When you have had your WooCommerce site for a little while, you will start to find that there are “people” who aren’t really people, who will sign up as customers.
These are usually programs that are being run on autopilot by people who are trying to find a way to post information on your site. They might be planning to put comments or reviews on your products, or they might be trying to post on your blog if you have that included in your site. They might also be trying to get onto your mailing list.
There are security packages that will prevent WooCommerce spam sign-ups, or at least slow them down. But there is a trade-off, in that the same measures that can help stop spam sign-ups can also make it more difficult for genuine customers to register on your site.
Plugins to Stop WooCommerce Spam Sign-ups
I had a client a few months ago who was getting maybe 2 WooCommerce spam sign-ups a week. She was very upset about this, so I installed a plugin that added a Captcha to the registration form (I gave her several options, and that was the one she chose). This stopped the spam sign-ups, but unfortunately a couple of weeks later she got a (nasty) email from someone who was trying to register to buy from her and had been unable to solve the captcha. This person had gone elsewhere to buy, and had also (she said) told all her friends not to buy from this site because it was too hard to use. My client was even more upset about losing the customer, so I took the captcha off. The moral of this story is that you need to understand your customers, and how they might feel about whatever measures you take to stop the spam.
This one looks good: Stop Spammers. Since it provides a form for genuine customers who are getting blocked, so they can request access, there is still a way for those who are incorrectly blocked to get in. However, as the plugin description says, spammers who decide to fill out the form will still be able to send you spam, so you need to decide how horrible that would be. Also, your customers might be of the mindset that filling out a form to request to be allowed to buy is just too hard and they might go elsewhere (or worse, tell all their friends not to buy from you like in the previous example). However, this requirement to fill out the form doesn’t happen all the time, only rarely.
I’m liking WangGuard. To install it, you need to register for an account with them, and get an API key. When you enter this into the plugin settings screen, you might get an error message saying there was an error connecting to the WangGuard server. If this happens (this took some figuring out!), go to the WangGuard Settings tab and tick the “Disable secure connection to WangGuard server using SSL / TLS.” box. You can then enter your API key, and then set it all up how you want it.
I have installed this on one of my own WooCOmmerce sites, and will give it a test run. I will edit this post if I find any issues.
WooCommerce Spam Stopper
Another alternative is to use a plugin like WooCommerce Spam Stopper. This will check the IP address of the visitor against a list known spam IPs, and prevent WooCommerce spam sign-ups from people whose IP is on that list. This is not bad, but spammers can do a lot of damage before their IP gets reported and added to that list. Also, there is also the possibility of a genuine customer getting their IP on that list through to over-zealous reporting. This is rare, so I would recommend this plugin as an additional measure once you already have your main spam stopping mechanism in place.
Don’t forget that whatever you choose to help stop WooCommerce Spam Sign-ups, you might slow down the speed at which your site runs. You might also slow the user experience, as the chosen plugin might need to communicate with another site to check IP address or other details.
And of course there is always the possibility that a genuine customer might find it more difficult to sign up to buy from you. You need to decide whether the number of spam sign-ups you are getting really is that annoying, compared with how you would feel if you lost an order as a result of stopping the spam.
If you have had experience with any of these plugins, or others, please let us all know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!