I implement Mandrill transactional email sending on many WordPress websites. WordPress by default sends email from the server on which it is hosted. If you use shared hosting then this can cause problems for email delivery as if another website on the shared server is deemed a spammer then this may negatively affect your email delivery. Using Mandrill (from the Mailchimp people), Amazon Simple Email Service (SES), SendGrid or similar makes email delivery far more likely.
But what does this have to do with SEO? Read on …
All emails in backlog. Why?
On a website I set up recently I integrated Mandrill for email sending from the website (for contact form submissions and website notifications). I noticed a problem in that no messages were being sent from Mandrill and, upon checking the Mandrill dashboard, I noticed that all emails were being held in backlog. Usually if an excess of emails have been sent for the account in a specific hour then messages are held in backlog until the next hour. In this case all email messages were kept in backlog and weren’t being sent by Mandrill at all.
I contacted Mandrill support and they were very helpful in explaining that the sending domain was blacklisted by one or more of the various blacklist, spam or malware list providers. The response from Mandrill is below.
Thanks for your email. Sending for this account has been paused for review. In this case, it looks like one or more of the domains used for sending emails with this account, is listed with a reputable blacklist provider. Because of the reputation issues this type of listing could cause for Mandrill’s sending IP addresses, and for your reputation as a sender, we’d ask that you review the blacklist resources in the below article and request delisting in the cases where your domain(s) have been listed.
Let us know once the listing has been removed. At that time, we can review the account again.
Please let us know if you have any other questions at this time.
The Mandrill Crew
I checked and the clients sending domain was listed on SURBL as appearing in unsolicited messages. Fortunately SURBL provide a form to submit to review the blacklist status. Unfortunately the client wouldn’t fill the form to remove the blacklist status.
Domain reputation and SEO
There is one obvious issue with having your domain email blacklisted; many of your emails won’t be delivered as Gmail, Microsoft and most other good email providers expend vast resources in identifying and removing spam. For many of us, email is a critical communication tool and therefore knowing that many of our emails won’t be delivered is reason for significant concern.
The other issue, that I don’t know explicitly exists, but I’d be amazed if it’s unimportant is the relationship between a domain that is blacklisted for email reasons and SEO. If your website is identified by Google or Bing as distributing Malware, your website will be immediately removed from appearing in search results until you clean the site and submit a review request. Surely there must be a relationship between a domain blacklisted for email reasons and the assumed quality of that domain within the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). I can’t find anywhere that states the relationship between a domain identified as an email spammer and the SEO reputation of that domain in search results but I’d sure as heck do whatever it takes to remove my domain from any email blacklists (just in case there is a relationship).
How to protect your domain email reputation
Here are a few related tips to protect your domain reputation:
- Do not spam. Ever!
- Be aware of, and adhere to, U.S. anti-spam laws (because so many email services are based in the U.S.A.), Canadian anti-spam laws (because these laws are all over the news) and the Australian anti-spam act (if you’re Australian).
- If sending email newsletters (Aweber, Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor etc.) always get the permission of the subscriber.
- Don’t ever buy lists of email addresses and send emails to those addresses.
- Add DKIM and SPF DNS records for sending emails from your domain.
- Enable DMARC on your domain to protect your domain quality.
- Use a high quality email service and not the free emails service that comes with your webhosting account.
- If your domain is added to a blacklist. Get it removed from the list A.S.A.P.