Website Spam Can Slow Down Your Website
If you have ever had issues with website spam, you know that it can be annoying. However, did you ever think about how it could possibly affect your website’s performance? Web spam can indeed have a major effect. With Google’s algorithm taking your website’s speed into consideration when generating rankings, a decrease in website performance can be decidedly negative. How does a spam bot work? Why do they spam? How can you prevent your website from falling victim to annoying spam bots? All are good questions to ask and answer when you use a web form on your website.
Website spambots are persistent and will always be a consideration for website developers. Spambots persist because they’re fully automated and take little to no manual effort to launch. Initially, website crawlers find websites that can be exploited by spambots. These crawlers target the signatures of common website software like WordPress, phpBB, or Joomla most likely to have a web form for user input. Then they database URLs that have web forms and sell that information to spammers. The spammers take the database of URLs and insert it into software that then fills out every single web form on those URLs and submits the input. Then you wake up in the morning to a ton of spam on your website, in your email and in your database. Why!? Why would someone spam your website?
Spam pays. That is the simple answer. Spamming one website would not create much value for a spammer, but if you think on a global scale, you can see how 100,000 web form submissions could yield positive results. It is cheap and effective advertising when done well.
Their goal is to:
- Establish a back-link for search engine ranking increases
- Get one of your users to click the link
- Establish branding across the internet.
Before the Google Penguin 1.1 update on May 25, 2012 spambots were kings of the internet. After Penguin 1.1, now Google only gives credit for well established back-links on reputable websites, but before Penguin 1.1 Google did not have any standard for what a good back-link was. Google’s Penguin 1.1 had a huge effect on spam, but some spam bots can still sniff out areas to post good back-links. Even still, today’s spambots are persistent enough to slow down thousands of websites on the internet. With the threat of spammers still apparent, why should you be concerned about it?
Besides the annoyance of spam cluttering up your inbox and form submission data, website spam can drastically decrease the performance of your website if left unchecked. Many web forms are not just a simple mailer form, where the user enters data and the data is sent straight to email. Many web forms take the data, store it in a database or somewhere on the server’s disk before an email notification is sent. As more of the website’s server disk space is used, the longer it takes the disk to sift through the data and find the correct data to load for the users. Google takes into account how well your website performs for users when they crawl your website for ranking purposes. This equates to spam causing harm to your website’s ranking. It is very important that you take precautions to protect your website from spam.
CAPTCHA is a word that you hear often today and it relates to an anti-spam method in which a user inputs characters from an auto generated image. CAPTCHA is a decent anti-spam method and will eliminate about 80% of all spam. There are a few spambots that can surpass the CAPTCHA method, which is why you should never use only one method to eliminate spam.
I have found another good method to eliminate the other 20% of spam. Create a hidden checkbox, when checked, prevents the form from submitting. Users will not see this checkbox, but a spambot does not have eyes and scans the code for areas to input data. Spambots will check the box and prevent themselves from submitting the form.
Google’s free reCAPTCHA service acts just like a CAPTCHA does in a web form where a user inputs the characters displayed in an image. Additionally, Google takes the inputted user data and run it through algorithms that use datasets to improve the CAPTCHA generator. reCAPTCHA is one of the best methods you can use to fight against spam.
Akismet is a low cost anti-spam service that easily integrates easily with the major content management systems in use today. Akismet checks all user submitted data on a website and if it looks like spam, it will be eliminated. Akismet is 100% effective in detecting and removing spam from your website.
Whatever method you choose to use, make sure that you are protecting your website from spam. If you choose not to, you will find yourself annoyed, with your website performance decreasing and your website losing credibility. Don’t let spammers take advantage of your unsecured web forms and show spammers that you mean business.