Nathan Gaidai
Nathan Gaidai
Table of Contents
Your IP, Domain, Email Marketing & SEO

Your IP, Domain, Email Marketing, and SEO

Table of Contents

Have you wondered if domain reputation affects SEO? It turns out that domain reputation matters in search engine optimization, especially when determining if your IP or domain is associated with spam or black hat activities.

The concept of domain reputation is usually used for email purposes. A domain’s reputation score determines if receiving mail servers can trust your domain. It can also be used for other things such as internal algorithm markings and determining penalties stored in search engine databases. Other spam reports related to email, link building, link spamming, and any relation to adult content are important for creating proper filters for search results, SEO and a safer search environment.

Whenever an email is sent, the receiving mail server performs a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) validation by checking the email headers, specifically if the “Mail From” contains a domain name that points to the sender’s IP address. This process is described in RFC 7208 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and its mechanisms will be outlined in this article. 

Your ip, domain, email marketing & seo

 

Domain Reputation and Web Hosting Servers

Domain reputation is also related to cheap shared hosting that shares the same IP address and partitions with other sites. For example, if you have a VPS hosting server, your IP address is your own partition on a server. Sometimes, it is marketed as cloud hosting, but it’s not always as good as they promise. They might have a dedicated server or service, but you will get very bad server response time which search bots dislike.

The problem is that many cheap hosting companies do not provide you with a dedicated IP address; some claim to give you your own partition but don’t. When this happens, you might have to share an IP with a website you don’t want to be neighboring. For example, imagine you would be associated with a pornographic site while your site is actually selling toys for kids. This could potentially hurt your search engine rankings. Maybe not in the long term, but I wouldn’t recommend taking the risk. 

If you have to use a shared hosting server or are on a budget, confirm with your hosting provider if they allow adult content on their shared hosting plans. They most likely don’t but we have encountered situations where shared plans were not allowed but VPS were. So the more you pay is not actually better in this case! MAKE SURE they give you a dedicated IP address that is not affected by your neighbors such as a bad IP range and check the IP’s reputation. At least after you have it assigned, they can replace it if anything.

The Importance of Using Subdomains for Email Marketing

For your main domain name to not have issues with domain authority, you can use a subdomain specific for email use. Creating a subdomain is free once you have purchased your main domain name. For example: 

  • Main domain: yourdomain.com
  • Subdomain: email.yourdomain.com

Companies, especially larger corporations, with high authority, would use this technique to protect their main domain but still keep their trustworthiness for the receiving server and user or at least avoiding the spam reports on the root domain.

People unlike servers do understand that e.zoom.us has a relation to zoom.us – because Zoom does not provide web hosting services like Wix or Google Sites such as: “mywebsite.wix.com” or “sites.google.com/view/physiocb”.

They also give it a different IP address to avoid spam reports. Here’s an example from Zoom:

Your ip, domain, email marketing & seo - email address

Here’s the IP Address for the main domain:

Your ip, domain, email marketing & seo - dns check zoom. Us

Notice that the subdomain’s IP address for email use differs from the main domain. Remember that domain reputation considers not only your domain name but also your IP address.

Your ip, domain, email marketing & seo - dns check e. Zoom. Us

Basically, your server neighbors, email marketing, server response times, are all ranking factors in SEO.

Tips for Buying a Domain Name With History

Use the web archive machine and search your desired domain before you buy it. For example, one of our dragon ball and anime domains from the early 2000’s that we dropped after a few years was bought off by someone else and turned into a pornographic site. We will never buy it again because of it.

You can check your domain reputation with different tools like Talos, CloudMark, SEMrush, Moz, Majestic, sitejabber etc

Also another way to check your site’s reputation is simply typing its name in search and looking for topics on it on Reddit and seeing how people reacted to it if it’s a specific brand, product or service. If a domain name doesn’t have any results when using the “site:yourdomain.com” query in Google.com, it might be non-existent or removed from search. Make sure to check Google Search Console and make sure you do not have a faulty robots.txt file or a noindex tag.

At the end of the day, what search engines are trying to do is simply imitate a good user experience as a robot. So this will only give you an edge against an equal competitor.

Your ip, domain, email marketing & seo

Why Everyone Should Use DKIM and SPF Records

Forwarding emails internally or in a catch all method is also an issue. Sometimes even if your server is the sender, you need to make sure that your domain/subdomain or forwarding mechanism has DKIM and SPF records on the entire chain to prevent a “broken telephone” situation. For example if your mailserver.mydomain.com is forwarding emails or sending emails in the name of otherdomain.com (or my.otherdomain.com), it should have DKIM and SPF setup. Arguably, even a DMARC would be needed at least to see the reports and check if some plugins or APIs are being exploited or even compromised.

Also, it is important to mention that an SPF record should include all forwarding mail services (if they are reputable and secure) you might use to forward emails. More about that here from Google best practices. Also read these in detail guidelines from Google regarding SPF setups.

Your Dedicated IP Functions As An Email Server

The only reason I would imagine having a dedicated IP for the email sender is to separate your Email “server” from your actual websites. If you can limit resources based on a container (basically a dedicated IP), you can mitigate DDoS attacks and heavy brute force attacks.

You could give your local mail server a dedicated IP. It’s not mandatory and it’s not recommended for reputation purposes. Also, changing the IP is not recommended so try to make that one you use permanent. A VPS is usually okay but it’s better to have a dedicated machine where you have absolute control over everything mentioned in this article. If you are interested in a hosting provider and an email setup (3rd party or local), that would take everything mentioned above into consideration check out our hosting integration services.

Specifically DKIM records are explained here:

Make sure to create at least a 2048-bit encryption for your key!, the longer the key, the better!

Now after all of this you are probably thinking to yourself, oh these people are crazy! Google does not care about email. Well, they actually do, their entire business model is anti-spam and they – the most prominent search engine at the moment. Here is some of their documentation about the subject and they even mention that PTR is a best practice record.

What about PTR records?

Reverse DNS by using a PTR record is still very important in email delivery. It is essential for establishing trust towards the sender’s email server. There is a three-way check that happens during email delivery. The first layer is a Forward DNS check to determine if the domain name is sending from a valid IP address, the second is a Reverse DNS check (PTR Records), and the third is a FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) check. If all checks are good, the email goes through your inbox successfully. If not, it goes through your spam folder or may even be rejected outright.

In essence, for every forward A record, there should be a PTR record in reverse. Neglecting PTR records can lead to negative ratings by spam filters, potentially resulting in email delivery issues. 

Some email service providers, such as Google and Microsoft, mandate PTR records for servers sending emails. Moreover, these PTR records must align with the server’s SMTP EHLO greetings and the corresponding A/AAAA records.

The sequence of checks should be the following: EHLO > A/AAAA Record > PTR Record.

For those who doubt whether PTR records are necessary, the email sender guidelines outlined by Google Support confirm its importance.

From the perspective of a mail server postmaster (meaning you have your own email server), I can confirm that emails originating from servers without PTR records have an 80% or higher chance of being routed to the SPAM folders or rejected. Some elaborately configured mail servers reject emails outright due to the absence of PTR records, without even checking your email content or IP reputation, etc.

Considerations When Using PTR Records

However, you do not want a PTR if you are using a complicated system. For example, you are using both your own server and a 3rd party to send emails (i.e Outlook). PTR is meant to assist IP deliverability. Gmail for example does not need your help using that record, they point to it themselves, also, sending emails from your website should be done with a separate domain, maybe a .net version of your .com.

Your emails from your website might end up landing your emails in spam folders, unless you have DMARC setup for them properly. For example, an SPF record has 2 approved senders but a PTR should only have 1. Two PTR records are not recommended, this is best used for example, in a single email channel, similar to an MX record. It would be much safer for that reason to use a PTR for a subdomain that does not have an SPF record and the subdomain DMARC policy is specifically non-existent (not by default, for example, mywebsite.wix.com will not have a DMARC policy via wix.com).

Having a Proper DMARC Setup

Some mail services however ignore PTR records. SO – make sure to always have a proper DMARC setup! Look at it as an additional layer to improve email deliverability when you are not using a 3rd party email provider and are running maybe Webmail via cPanel or a similar setup.

Having no PTR record on your budget website that is running a local mail service will not be deliverable as much as one with a PTR record. You will not lose or reap any SEO benefits but being stagnant is an issue on its own.

Remember, bots on the internet will start scraping your data as soon as you start appearing on search results and elsewhere on the internet and will do unimaginable things to your domain’s reputation, weird things like trying to email non-existing email addresses to find out which ones are real and eventually will try to imitate you online for fraudulent purposes or even ransom.

Set a PTR record and avoid potential spam reports and someone from potentially hurting your brand in the future.

A very important note about PTR, it is an older mechanism to rely on when DMARC is available, but it is a very simple one. DMARC can work well even with only a DKIM or an SPF but it is not recommended. We also noticed that DMARC together with PTR sometimes does not show “DMARC Pass” in the email headers, but it also does not fail. So choose one of the two. Not both. We recommend DMARC with both DKIM and SPF.

Your ip, domain, email marketing & seo

CloudFlare Users

You can run a single CloudFlare paid plan for your main domain that is receiving emails, but it won’t help your reputation because the IP will be hidden via proxy. As mentioned above in this article, having an IP tied up to your email system is great for your reputation.

Now if you have a bunch of websites and / or subdomains that are receiving emails you can use that same proxy for receiving emails without exposing the IP address. If you run a complex marketing email campaign or just a privacy freak you can use that method. It is very similar to using a 3rd party email provider for receiving email (Gmail, Outlook, ProtonMail).

When you send an email from your server, for example your WordPress or Shopify, you will expose your IP address regardless since it is functioning as a “3rd party” email provider.

Why Shared Hosting is Bad Overall

All you have to do to become a victim is simply get unlucky but choose a shared hosting plan that shares an IP with a bad actor, and he could start faking your emails with SPF authentication. Stay away from these plans and never worry about this again.

SMTP vs PHP Mailer

PHP Mailer are not trusted by email servers for the reasons mentioned above. Even SMTP for the same reason but that is an extra step towards better reputation. Do not spam people using your SMTP either, that is also a bad idea. There is a giant benefit of using SMTP even off server, because it will act as a 3rd party and your main IP will not be exposed. Some more information about SMTP vs PHP Mailer here.

SMTP is pretty versatile in that regard. Let’s say you own a website called xyz.com. This website is hosted at a specific IP address, like 1.1.1.1. 

However, if you want to send emails from a different server, let’s call it server.mail.xyz.com, hosted at 2.2.2.2 you can do that with an SMTP plugin!

With the SMTP plugin, you can instruct it to log in as an SMTP user at 2.2.2.2 and send emails, even though your website is hosted  at 1.1.1.1.

As long as you have +ip4:2.2.2.2 in your SPF, which matches the sending IP, then it will pass SPF checks as an authorized sender. Using SMTP authentication significantly reduces the problems or caveats that people often face with PHP mailers.

Conclusion

That being said, changing your host will not hurt your SEO directly, but it will hurt some email deliverability – a boatload of issues. On top of that, if you had a PTR record for some reason and now it’s misconfigured due to a migration you will have a very bad day. Imagine your domain is also used for 2FA or to confirm a domain transfer. Stay strong. HAhAhahaHahA.

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