How to check your domain reputation

Everyone just can’t stop talking about domain reputation — and for good reason! More and more, it’s becoming the ultimate factor in deliverability. It’s considered everywhere your domain is used including message content, brand assets, and of course email authentication.

Receivers keep track of how your domain is used and performs in all messages. Based on this data, they use complex algorithms to “score” your domain, weighing that score against future messages when filtering spam. But that means you don’t have just one big domain reputation floating out there in cyberspace. Instead a domain can have countless reputations unique to what each receiver has seen and the proprietary scoring processes that receiver uses.

It’d be great to know exactly what everyone thinks of your domain, but the more a receiver shares, the more spammers and other nefarious senders will start to figure out how to trick the system. Understandably, most receivers keep their data private. There are, however, some free services that will aggregate and anonymize multiple receivers’ data to give you some general insight into your domain’s health.

Domain reputation lookup tools

First check out Talos Intelligence provided by Cisco that associates your “web reputation” with messages sent over various IPs. A “neutral” reputation there typically means there’s little data available for your domain (low volume).

Next we recommend Reputation Authority, another free service that specifically generates a score for your domain in relation to each IP it sends over. For senders who separate their mail streams by IP, you can more clearly see the reputation of each message type.

There’s also third-party filtering software some use in their corporate/university mail servers. You can run a quick search in these public databases to determine if your domain is blacklisted or considered “risky.” Two of the most popular are Barracuda and McAfee. Beyond that, tools using open source SpamAssassin filtering can help identify any domains in your content and email headers that could hinder delivery.

Finally, there are certain receivers who directly share their internal reputation score for your domain, as long as you have high enough volume to anonymize the data. The most notable is Google Postmaster Tools, a top receiver for most senders. You’ll get an exact reputation grade from Google that directly affects deliverability to Gmail recipients.

Even if Google isn’t your biggest receiver, data on how one entity views your domain is excellent insight into how other receivers might determine your reputation. And there’s some good news for Russian brands — Yandex and have also developed their own free postmaster tools by domain, so definitely check those out.

If you’re not seeing very much data about your domain, don’t sweat it! It likely just means your volume isn’t large or consistent enough yet. Just make sure you’re working with highly reputable ESPs to optimize deliverability. In the meantime, set up custom DKIM and Return-Path domains so that as your email volume grows, you’ll be able to build a standalone domain reputation based on your own good sending practices.


[Originally posted here.]