Life in the Digital Briar Patch: What happens when you get a Bad Internet Reputation?
If you been around the digital space long enough you know you will learn something new all the time. It is an endless learning cycle and it keeps your instincts sharp as the digital space is still a can of worms as you never know what’s going to happen.
One problem that I have encountered that is growing, is what happens if you get a bad Internet reputation and your domain name is labeled as spam. This bad Internet reputation may be the result of you being hacked and your domain was used for hacker activity. I have heard stories of email providers shutting down your account when the filters think it is spam. This has made the use of email sometimes unreliable, as legitimate emails never get to you. Yeah a phone or text follow-up is 100% reliable.
The spam filters today just not look at the email address it also looks at the content for any suspicious URLs in the message and attachments. So if you have a bad internet reputation they will block it. Spam filters will also look at the bounce rates of your emails as part of the criteria they use to determine if your message was spam. So a high bounce rate is a red flag for the latest spam filters. For example the Gmail spam filter labels some emails promotional now, but not spam and if you are blocked on Gmail you have a big problem as your list may contain 10-20% gmail addresses.
What can you do to remedy this problem?
First you have to identify how bad your reputation on the internet. To see if you have a bad internet reputation there are free tools that allows you to test your email with all the various spam filters that are in the digital ecosystem. I tried out Glockapps and it is a good tool and has a free trial option. This allows you to evaluate your reputation before sending so you can make the appropriate adjustments. The solution offers advice on content structure and the use of links and images.
If your domain is being blocked after this test you have a big problem as your domain name has a bad reputation and you will need to get it whitelisted somehow with all the various spam filters. An impossible task as there are just too many spam filters out there..
The remedy is to transfer your website domain to a new server and then repopulate it on the Internet, but if you have old code you will be still vulnerable to hacker attacks. So always have the latest security patches on your website.
This is a big investment of time and money to transfer your domain, but before you do this there is a white hat workaround and it is to use a different domain or to camouflage the URL with another one that redirects to your website for your emails. You can do this until your Internet reputation improves, but this is only a short-term workaround. But some systems now outright ban the use of this practice. Services like https://tinyurl.com that are used by hackers are now being blocked in some ad ecosystems.
While we all support better security on the internet, spam filter technology still gets it wrong sometimes and the deployment of AI is supposedly raises the bar for reliably, in theory. But I live by the rule that we are only 50% right of the time. It appears the decision making of inclusiveness by security professionals is like the government, by catering to a small segment everybody else suffers the consequences. But there is gotta be a better way to thwart off hacker attacks to your website, unfortunately this is the new normal on the Internet.
About the Author: Marty Seto is the Content Producer for Office Today and has been writing about the internet, digital, media and advertising for the past 10 years. Marty has over 30 years experience in the advertising, publishing and media industries and is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards that just had its 10th anniversary. He considers himself a technology white hat and promotes a safe and transparent digital society free of any stealth capitalism