I realize there is plenty of advice online regarding this topic but this is one area where you can’t have too much advice so I’ll tell you my short story about how I cut the amount of spam I receive by about 75%.
It finally got to me last week. I’ve been dealing with about 200 to 1000 spam emails coming in each day and just filtering it using Mailwasher (aff) was turning into a job taking an hour or so a day – that’s what I call time wastage! The problem is most of it was coming to @betteredit.com email accounts which have been around for many years now since the website is nearly 6 years old. That’s a long time for the SPAM bots to get a hold of the domain name for spoofing and spamming.
Another problem was that I have the admin@ and yaro@ BetterEdit email addresses splattered on websites all over the place. The admin@ address was also the main BetterEdit email for all jobs and customer queries and had been so for the last 5 years. I was worried about changing it since so many clients are used to the email address.
I investigated my hosting control panel to see whether I could set up the appropriate mail bounce autoresponse and redirection process so as to minimize the risk of lost client emails and slowly phase out the current BetterEdit email accounts and set up new fresh ones. My PLESK control panel/hosting admin system once again delivered.
Here is exactly what I did.
- I set up the new main email address for BetterEdit (contact@)
- I set up a bounce message to go to anyone who emailed the addresses I was phasing out (yaro@ and admin@). If any real people sent email to the old addresses the bounce message would tell them about the change of emails address.
- For the same two email accounts I am phasing out (yaro@ and admin@) I ensured that the email would also be redirected to the new addresses (contact@ for admin and yaroATblogtrafficking.com yaro). That means that any email sent to the old address is not lost since it is redirected to my new accounts plus any real people get notified of the change of address from the bounce message. I will eventually remove the redirects after a few months once I am sure everyone has realized the email accounts have changed. I want to keep monitoring the old addresses for a while yet just in case.
That ensured the switch to new email accounts was complete. Now the next step – and I think is why the real spam reduction took place, so pay attention and do this yourself – was to encode all the email addresses I publicly place on my websites. To do this I made use of character entities and the fantastic free online tool at http://www.wbwip.com/wbw/emailencoder.html.
The encoding tool is just a web form were you type in an email address and it spits out the appropriate character entities to generate the website address. For example, this email address -
In the source code would look like this:
If I placed those characters into the code of a webpage they would appear as firstname.lastname@example.org to people viewing the page through a browser.
This is supposed to help with reducing spam because those nasty spam bots which scour the web looking for email addresses to send junk email to don’t pick up the encoded addresses. Now I really believe the spam artists are smart enough to get around this technique, however I think a lot of them are just plain lazy so they don’t bother setting up a system that can pick up encoded email addresses. Most people don’t use encoded email addresses either so the spammers get good results from their bots regardless.
I set up encoded addresses for every instance of an email address on all pages of the BetterEdit.com website.
More Bounce Messages
If you are like me you may have purchased some top level country domain names for your business. For example I also have BetterEdit.com.au, BetterEdit.ca and BetterEdit.co.uk. Initially I had a catch-all email set up for these domains so any email sent to them would be “caught” and forwarded to my actual BetterEdit email address. I had it set up this way because I didn’t want to miss any legitimate email sent to my alternative domain names by mistake.
This set-up was responsible for more spam because my domains are being spoofed – that means the spammers are making it appear that the email they are sending are coming from my domain names. The result of this is that I get the bounce messages or emails from anyone silly enough to reply to spam thinking they can unsubscribe.
To deal with this situation I changed the catch-all settings so instead of forwarding mail to me I have a bounce message directing any real people to my website to locate the current contact details. If anyone seriously wants to get in touch with my business they will go to the website and find the correct contact method.
Great Anti-Spam Results
As I write this I’m getting about 75% less spam than I was getting this time last week. Once I switch off the redirects on the old address it should become even less. That’s added an extra hour per day of valuable time to my business, not bad if I do say so myself! If you are finding yourself dealing with abundant spam perhaps some of my tips above will help you too.