How to Increase Domain Reputation with SPF
Is your email open rate decreasing? Noticing a higher bounce rate? This could be due to various SEO reasons, but domain reputation is often a significant factor. Does email security play a role? How? And what can you do in this context to increase domain reputation?
We answer these questions and discuss ways to increase domain reputation using SPF or the Sender Policy Framework protocol. If you don’t know already, you can find out what SPF is for a better understanding. In short, it’s an email authentication standard which uses DNS records to specify the hostnames and IP addresses permitted to send mail from a specific domain.
Still, a domain with a poor reputation can negatively affect email deliverability. Before we get into it, let’s look at what ‘domain reputation’ means.
What is Domain Reputation?
A domain reputation has many deciding factors that indicate the trustworthiness and credibility of a domain, according to search engines. Knowing how to increase domain reputation is vital for search engine optimization or SEO, significantly impacting digital marketing and sales efforts.
You can’t buy or transfer a domain reputation; you have to earn it. Domain reputation is directly proportionate to sender reputation and email deliverability. Primarily, there are three types of domains used while sending emails. To improve email domain reputation, you must understand which domains are considered by ESPs to evaluate sending domain reputation.
The ‘From Address’ is the domain address displayed to a recipient on receiving an email. The recipient uses this address to reply if no reply-to email address is defined. You must keep the ‘From Address’ associated with your primary domain.
The Return-Path Domain isn’t visible but is set in the email header. This is where the recipient’s email server sends bounce replies. Email service providers typically set this to default, but custom return-path addresses are also available.
Creating an SPF record and implementing DMARC allows ISPs to validate the return-path domain against the sending domain, thus improving domain reputation and reducing phishing and spoofing attacks.
DKIM Signing Domain
When implemented, this domain has an encrypted public key used by ISPs to decrypt DKIM signatures for email authentication. It acts like a digital signature within the DKIM protocol, so it’s best to use your domain.
The above influence trustworthiness, so you must manage them properly to improve email domain reputation.
What are the Common Factors Influencing Your Domain Reputation?
Websites with good standing are considered safe, credible, and trustworthy by search engines like Google and Yahoo! Thus, increasing domain reputation is essential. Here are some major contributing factors:
- Domain’s age.
- The number and quality of inbound links.
- The anchor text of inbound links.
- The quality of websites’ content.
- The historical data associated with your domain.
Email Authentication and Domain Reputation
Increasing domain reputation includes email authentication—techniques and protocols meant to verify the authenticity of emails. Verifiable information is used to check the origin of emails by validating the domain ownership.
The primary email with SMTP (Sender Mail Transfer Protocol) lacks verification features and thus can be easily exploited. That’s why email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC have been adopted worldwide to avert phishing, spamming, spoofing, and other email-based cyberattacks. Adding an SPF record to your DNS helps recipient servers detect forged senders by specifying IP addresses authorized to send emails for a domain.
Over time, your domain’s reputation is created among email and internet service providers. However, your domain reputation remains low if your emails aren’t validated. The factors influencing it include how often recipients mark your email as spam and the number of bounced emails.
But if you’re using the SPF protocol, only emails with validated IPs are delivered to the recipient’s inbox. So, malicious actors can’t send fraudulent emails without such emails being identified as unauthorized. This helps improve email domain reputation.
Once you know how an SPF record works, you can set one up, but the SPF standard is best used in conjunction with DKIM and DMARC for significantly improved email security.
SPF Record Implementation and Domain Reputation
SPF works by using a DNS TXT record to specify a list of IPs allowed to send emails using a specific domain. SPF authentication fails if the sender’s IP address isn’t included in the list.
You can check your SPF records for multiple IPs and see if an unregistered entity has used your domain without your consent. After you’ve generated an SPF record, the authentication process begins at the recipient’s end, and the return path address is verified. This helps verify whether a sender’s IP address is registered in the SPF records.
Upon approval, the email is delivered to the ‘inbox’; otherwise, it’ll be labelled as ‘spam’.Sometimes, a receiver’s mailbox will reject such an email.
It’s essential to check your SPF records to improve your email domain reputation regularly. By using email verification techniques, you’re signalling your trustworthiness to ISPs, therefore boosting your overall domain reputation.
An SPF record allows your mail server to deliver emails without fail, so they won’t bounce back or land in the ‘spam’ folder. Its most significant benefit is preventing bad actors from compromising your account and sending fraudulent emails in your name.
EasyDMARC can help improve your domain reputation. Use our specialized EasySPF tool and contact you if you need help implementing SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.
Next Steps to Better Domain Standing
Domain reputation is about the trustworthiness and credibility of your domain according to search engines like Google and Yahoo!. It’s vital to increase domain reputation since it impacts your SEO ranking.
Hackers often exploit business domain names to send fake emails, which can adversely affect domain reputation and cause emails to reflect in the spam folder or bounce back.
As such, all important and genuine emails (related to sales, order confirmations, inquiries, notifications, etc.) also end up in the spam folder. This will break the communication and trust between your customers and prospects.
That’s why implementing SPF is vital. It tells ESPs, and ISPs that only authorized hostnames or IP addresses can send emails from your business domain, thereby improving trustworthiness and reputation.
But SPF alone is insufficient. As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated, organizations must protect their domains with watertight protocols. By implementing SPF together with DKIM and DMARC, you’ll not only boost domain security but domain reputation too. Contact us today to find out more.