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Reducing Spam Emails

How to reduce spam emails from your website

Spam emails are a nuisance that we’re all accustomed to; that familiar tide of unwanted junk that clogs up our inboxes. As persistent as they are, there are ways to reduce the number of unsolicited emails that end up in your inbox.

Where do spam emails come from?

When you register a new website, your details go into the Whois database. Your details are then vulnerable to spammers who use software to scan this database for new sites.

Spammers will either guess standard email addresses, things like ‘admin@company.com.au’, or they’ll use software which scans your site for email addresses. There are also sites like hunter.io/search where people can attempt to get your email address format.

Sometimes it will just be people googling companies in certain industries in the hope that they’ll get some work. Other times it will be general, untargeted spam and phishing attempts.

Either way, this quickly adds up to an inbox stuffed with unwanted junk. So, what can you do about it?

Some common mistakes to avoid when attempting to reduce spam emails

Disguise your email address

Sometimes referred to as ‘address munging’, the theory is that by putting xxx[at]company[dot]com[dot]au rather than xxx@company.com.au, you’ll trick the spammer’s email-finding software into not recognising your email address.

This may have been true at one point but, logically, if someone can program software to sift through text for an email address, they can almost certainly teach it to look for the same thing but with [at] instead of an @ symbol. Aside from not being foolproof, this method can also be jarring for people reading your website.

Put your email address as an image

Like address munging, putting your email address on your website as an image is designed to trick software into not recognising it. While this method is probably more effective than using [at] instead of @, it’s also even more irritating for people using your site. People can’t copy and paste an image so will end up having to re-type the whole address, which can lead to typos and missed opportunities.

This technique is also bad for visually impaired users, as the text-to-speech software they use may not be able to recognise that the image contains an email address.

Using Javascript to hide your email address

Hiding your email address from spambots using Javascript can be highly effective. However, this technique is generally frowned upon as people viewing your site with Javascript disabled won’t be able to see your email address at all.

More effective spam reduction options

Don’t make your email address a link

Remove the hyperlink from your email address on your site, and instead keep it as plain text for someone to copy – this can be slightly annoying for people using your site, but if used in conjunction with a contact form it can give people different options.

Contact forms

Contact forms can cut down on spambots as some are unable to recognise contact form fields. You can also include a ‘honeypot’ in your contact form – this is a hidden input which isn’t visible to a real, human, user, but which will automatically be filled by a spambot. If the honeypot field is filled it prevents the form from being submitted. However, this method does not prevent individual people from spamming you.

Captcha

As its name suggests, a captcha or ‘Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart’, is a test used to tell spambots from people. By including a captcha on your contact form, you can minimise the amount of robot-generated spam arriving in your inbox. These come in multiple forms from simple tick boxes to typing in codes/words or identifying images.

Only use social media

Of course, the simplest way to avoid spam emails is to receive no emails at all. Depending on the nature of your business it may be preferable to provide social media sites as your only points of contact.

Spam emails may be a reality of modern communication, but by taking a few steps to protect yourself and keeping up-to-date with spam reduction techniques, you can reduce the number that reaches your inbox.

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