What’s Up With Those Spammy Form Entries on My Website?!

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Hi, it’s Michele with Bergh Consulting, and I wanted to do a quick video about contact forms. We are seeing an increase internet wide, not just with myself or my clients, in people using contact forms, similar to this one here on your screen to advertise their own services. So they’re filling out their contact information and then they’re putting some sort of advertisement in this box where they’re able to type whatever they want to type. I am not sure if those advertisements are real or if they are scams, but I think anyone who would advertise this way is sketchy at best. I don’t think it’s an appropriate way to reach out to a company and try to sell your services. So I would avoid them at all costs. It’s just not a good way to do business.

And the unfortunate piece is that people using these forms in this manner are creating confusion and filling up inboxes, and it’s just really an inconvenience. So I’ve been recommending a couple of different direction for clients depending on their business, and their needs and their comfort level. So, first and foremost, I do prefer a contact form to be on a website, particularly if you have a lot of people trying to reach you through your website because it’s easy. If you only have your email address, they sure can copy and paste that into their own email program. But what I find is that most people tend to just try to click on that email address, and then if they don’t have a system set up in the device that they’re using, if I’m on my computer and I click on somebody’s email address, it tries to open an email system on my computer that I don’t use. So it never works right for me. And I know that others experience this as well.

It’s a little bit easier on a telephone or a mobile device because those tend to give you options as to how you want to handle the item you just clicked on. I find if I’m on my phone, then I’m able to click on an option for Gmail and that makes it nice and easy. But that’s why I prefer a form over an email address. If that’s not a concern for you, it’s very simple just to stop having forms on your website and go to an email address structure for people reaching out to you. I did not recommend this in the past because robots would scan websites looking for valid email addresses, and then start using them in ways we don’t want them used. But if you’re a client of mine, I now have installed an encoder, email encoder, so that they can’t easily do that. And so I’m not as reserved about people having their email addresses on their website as I once was. If you prefer that route and that’s easy for you, that is definitely one option. That’s a solid option. Just remove the contact forms and just have your email address available.

The other option is to change up your form. And I have done that on some of my own forms and just about stopped those issues. This is one that I hadn’t done yet, but it doesn’t seem to be getting as much spam, so it’s kind of taken a back seat for me. But this field is the problem. Any field where they can type whatever they want, they’re going to use it to advertise to you. So my suggestion is to avoid any kind of field like this on a contact form, if you can. What I did on one form that I had was I changed this question into more of a dropdown, how can we help you? And I had, I’m interested in this service, I’m having problems with something, or I need help with this, and then and just an other option. So at least it gives them a way to reach out and give you a general idea of why they’re reaching out, and then you can follow up from there.

That may not be ideal for all businesses. It’s really something you have to measure out, whether it’s going to be an irritant to them that they can’t tell you exactly what they need in more detail, or whether it will work fine for you and then make a decision accordingly. So again, my suggestion is to remove this type of a field from any form that you have, if you can. You can remove all forms and go with just your email address on your website. And then there are a couple of plugins that help reduce the number of spam that you get filled out here. One is a captcha, recaptcha type thing where they have to verify that they’re an adult and they’re kind of irritating. So people don’t tend to use those types of forms that have those for spamming. The problem with that is they’re just as irritating for you and I, or somebody trying to fill out your form as it is for somebody who shouldn’t be trying to fill out your form.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have that recaptcha in particular has tightened up their strings, and I have not had to fill out fewer than six pages of click on the boxes with a boat, click on the boxes with a bike, keep clicking until there are non-visible. It’s six rounds of that to get into a form or to log into some websites that have that feature. And it’s really frustrating. And if I could, I would stop using those websites and services because it’s just so frustrating to try to go through that process. So it is a solution. It’s not one that I recommend. And then there’s a couple of plugins that don’t really add anything to the form, but help with some of that. And I’ve tried a couple of different ones. Clean Talk is one. But I found that it let a lot through, because I think that they’re real people filling out the forms. And so somehow they have figured out how to get around those plugins and still submit contact forms.

So if you’re having any problems with your forms on your website, this gives you a few options to consider, depending again, on your business. If it’s something that you need help with, please feel free to reach out and we can talk about what that might look like. Thanks for watching.

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