Akismet

Akismet has been blocking WordPress comment spam since 2005. It's easily the best anti-spam plugin you're going to find. We'll show you how to set it up & share some stats that prove it's worth the price.

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  • folder Comments
  • attach_money Free (upgrade available)
  • account_box Automattic Inc.
Akismet Anti-Spam Plugin

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Akismet Anti-Spam WordPress Plugin Review

Akismet blocks spam. Plain & simple. Akismet (pronounced uh•kiz•mit) blocks spam comments with almost no action needed on your part, and no silly math questions or captchas for your visitors to complete. Easy & effective, the way an anti-spam plugin should work.

Akismet Anti-Spam 3-step process
How Akismet works, in a nutshell

If your blog accepts user comments, this is a must-have. It’s been around since 2005, and no other anti-spam plugin compares… especially for WordPress sites.

ALSO: Check out our list of the 10 essential WordPress plugins we install on almost every site.

Akismet is built & maintained by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. There are free & premium options available, and I’m going to walk you through its features, setup, pricing & share some stats on just how effective it is at blocking spam.

Akismet Features

🙅🏼 Anti-Spam

With Akismet, you won’t find a long list of features. This is one of those plugins that does one thing, and does it extraordinarily well. It keeps spam comments off your website. Period.

📊 Spam Statistics

If you run a commercial site, you do need a premium license. But what’s great about Akismet is the stats they provide are proof that it’s worth every penny. You see exactly how many spam comments it’s blocked from your site.

Akismet spam stats overview chart
A brief overview of the spam Akismet has blocked in the past 6 months vs. all-time

Both basic & advanced stats are available right in your WordPress admin area. More advanced stats indicate your spammiest day & year of all time, your average daily spam (compared to legitimate comments from real humans), and the probability that any given comment will end up being spam.

Nothing super-duper useful here, but kinda neat to look at from time to time.

You can also download a .csv file with all of your historical data.

Akismet advanced stats
A look at Akismet’s advanced spam statistics (not available on free accounts)

4️⃣ Display Approved Comments Next to Author

There are just a few additional settings for Akismet, one of which is a simple checkbox to “Show the number of approved comments beside each comment author.”

I haven’t used this option, so I’m not exactly sure what it looks like, but it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Akismet settings & options
Akismet’s only settings

Strictness

Another simple setting, this one could make comment moderation a little easier. You can choose to always put spam in the spam folder (so you can review it), or have Akismet silently delete it so you never even knew it was there.

This is really personal preference, but I like to keep mine in the spam folder just in case a real comment accidentally ends up in there (which rarely happens). Spam is deleted automatically after 15 days.

Privacy & GDPR Compliance

If you are abiding by GDPR rules, or you just care about your user’s privacy, you can enable an option that will display a message below your comment form that explains comment data is being sent to Akismet, and how Akismet uses it.

The message reads:

“This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.”

Akismet GDPR privacy message
Here’s a sample comment form with the privacy notice displayed

That link will always point to akismet.com/privacy, which currently redirects to Automattic’s privacy policy.

Akismet Setup

Akismet simple 3 step setup
Setting up Akismet really is this easy

It’s really just 2 steps:

  1. Sign up for a plan (see pricing below)
  2. Enter your API key on the settings page

After you sign up for a plan on akismet.com, you’ll be directed to your account overview. From here, copy your API key displayed at the top of the screen.

Akismet API key in your account

Next, login to your WordPress admin area. The Akismet settings could be located in a few different places:

  • If you have Jetpack enabled on your site, navigate to Jetpack > Akismet Anti-Spam
  • If you aren’t using Jetpack, I think you’ll find the settings under Settings > Akismet Anti-Spam

If you can’t find the settings page, navigate to your Plugins page and you’ll see this banner at the top of the screen:

Akismet Anti-Spam setup message
Click the blue button to setup your account

The settings page will look the same regardless of how you got there.

Akismet settings page

Simply enter your API key into the field and click Connect with API key.

The couple of settings that appear below are completely optional. For most people, you can stop here and you’re all set.

Akismet Integrations

Any form on your site that collects information is susceptible to spam. In addition to protecting you from comment spam, Akismet integrates with other WordPress plugins to block spam coming in from different sources.

Akismet is integrated with the following WordPress plugins:

If you know of others, please let us know in the comments so we can update this list.

Pricing

Akismet pricing plans
Akismet pricing, as of August 2018

One of the best aspects of Akismet is its pricing. You might think $59/yr. is a lot to spend on spam protection, but once you experience a popular blog with and without it, you’ll quickly appreciate the value you’re getting. See stats below.

NOTE: When creating an account, Akismet will connect you with your WordPress.com account. Make sure you’re logged into the proper account, or just be ready to create a new WordPress.com if you don’t already have one.

Free plan for personal projects

Akismet’s free plan is for personal projects only. If you make money off your website in any way, you need to pay for the Plus plan.

But for personal blogs (with no ads or affiliate links), the free plan is great. You can also name your price and provide a donation to help fight comment spam across the web.

NOTE: Every time Akismet catches spam, it gets better. The more sites that use it, the better it gets. So offering a free plan is tremendously helpful to the improvement of the overall product.

Plus plan for commercial projects & businesses

If your site helps you make money, you need the Plus plan. It will cost you $59/yr/site, but that’s a small price to pay for the heavy lifting that Akismet provides for popular blogs.

You can use the same API key for all sites, and add more sites as you need them. Once you hit the 10 site mark…

Upgrade to an Enterprise plan

The Enterprise plan allows you to use Akismet on unlimited sites. If you want to install Akismet on all of your client’s sites, or run WordPress Multisite with a large network of sites, you’ll probably want the Enterprise plan.

Case Study & Statistics

I’m going to share some of my statistics so you can get an idea of just how much spam Akismet blocks. For reference, here are some basic traffic stats for this blog, where we run Akismet:

  • Avg. Monthly Users: 18,000
  • Avg. Monthly Pageviews: 23,000
  • Posts Accepting Comments: 250

Let’s take a look at spam data for the previous 6 months, as well as lifetime.

Akismet spam stats overview chart
Akismet stats for wpsmackdown.com

4,500 spam comments blocked in the past 6 months. That’s an average of 758 spam comments blocked per month.

I don’t have the exact time frame for the “All Time” stat, but it’s somewhere between 3-4 years. If we call it 3.5 years, that’s an average of 8,500 spam comments block per month.

Why such a difference in the past 6 months vs. All Time? Great question.

Answer: Cloudflare

Before we implemented Cloudflare’s security features, Akismet was blocking ~10,000 spam comments per month. And that was back when our traffic was even less than it is today.

For a semi-popular blog NOT running Cloudfare (or any other type of WAF), you can see the impact that Akismet has. Just imagine if you receive 100,000+ visitors per month!

The image below illustrates what happened before/after we implemented some Cloudflare security in July 2017. The number of spam comments went from thousands to hundreds.

Akismet spam stats, before/after Cloudflare
Akismet spam stats, before & after setting up Cloudflare

Final Thoughts

Comment spam continues to be a huge annoyance, particularly for WordPress sites. As WordPress’ popularity increases, it becomes more of a target for spammers.

There is no perfect solution to completely eliminating spam comments altogether, but Akismet does about as good of a job as any. It’s my #1 recommended anti-spam plugin, and one of my essential tools for any WordPress site that accepts comments.

Support

If you’re curious about support, I have interacted with their team and received fantastic service. They responded with 2 hours. We went back and forth multiple times and resolved everything the same day. I switched my Akismet plan to a different WordPress.com account and they were able to refund my old account for the prorated amount of months that I had left on the old plan.


Are you using Akismet on your site? Would you mind sharing your experience (and some stats) with us? It’d be great to see how larger sites are benefitting from using Akismet.

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