How to Keep Bots from Contacting You

  1. Use a contact form with captcha  01:09
  2. Put your number and email in an image 02:13
  3. Use CSS to Add Phone and Email using the “content” declaration and the before and after pseudo classes  04:00

Read the full episode transcript below:

00:28 David Blackmon: Welcome to another episode of WP The Podcast, my name is David Blackmon.

00:35 Tim Strifler: And i’m Tim Strifler

00:38 David Blackmon: And today we’re going to talk about how to best protect yourself against bots that may be spamming you in your email or spamming you on your telephone. Believe it or not, you shouldn’t just be throwing your email and phone number on your website, because that’s how a lot of these spam companies harvest your data and then sell it to third-party companies and stuff. So Tim’s going to talk about the first way.

01:09 Tim Strifler: So as David mentioned bots will scrape your website and pull your phone number and your email address off of it and you can get a lot of spam that way. So the absolute best way is to not have it on there at all, but instead use a contact form. Instead of having your phone number and email visible you use a contact form and have people put in their name and their email in a message that gets sent to you and then you can call them or email them that way. That’s the absolute best way, however if you just put up a contact form you’re gonna get contact form spam. So what you need to do is add captcha, right? So every single form plug-in out there has a at least one method of captcha. Most of them have several different options there’s different forms and stuff of using captcha, and so that will prevent spam. Um by using a a captcha service um on your contact form. So that’s in my opinion the best way. But sometimes you might want maybe if your target audience is a little less tech savvy and so you want to actually have a visible email address or in a visible phone number, then these additional two methods are going to help. So Dave i’ll talk about the next on.

02:13 David Blackmon: Yeah so you’re a services company you’re in a small town and you want people to call you that’s your primary method of contact. You want them to call your telephone number so that they can schedule an appointment and you can go out and service this customer. Well as Tim stated if you just put your phone number on your website bots are going to harvest that and you’re going to start getting a lot of spam calls, and people don’t realize “man why am i all of a sudden getting all of these phone calls on my cell phone my business cell phone how in the heck are they getting this?”. Well, they’re getting it from your website. If you’re not doing these things. So one thing that you can do is put your phone number on your website. Most people want it prominent in the header on the home page and maybe even in the header of every page on your website and it’s very simple to do. Just create an image with your phone number in the image. Now it’s not going to be clickable, they’re not going to be able to click it from their phone.. actually in today’s technology they may actually be able to because every time i click an image that has text in it and phone numbers now my phone locks onto that and recognizes it. So maybe even back in the day you didn’t have to you know it wasn’t clickable, but it very well made just depending on what phone you have. Now um but the most important thing is is bots can’t harvest that data in an image and it’s easy for people to type in your phone number they got their phone. They’re just going to hit it and call you so put your number and email in an image and then put that on your website as opposed to typing it in as text.

04:00 Tim Strifler: Yeah absolutely. So uh the the next method it’s a lot more technical than what David described, and that’s using CSS to actually add the phone and email instead of having it directly on the page. Because when it’s on the page it’s in the html and a bot reads html scans the html and that’s how it harvests it. But it’s not if it’s not actually in the html, but it’s added with CSS instead. It’ll be on the page as text even though the text hasn’t been added via html. It’s pretty technical but if you’re competent with css then it won’t be too bad, but basically you add in the html you just have a class for phone and for email and then with css using the content declaration, i think that’s right word. Using content and then along with the before and after pseudo classes you add part of the phone number via before with content and then you add the second half with uh after. And so it’s never even in your css altogether, it’s broken up into before and after and so and then it’s added via css. So you do the same thing with the phone you do the same thing with the email, so then on the page it looks normal as if it was just text within html even though it’s added via css. So css lets you add text um via the content declaration. So it’s it’s kind of technical, it’s a lot harder to describe than actually to just do it, and see it. Um so i promise you it’s it’s not uh it’s not complicated. I’m gonna put a short article in the show notes from a random blog post that I found, that describes how to do this. And so um that way you can uh you can click on and you can copy and paste the html and css and add it to your to your website so nice. Oh one last thing is Cloudflare. If you use Cloudflare which i highly recommend that you do, Cloudflare has a lot of security features and it’ll block bots naturally not even just specifically from scraping but just it’ll block a lot of bots from even coming to your site at all. And so if you use Cloudflare um it will help a lot from even if you don’t do anything. So definitely um do Cloudflare and then cuffler does have some additional bot uh tools built in to keep bots from doing things like scraping and stuff like that. So um yeah definitely check out Cloudflare.

06:32 David Blackmon: Awesome. Tomorrow we’ve got another great episode, we’re going to talk about a plug-in highlight and we’re going to recommend connecting your WordPress website with Sendgrid, uh and that right Tim, i mean yes yeah Sendgrid for emails. Um until tomorrow we’ll see you then.

06:58 Tim Strifler: Take care, bye.

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