Have your emails been bouncing a lot lately? If yes, you might have to ask yourself the dreaded question: is my email domain blacklisted?
Getting blacklisted is an enormous blow to your email marketing campaigns. Your emails won’t reach recipients’ inboxes, which nosedives your deliverability rates.
👉 In this article, we’ll answer all of your questions about email blacklists:
- What is an email blacklist?
- How to check if my email domain is blacklisted?
- Why is my email domain blacklisted?
- How to fix a blacklisted email domain?
Let’s get started! 🎬
What is an email blacklist?
An email blacklist, also known as a blocklist, is a list of domains or IP addresses that providers have blocked from sending emails because they repeatedly send unsolicited emails (spam). Blocklist service providers like Spamhaus, Spamcop, Validity, and Barracuda provide lists of blacklisted email domains.
Blocklist service providers serve as a vital shield, protecting people’s inboxes from irritating spammy emails, as people identify nearly 49% of all emails sent globally as spam. 
To determine whether they should grant access to their account holders, mailbox providers judge an email sender’s reputation by checking multiple blacklists.
How to check if my email domain is blacklisted: 6 easy ways
There are a variety of methods you can use to answer the question “is my email domain blacklisted?”.
👉 Let’s review six tactics for checking your email domain blacklist status, shall we?
- Watch your email metrics
- Send test emails
- Postmaster Tools
- Use a domain blacklist checker tool
- Run a check on email blacklist provider sites
- Use an email monitor tool
1. Watch your email metrics
The first step to determining if your email is blacklisted is to closely watch your email engagement metrics. Note sudden adverse changes in crucial metrics like your deliverability rates. If your deliverability rates have tanked, it might be a signal that your domain is blacklisted.
Other signs include a sudden influx of unsubscribes and significantly lower-than-usual opens and clickthroughs.
Low engagement may also indicate deeper issues, like poor targeting or drab content, which can affect your sender reputation. 📧
2. Send test emails
If your email analytics show that your recent emails have had a high bounce rate, it’s time to ask: is my email domain blacklisted?
You can answer this question by sending a test email using the following steps:
Step 1: Write and send a test email, ensuring you avoid any spam trigger words so your email doesn’t get nabbed by spam filters.
Step 2: Ask the recipients to check their spam or junk folders for the test email. If your email domain is blacklisted, there’s a high chance that the email will end up in the spam folder.
Step 3: Check the delivery status of your test emails. If most emails bounce back, your domain is on a blacklist.
However, sending test emails isn’t 100% accurate. Therefore, you’ll want to use a combination of test emails and more conclusive methods. 📨
3. Postmaster Tools
Gmail and Microsoft Outlook offer postmaster tools to track email performance. The data you glean from the Postmaster dashboards can help you tell whether they’ve blacklisted your domain.
Here’s the basic process to follow to check if your email domain is blacklisted using Gmail’s Postmaster Tools:
Step 1: Sign up for Google Postmaster Tools
First, sign up for a free Gmail Postmaster Tools account. To use Postmaster Tools, you must have a Google account (Google Workspace or a Gmail address). If you don’t have a Google Account, create one for free.
Step 2: Verify your domain
After signing up, verify ownership of your email domain by adding the TXT provided to your site’s DNS record.
Step 3: Authenticate your emails
Ensure that your email server is correctly set up with SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) authentication.
Step 4: Analyze crucial metrics
Check your domain’s delivery, spam, and bounce rates to see if you notice any unusual unfavorable fluctuations.
In particular, analyze the spam numbers. High spam rates might indicate that your emails are being marked as spam and could be a sign of blacklisting. 🧰
4. Use a domain blacklist checker tool
Another way to check if you are blacklisted is to use a blacklist checker tool.
Blacklist checkers are handy because they are fast.
Running checks manually on individual blacklist provider sites is draining and time-consuming. With blacklist checkers, you can check hundreds of blacklists in one go. The top blacklist checker tools to try are MxToolbox, DNSBL.info, and Debouncer. ⚙️
Checking is pretty straightforward.
When using MxToolbox, for example, type your domain into the search bar and click “Blacklist Check.”
👉 Dedicated blacklist checker tools also offer additional services like:
- Email health checks
- DNS lookup
- DMARC records checks
- SMTP diagnostics
5. Run a check on email blacklist provider sites
Are you still asking yourself the big question of “is my email domain blacklisted?”
What better way to answer the question than to ask the blacklist service providers themselves?
Many blacklist provider sites allow you to check if your email domain ended up on their naughty list. Blacklist providers have easy-to-use lookup tools for running blacklist searches. You can run a search for your email domain or IP.
👉 Some leading blacklist providers you can use are:
Speaking of SURBL, here’s their blacklist lookup page:
6. Use an email monitor tool
The final way to discover if your email domain is blacklisted is to use an email monitoring tool.
Email monitoring tools like ZeroBounce and Mass Mailer offer live email blacklist-checking services. For instance, ZeroBounce runs automated checks on over 200 blacklist service providers. The system picks up if your email domain or IP is on any of the lists and alerts you promptly so you can fix things quickly. 💻️
👉 Besides blacklist monitoring, these tools offer other related services, such as:
- Email validation and list cleaning
- In-depth email engagement data
- Predictive deliverability metrics
- Email testing tools
- Email protection systems
Why is my email domain blacklisted?
If you’ve discovered that your email domain is blacklisted, you now have another important question to ask yourself: why is my email domain blacklisted?
Here are some common reasons email domains end up on the blacklist:
- Sending spam: If your email domain sends unsolicited emails to recipients who did not opt-in to receive them, it can be flagged as spam and added to blacklists.
- High bounce rates: Sending emails to invalid email addresses results in a high bounce rate. If you repeatedly send messages to such addresses, it’s often a sign that you purchased an email list from a third party. This is a frowned upon practice and can get you blacklisted.
- Sending to purchased lists: As mentioned above, buying email lists or using third-party lists without proper permission violates email marketing best practices and can land your domain on blacklists.
- Mass email campaigns: Sending a massive volume of emails in a short time can trigger spam alerts and blacklist your domain.
Email content and intent
- Virus distribution: An email domain associated with distributing malware or viruses through email attachments or links will usually end up on blacklists.
- Phishing attempts: If your domain is linked to phishing activities, such as trying to hoodwink users into revealing sensitive information, it will likely end up on blocklists.
- Email spoofing: Email spoofing happens when the sender forges the “From” address to appear as if it’s coming from a legitimate domain. If this happens with your domain, it may end up on a blacklist.
- Open relays or proxies: Spammers can misuse open relays or proxies of misconfigured email servers, which can blacklist your domain.
Reputation and feedback
- High complaint rates: If people keep marking emails from a domain as spam, email providers may blacklist them.
- Poor sender reputation: An email domain with a poor reputation because of high spam rates or another issue can get blacklisted. Note that reputation issues may be related to the domain history.
Note that many of these overlap with each other. For example, if your email domain sends out a lot of phishing emails, then you’ll also probably experience high complaint rates, which in turn will muddy your sender reputation.
How to fix a blacklisted email domain
So you’ve asked yourself the hard question: is my email domain blacklisted? And you’ve found out that the answer is “yes” – now what?
👉 Now it’s time to fix it. Here’s how:
Request delisting from DNSBL services
First, to remove your domain from blacklists, you should contact Domain Name System Blacklist (DNSBL) providers directly.
Many blacklist providers display contact information on their websites. If you suspect your domain is blacklisted, then you can contact them. They can tell you the issue and the steps you should take to fix it. Each DNSBL service has a unique solution to delist a domain from their blocklists. Follow their instructions on how to get delisted.
As an example, let’s take look at how to remove your domain from the blocklist on Spamhaus and Gmail.
Spamhaus blacklist removal
Follow these four simple steps to remove your email domain from the Spamhaus blacklist:
1. Run a blacklist check for your domain
Hop over to the Spamhaus blacklist lookup tool, enter your domain into the search box, and click Lookup.
2. Find out why your domain has been blacklisted
If your domain is blacklisted, it will appear in the search results. To find out why you are on the blacklist, click Show Details.
3. Fix the blacklist issue
Once you’ve found the root cause of your blacklisting, clean it up and deal with it.
4. Request to be delisted from the blacklist
Finally, request delisting.
Depending on the nature of the issue, you can request delisting yourself or via your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Gmail blacklist removal
👉 If Gmail has blacklisted your email domain, follow these simple steps to get it delisted:
- Confirm your blacklist status by checking your email server logs or using online blacklist-checking tools like MxToolbox or MultiRBL.
- Identify the issue that caused the blacklisting by interpreting the SMTP error messages sent to your Gmail inbox or by examining Gmail’s Postmaster Tools.
- Depending on the issue, you might be able to solve it entirely by following the Gmail bulk sender guidelines.
- Once you have addressed the blacklisting issue, request delisting from Gmail by confirming you’ve corrected the problem. You can do so on the Gmail senders troubleshooting page.
Is my email domain blacklisted? Final thoughts 🧐
Now we’ve helped you answer the big question, “is my email domain blacklisted?”, what’s next?
Well, you’ll want to avoid having your email domain blacklisted again.
🚀 Here are some essential email marketing practices to follow to ensure your email domain doesn’t end up blacklisted:
- Avoid spam trigger words: Don’t use spam trigger words in your emails so your emails aren’t marked as spam.
- Permission-based marketing: Only send emails to recipients who have explicitly opted in to receive your messages.
- Don’t buy email lists: Avoid purchasing or using third-party email lists, which can lead to high complaint rates and blacklisting.
- Double opt-in: Reduce the chances of spam complaints by using a double opt-in process to confirm subscribers want to join your mailing list.
- Email list hygiene: Maintain a healthy email list by removing inactive subscribers and invalid addresses that bounce consistently.
- Provide an unsubscribe option: Maintain a positive sender reputation by making it easy for recipients to opt out of your emails by including a prominent unsubscribe link.
- Consistent sending patterns: Maintain a consistent email-sending schedule. Abruptly increasing email sending volume significantly can trigger spam alerts and raise suspicion.
Adhere to these email marketing best practices to maintain a positive sender reputation and reduce the chances of your email domain ending up on email blacklists.
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