By Ewan MacLeod
Spam. Everyone hates it, and it's become a fact of life for personal and business users alike. Many accounts come with anti-spam programs that run the risk of cutting out genuine emails using overzealous filters; and many more sift through mountains of spam in search for genuine emails (sound familiar?!). There has to be a better way - and guess what, there is.
Submitting your email address online can lead to a lot of spam (signing up to newsletters or updates, for instance), but the main (and in many cases, the only) cause of spam arriving in your email box is having your email address on your website, or on other websites on the Internet - try searching for your address in Google to find the obvious culprits! The email address is then crawled by Spam Bots* and will be the less than happy recipient of 10 Viagra emails a day for the rest of its existence. If your address is already out on the net, the chances are that the horse has already bolted regarding receiving spam to the address. So read on for a tried and tested strategy that will allow you to move to a more enjoyable, spam free email setup, without having to use any filtering. This has worked for us, as well as the clients we have who have asked us to stop their spam.
A brand-new-email-address @ yourdomain.com is unlikely to ever receive spam - unless it is put on the Internet somewhere, or it is used to sign up to sites. It doesn't matter if email@example.com is receiving 1000 spam messages a day - firstname.lastname@example.org will stay clean, providing it is not on the Internet, or used as a signup email address.
So, you're having problems with enquiries @ yourdomain.com (it is seeing more spam than the British in World War 2). The first thing to do is to start to move towards phasing this email address out of your usual business life. Don't remove this email address entirely - it will stay in service as your public/signup email address (you usually need one address like that!). Create a new email address, for instance business.enquiries @ yourdomain.com - and DO NOT PUT THIS ON THE INTERNET, ANYWHERE (yet).
Next, make sure that there are no visible email addresses on your site. Instead you want people to use forms to contact you, if they are not doing so already. Assuming you already have a contact form, you'll want to check if your address is visible to Spam Bots. Navigate to your contact page, and then view the page source (to do this in Mozilla Firefox, click on 'View' and then 'Page Source'). Once you can view the source, press Ctrl + F to search through the code, and search for your email address. If you can view your email address, then the address is open to be targeted by spam. So you will want to encrypt your email address to prevent this from happening.
*In case you're not familiar with the terms - the Internet is constantly 'crawled' by 'bots'. Google crawls the net with its bots to check the quality of web pages and make sure it can find pages when you search for a term. And, sadly, spammers crawl the net with bots, designed specifically to find email addresses for spamming. A spam bot is just a program or a script that crawls or travels around the net, looking at the source code of sites and searching for those precious email@example.com addresses (unlike the Google spam bots, that crawl the net looking for reasons to put you higher up in their Search Engine Rankings). They start with a few web addresses and then spread out to any pages linked to in those addresses, and so on, and on, and on, and on...
Ewan MacLeod NuBlue Web Solutions http://www.nublue.co.uk