CleanTalk is a cloud-based solution for preventing spam on your WordPress based website, I have talked about using this plugin before here on WPLift. Since then it has received updates with new features, the latest being the addition of a new Firewall which works to stop spam bots even being able to visit your site which will help bring down server loads and adds a new tool to your arsenal in the ongoing fight against Comment spam, trackback spam and contact form spam.
CleanTalk is a cloud-based service which has a free 14 day trial, after which the service costs just $8 per year – a bargain I'm sure you will agree, but does it work ? Let’s take a look.
How Spam FireWall works?
The new feature in this version of CleanTalk is an active firewall which will help prevent spam bots even being able to visit your site - this is designed to help prevent spam on your WordPress site, but can also help speed it up by preventing these bots creating a burdon on your hosting with calls to the database and server. With the plugin installed, when a visitor hots your site, their IP details are checked against CleanTalk's database of over 5.8million spam IPs. If a match is found and the visitor is a spam bot, they will be blocked and the visitor will get a blank page.
CleanTalk’s Spam FireWall Features
- Protection from spam bots without access to the web site. Spam FireWall blocks most of the spam bots before they load the page of the website.
- Reducing the load on a web server. In order to post spam, many spam bots load the page, this creates a burden on the database and the server, and when a large amount of spam attacks it can have a significant impact on the performance of the website.
- Protection against HTTP/HTTPS DDoS attacks. This is one of the most common types of DDoS attacks with the aim to load a web server so that it was not able to handle all other requests.
- Protection against RPC-XML attacks. One of the most common types of attacks on sites running WordPress in order to pick up the username and password of the administrator of the web site or to organize DDoS attacks. Spam FireWall’s SQL Protection provides an affordable, automated solution for protecting from a variety of SQL injection attacks.
- Spam FireWall’s logs allows you to monitor the service work and reporting all incidents.
- Installation for 60 sec does not require modification of configuration files and others.
- Spam FireWall is available for web sites on WordPress and Joomla
Spam bots messages (comments) are often disguised as ordinary users posts, but contain advertising links or text. The main objectives of such messages are the translation of the user to a malicious resource, advertisement, or by placing links to raise the position of their site in the SERPS. This compromises your site and can spoil your reputation with the search engines and lower your ranking. That is why you need reliable protection from spam bots.
Full Plugin Features
This is a very comprehensive plugin / service so lets take a look at the full run-down of what is included.
- Comments spam protection - Supports native WordPress, JetPack comments and any other comments plugins. Plugin moves spam comments to SPAM folder or you can set options to silently ban spam comments. You can enable options in the plugin settings to auto delete comments from SPAM folder.
- Spam bots registrations filter - Filters spam bots on registration forms WordPress, BuddyPress, bbPress, S2Member, WooCommerce, Profile builder and any other registrations plugins.
- Protection against contact form spam - Plugin is tested and ready to protect against spam emails via Formidable forms, Contact form 7, JetPack Contact form, Fast Secure Contact form, Ninja forms, Landing pages, Gravity forms and any themes/custom contact forms.
- WooCommerce spam filter - Anti-spam by CleanTalk filters spam registrations and spam reviews for WooCommerce. Plugin is fully compatible with WooCommerce 2.1 and higher.
- Newsletters filter - Anti-spam by CleanTalk filters spam subscriptions for MailPoet, MailChimp, PopupAlly and many other newsletters plugins.
- Spam filter for themes contact forms - Plugin blocks spam emails via any themes (built-in) contact forms. With AJAX forms plugin silently (without any error notices on WordPress frontend) filters spam emails.
- Compatible with WordPress cache plugins - W3 Total Cache, Quick Cache, WP Fastest Cache, Hyper Cache, WP Super cache and any other cache plugins.
- Check existing comments for spam. Bulk comment removal - With the help of anti-spam by CleanTalk you can check existing comments to find and quickly delete spam comments at once. To use this function, go to WP Console->Comments->Find spam comments.
- Check existing users for spam. Bulk account removal - With the help of anti-spam by CleanTalk you can check existing accounts to find and quickly delete spam users at once. For use this function, go to WP Console->Users->Check for spam.
- Low false/positive rate - This plugin uses multiple anti-spam tests to filter spam bots with as lower false/positive rate as possible. Multiple anti-spam tests avoid false/positive blocks for real website visitors even if one of the tests fail.
- How CleanTalk improves SEO for your website? - So, you already know that the speed of the site has a direct impact on SEO. CleanTalk works faster than most of the other anti-spam plugins. It is common knowledge that the faster your site loads, the better your customer experience is, the better your SEO will be, and the better your site will convert. Speed is becoming increasingly important in SEO, conversion and user experience. Today, site speed is one of the most important ranking factors on Google. A site that loads slowly will lose visitors and potential revenue.
Setting up The Plugin
To use the CleanTalk plugin, you should first create yourself an account on their website here. You will then have a login emailed to you and you can grab your access key which is required to use the plugin. Download the plugin from the official directory here, activate it and then visit "Settings" > "CleanTalk" to configure the plugin on your site.
You can see you will need to enter the access key at the top of the plugin settings page and then underneath you will see a box to tick named "Spam Firewall" this is required to use the new Firewall feature which will block spammers from ever reaching your site.
The plugin has an "Advanced Settings" area where you can configure a lot more options for it. You can choose which areas of your site to use the plugin on, automatically delete spam comments, protect external forms and so on.
Once the plugin is up and running on your site, you can monitor the stats via their website where it will show you a graph of spam comments blocked and legitimate comments which are allowed.
If you want more info, you can then click through to detailed logs which list all the comments and whether they were approved or denied.
You can also expand each one to see the exact reason it was blocked:
CleanTalk works very well - in the times I have tested it, it does a better job than Akismet in blocking spam messages which seems to be able to catch most automated bots but doesn't do a very good job against people posting spam manually which can be a real problem with larger sites. The new Firewall feature is certainly welcomed, the times my server gets hammered is always down to spam bots so anything that help prevent this is a big plus. The fact that their IP database of known spam bots is ever-growing is also reassuring, all the sites using it ( over 120k currently ) can work together to block spam across all the sites.
The plugin setup to is really easy and I like the fact that it covers comment spam, but also protects contact forms and registration forms.
If spam is becoming a problem on your site, I definitely recommend you take a look at CleanTalk, the free 14 day trial period should be more than enough for you to evaluate it before deciding to purchase a paid plan.