Contact Forms and Spam entries.


Is it possible to stop spam on contact forms?

No. The only way to stop your contact form attracting spam is to remove the form or make the webpage impossible to find.

But you can reduce it, and the best method to use depends on the attractiveness of your website, its visibility in the search engines and volume of traffic.

You will get much more spam if your website is:

  • Very visible to Google
  • Has high volume of traffic
  • Has obvious contact forms
  • Is in a popular market

There are different ways that spam is generated, and these need different solutions.

  • From spambots
  • Manual targeting followed by spambots
  • Completely manual targeting

Automated spambots can be stopped quite easily using techniques such as honeypots and simple user questions on the contact form, or maybe a simple type of captcha which requires the user to enter details before proceeding.  Adding anything which impacts a real user will reduce conversion rates, so this must be done carefully. For marketing websites with a high emphasis on new leads then the better solution may be to have minimal spam prevention and filter the spam afterwards. For websites such as forums it is generally better to use more caution as the attacks will be more sustained whilst the spammer tries to get content with links onto your website.

When a website is protected from automatic spamming, then if it is highly ranked it may get crawled by real spammers, seeking a way of learning how to fill the form in. Once this has been learnt the technique is automated and programmed as a spambot. The best form of defence here is to have variation and not use a standard form as this makes the time to get around the spam prevention measures not worth it. We regularly find spammers trying to find their way through a contact form and then need to increase the spam defences. Why not start with highest level of defence? Because this decreases the genuine conversion rate of the contact form.

There is also virtually nothing that can be done for manual spammers, when people are paid per contact form filled in with a link to some dubious website in the comment section. You can reduce this by ensuring all links are made safe, and contact form content is not sent back to the quote email address. Clever spammers will then deduce there is nothing to be gained and go away, but not all are so clever.

Our recommendations for contact forms on websites are:

  • Ensure no benefit is obtained for the spammer by including website links or email addresses in any comment field of a form
  • For obtaining marketing leads resort to captcha type devices only when needed
  • For adding any form of comment or forum posting ensure you do have registration with a recaptcha type device to reduce spam
  • Avoid standard solutions but add variations to all contact forms as this makes the spammers life more difficult.

And when you receive spam, you at least know your website is easily found on the Internet. Many of those who say they don’t get much spam actually don’t get many website visitors.

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