probably includes an email address and the physical address/office address, a phone number, and social networking icons. And your customers are probably excited because this way, they can contact you or your team directly.
However, if you want to remove as much spam as possible, the first thing you should do is remove this email address from your website.
This is because spambots patrolling websites looking for forms are also looking for email addresses that they can collect and use as spam for others. Of course, you can always fight spambots by using a WordPress plugin like email Address Encoder to protect your email addresses and mail to links.
2. Use Google re CAPTCHA
You may not know it, but a few years ago, Google officially did away with CAPTCHA.
Don’t know what CAPTCHA is? You’re in luck.
The concept behind CAPTCHA was genius. Designed to protect websites from spambots by generating tests that users had to respond to before submitting an online form, these programs were a surefire way to prevent form spam.
At least for a while.
But soon, there were problems with Google’s famous CAPTCHA:
- Annoying website Visitors who had difficulty answering the question or entering the correct text.
- spambots are learning to bypass CAPTCHA and spamming forms.
- Decrease in form conversions by up to 3%.
- It is becoming increasingly difficult to see or hear, especially for hearing or visual impairments or other problems.
This is a disaster for the user.
In response to the increasing difficulties that CAPTCHAs were causing, Google developed a new solution called re CAPTCHA.
Already using stopwebformspam on your website? Nice work! ?
3. Use The honeypot Method
If you are not a fan of CAPTCHA or re CAPTCHA, you can use the honeypot method instead.
A honeypot is a small code designed to thwart spambots by displaying hidden form fields only to them. These codes perform two tasks.
Deceive spambots: honeypots display fake form fields for spambots to fill in. Since the spambot is not human, it simply fills in all the form fields and clicks submit. If this happens, the form is automatically marked as spam and rejected, so there is no need for action.
Invisible to humans: honeypots can be made invisible to human users so that they do not know that there are fake form fields. This means that the user is not disrupted when filling out the form, and conversion rates soar.
4. No links
Do you want to know one of the easiest ways to prevent form spam?
Ban links to comments and forms on your blog. This won’t eliminate all forms of spam, but it will certainly help, especially against manual spammers who try to type links into messages and send them to your site.
An excellent way to do this in the WordPress comments section is to use the ‘Perfmatters’ WordPress plugin.
5. Do not allow users to submit information directly to your website.
Online forms are a way of collecting information about Visitors that appear on your website. Therefore, if you want to prevent spam on your website, we recommend creating a form that asks for testimonials and asks customers for feedback. This way, you can prevent customers from complaining about your service in the wrong places on your website (e.g., blog posts).
Final Thoughts: The Right Way to Handle Form spam
Ultimately, there is no perfect solution to entirely prevent spam on your website, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it.
If you need to request cleanup you can contact the StopWebFormSpam support team.
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