Contact forms are great, but sometimes it can be difficult to know how to manage spam enquiries. One option is to use a ‘captcha’ filter, which requires the user to input some words/text that are shown just under the form. This is a very effective way to tackle spam, but it does have one major downside – genuine users don’t like them, and some users find them almost impossible to use. As a result, although you will get rid of 99% of your spam, you may lose some genuine enquiries too, or leave potential clients frustrated with their experience on your website.
A much better solution is to run your contact form enquiries through the Akismet system, which intelligently filters out 99% of spam without needing to use any annoying ‘captcha’ images. You may have heard of Akismet before, particularly if you have used WordPress – this is because Akismet is primarily used for combating ‘comment spam’ on WordPress blogs, and is a very effective solution.
Depending on what form plugin you are using in WordPress, you may find that Akismet integration is already included – this is the case with Gravity Forms, which is what we tend to recommend to most of our clients. It used to be that you would have to make some manual adjustments to your Gravity Forms installation in order to get Akismet integrated, but luckily it’s now built-in, and you just need to enable it. To do this, first install the free Akismet WordPress plugin (you can find this in the WordPress plugin repository), then go to the Akismet website and sign up for an account – prices range from free to $7 per month depending on your requirements. Once you have done this, head back into your WordPress installation and activate your Akismet installation with your licence key. All that’s left to do now is turn it on – hover over ‘Forms’ in your WordPress admin, then click Settings. In here, click on the ‘enable Akismet integration’ option and save your settings.
If you’re still using Contact Form 7 (then upgrade to Gravity Forms, haha!), you can still benefit from Akismet integration, though it’s a little more complex. You can find full instructions on the Contact Form 7 website here.
I’ve been using Akismet for years, and I have only ever had a handful of spam enquiries in all that time – if you have a problem with contact form spam, it’s probably the best solution out there.