You might be surprised to learn that nearly 80 percent of all emails on the internet are spam. Regardless, it can be pretty frustrating if your business emails keep ending up in your recipients’ spam folder instead of their inbox.

While there’s not much you can do on your recipients’ end to fix that issue—they might have aggressive filters implemented that label even legitimate business emails as spam—there are some steps you can take to keep your messages from getting marked as email spam.

There are several reasons you might be getting labeled as email spam. For instance, if you don't have the required permissions, or if the server flagged your IP. If your email engagement is not high enough, or if you’ve used misleading subject lines or used email spam trigger words, your email can very easily land in the spam folder.

What are SPF and DKIM?

To solve this issue of email spam, you need to familiarize yourself with SPF and DKIM. If this is the first time you’ve come across these acronyms, don’t be concerned. We’ve got you covered.

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. At its very basic level, it is a security protocol that tells the recipient that it is actually YOU sending the email and not someone else posing as you. When you have this mechanism set on your DNS server, your recipient's DNS – a phonebook directory of networks – the server can authenticate that it is you sending the emails and not a spammer masquerading as you. This authentication process is used by mail servers to help protect you and your end users from email spam, phishing, and spoofing.

SPF works like this: you publish an SPF record – a list of authorized IPs – that defines mail servers that can send emails on your behalf. The recipient mail server compares the IP address of the sender with the ones on the SPF record and allows it if it checks out. If it doesn’t, it rejects it and flags it as spam.

DomainKeys Identified Mail, or DKIM, is another authentication mechanism that validates an email message. It works by attaching a unique digital signature to the header of the email to be sent. You, the domain admin, publishes a public cryptographic key in TXT format along with your domain’s DNS record.

Your mail server creates and attaches the digital signature to the outgoing email’s header. The recipient’s mail server decrypts the signature and compares it to the published key. If it matches, it means the email is authentic and not forged.

Adding SPF and DKIM to your domains DNS

Now that you know how SPF and DKIM can land your emails in your recipients’ junk folders, the next question that might pop in your mind is how you can create these records yourself.

Before you can set up SPF, you need to find out whether it has already been set on your mail server or not. You can use Google App toolbox or MxToolbox and run your domain name there, and it will show you your current SPF settings. 

Next up, you need to collect all the mail servers you'll be using to send your emails on behalf of your domain and compile them into a list. Your domain might be using one, or your domain might be using a combination of web servers, respective ISP’s mail server, mail server the same as your recipient’s or a third-party mail server. Make sure you include all of them in your list.

If your brand owns multiple domains, include the domains you’ll be mailing your users from as well as the ones you won’t be using.

Moving on, you need to tag each IP address with v=spf1, after adding all of the authorized IPs, conclude the record with an ~all tag. In case of a third-party mailing server, don’t forget to add include statements as “include:thirdparty.com." Here's an example of how a mail sending record should look like:

v=spf1 ip4:1.2.3.4 ip4:2.3.4.5 include:thirdparty.com -all 

Strip all the code save for “spf1” and “-all” for non-sending domains. The final step is to publish this completed record to DNS. And you’re all set with the SPF protocol.

To create a DKIM record, start by choosing a DKIM selector – a text string defined by the user. This selector will help with identifying the public key.

Next, you need to create a pair of public and private keys. You can use puTTYgen if you’re running Windows and ssh-keygen if you’re on Linux.

If you’re using puTTYgen, simply click “generate” to create a public/private key and save it to your disk. The next step is to place the public key you saved on your disk as a TXT record in the DNS provider’s settings. This set up varies between DNS providers, so, you should consult the documentation provided by your DNS provider.

Once you’ve done that, you need to create and save your digital signature. Using an SMPT (an internet protocol used for transmitting emails) server of your choice, you can make use of the DKIM milter. A milter is an open-source extension that lets you flag spam emails. SMPT servers release milters and DKIM milter are released by Sendmail. It allows you to generate and attach private keys to emails.

A typical DKIM digital signature should look like this:

v=1;

a=rsa-sha256;

c=relaxed/relaxed;

d=isipp.com;

s=sel42;

t=1399817581;

bh=Pl25…dcMqN+E=;

h=Message-ID:Date:Subject:From:To:MIME-Version:Content-Type; b=Xp/nL93bv6Qo73K…KmskU/xefbYhHUA=

Once you have published a DKIM public key, you need to frequently change and update the private/public key pairs in case a key has been broken and is compromised. This process is called DKIM key rotation, and it is pretty straightforward.

All you need to do is to use the key selector – the “s=sel42;” in the above example – to introduce new keys into circulation. It also keeps the old keys maintained for a specified period of time, so the older emails with the old key stored in the headers have enough time to be delivered.

You can change the keys every week or longer depending on your brand’s policy.

Still having problems? Check email bounce error message

Sometimes, instead of the mail going into the end users’ junk/spam folder, it will be rejected or bounced. Unlike your business email getting marked as email spam, when it bounces, the reason for the rejection is given to you.

The email might have failed to deliver because the recipient’s inbox might be full or the email server might be temporarily down. This is referred to as a soft bounce. When an email hard bounces it is probably because the email address or domain doesn’t exist anymore.

More often than not, the mail service would have you blacklisted and tackling this issue can be as simple as contacting the service and getting yourself removed from this blacklist. If the problem persists, emailing the admin of that server might help resolve it.

To keep you from getting blacklisted, after a specified number of failed soft bounce attempts the email address is labeled as hard bounced. This process keeps your IP reputation intact and minimizes the number of unengaged emails.

What is a headless CMS?

A couple of years ago I was at a WordCamp in Sydney, Australia and Japh from Human Made made a presentation about headless wordpress. or headless CMS. I think back at the time I was asking myself, what was the point? Or, what is the application for this? And... was this even possible to use the backend of WordPress without the frontend? Aren't they kind of glued together? It turns out not.

On the surface of it, WordPress looks straightforward enough. Until things go wrong.

It has happened to everyone, at least once. You are experiencing a problem on your WordPress website. A new plugin that conflicts with your installation, a custom code that you incorrectly added to the functions.php file (if you run a theme). Whatever might go wrong, can do and sometimes does. In that moment, we find ourselves sweating bullets because we think we have broken our website. Newcomers to WordPress and development in general may even freak out a little bit. But when you have come to the end of your options, inevitably everyone looks around for help.

Unfortunately, WordPress does not have a phone number to call for help, nor a plugin to install and fix everything instantly. As with many activities, there is always a bad (poor) and a good (effective) way to do things. And seeking help with WordPress is no exception. If you find yourself stuck with your WordPress get in touch and lets see how we can help.

Otherwise, lets explore other options first.

Think about what actions you took

Most likely due to something you have directly done, things went wrong, and you are experiencing some problems. Before seeking help right away, you should try to understand what caused the problem and try to think back to what you did right before it happened. Most common problems can fall under one of these categories: WordPress fails to update a Plugin which conflicts with other plugins. Or themes (sometimes free ones) don't update properly or are way out of date and break with incorrect syntax or missing secitions of code. Trying to understand what your last action was prior to WordPress breaking can set you in the right direction to a) deactive/delete/reverse your last action or b) share your current situation more accurately with other WordPress users. Knowledge is power, and it is more important than ever when things go wrong.

Deactivate plugins and install default theme

If you recently installed or updated a plugin or theme and noticed some unexpected behavior, turn off all your plugins and activate the latest default WordPress theme (such as Twenty nineteen) to "reset" your website. If the issue goes away, you now know either your theme or one of your plugins is causing it.

One by one, start re-activating plugins until you find which one breaks your site. make a note of the version number and what functions it provides for your site. Deactivate it again then quickly browse your site and see what functionality is missing. Delete the plugin and either try re-installing it or find another plugin with similar functionality and go through the installation and integration process.

If your plugins are not the cause then move on to your theme. Are you running a child theme? If so, activate the parent theme. Does this fix it? If yes, create a new child theme and slowly copy the attributes from the old child theme to the new one. If no, activate a solid reliable theme from WordPress. At time of writing twenty nineteen is most current. If this works then you have a theme problem and should either contact the theme support or consider now a good time to install a new theme and revamp your site. If you are at this stage then give us a call first. We don't use themes in WordPress anymore but would be delighted to talk to you about how we can help you re-build your website into something modern, attractive and functional.

Ask for WordPress help on forums

When things don't go as we expect, and there is some business urgency to it then we need to fix our broken WordPress site as quickly as possible. Its often the case that a broken website will have immediate effect on your business income or affect the perception of your business as a reliable entity. WordPress forums are the very first place you should start looking for tips on how to deal with your current issue. By using the "site: wordpress.org / support" operator+ your keyword, you can quickly browse through them even through Google. Or just search on any error messages you see. We often find that any results with Stack Overflow often can be very promising. But sometimes highly technical.

There is an old saying that goes something like "There is no such thing as a stupid question"... Well, be careful asking stupid questions on Stack Overflow! You'll likely get a fast negative rating and some verbal abuse along with it. That said, if you can get by without asking a question, which is often the case, there is a very good chance you'll find what you need to progress or resolve your issue.

How to ask for help for WordPress plugins

The abundance of plugins is one of the greatest things about WordPress, but sometimes they are not compatible with the latest WordPress setup. So if you know something has happened because of a plugin, you should head over its official page in the repository of WordPress.org and look for the "FAQ" tab to see if your issue is listed. If there is nothing there and your need is not urgent, click on the "Support" tab and follow the prompts to raise an email/ticket with the plugin support team. If its a free plugin be prepared for little or no help. Although that's not always the case and we can recall plenty of instances where free plugin developers have been very helpful.

Talk with WordPress experts in your area

Look locally. WordPress is so popular you are bound to find people in your area that can help. Here in Hobart we have a WordPress Hobart User Group that can be found on Facebook and also via Meetup.com. These options can often be free. And they can also be a great way to meet other people in the WordPress community, share ideas, drink coffee and chat about all things web related. If you need an expert and are willing to pay then say this on the Facebook page and clearly state your problem. People will still try and help you for free, but you will also attract the attention of local professionals who make a living from this sort of thing.

Check active WordPress groups for help

You can also try one of these groups. First try searching to see if your question has already been answered. If not, give it a go and remember to clearly describe what your issue is along with what error messages (if any) are being reported.

Q&A WordPress websites

Linkedin WordPress groups

Facebook WordPress groups

When you don't have time to wait

If time is of the essence and you need someone quickly then try the facebook page for WordPress Hobart User Group and if you have no luck here, either give us a call or perform a keyword search in Google for WordPress support in Hobart. You will discover there is plenty of local talent to help you out.

Consider hiring a web design agency to build your online presence and secure a foothold on local search engine outcomes?

Would you be surprised if we said local web design services in Hobart Tasmania may be the best way to go when determining which agency to hire? While web design agencies abroad offer attractive prices and quick turnarounds, local web design agencies provide a slew of benefits that can't be found elsewhere. In the long run, working with a local web design agency can have a drastic effect on your online foothold's potency. Instead of listing the problems that arise from web design agencies abroad, let's look at the benefits you can receive when working with an agency in your own backyard.

The Benefits of Working with a Local Web Design Hobart Agency

Local insight and knowledge

One of the best reasons to work with a Hobart web design agency is the domestic knowledge they bring to the table. When lifting your website to the top of Google, local agencies will have a deeper understanding of the competition in your area and the best ways to improve your SEO. Being on the ground really does make a difference because they will see the same search engine results that your potential customers and your competitors see.

Faster communication

Need to talk to your web designer, but in their part of the world it's 4 am? Nothing hurts progress and momentum more than long communication pauses due to time zone differences.

Working with a local website design agency solves this issue. Communication should be instantaneous, allowing you to suggest changes, discuss progress, and review real-time results.

Without wanting to sound terrible, sometimes the language barrier can cause real headaches in translation.

In person - face-to-face meeting

Face-to-face meetings are integral to build trust, measure expertise, and accurately convey your online strategy's scope and vision. Not only are face-to-face meetings a valuable way to share ideas, explain concepts and avoid potential confusion, they also help measure your return on investment (ROI). Ultimately, you decide to invest in a quality web design agency in Hobart because you see the hidden longer term values in it.

Security and reliability

Some countries may be exempt from mid-project disputes, a potential headache if the overseas web design agency you hire leaves a project before completing the contract, as originally stated. You can avoid this problem by hiring local, or at least ensure you have the best security the law provides. Another benefit is the agency's reliability. Which is easier to test when you can look up past customers and contact them directly for reassurance that your Hobart based web design agency is serious in their commitment to your business.

Post-launch services

Another huge benefit of hiring a web design service in Hobart is the post-launch support they can provide. While an overseas agency will likely do the minimum work expected for the project to succeed, a local agency will try to establish a long-lasting relationship with you and your business. They'll not only build your website, they'll probably help you. Its actually in their best interest to see you succeed over the longer term because happy customers make for very good referrals in the future.

Is a Local Web Design Hobart Agency Right for You?

Many benefits come from working with a local web design agency, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a local agency is right for you.

Quality is undoubtedly worth it, and spending more for a professional service you can count on will almost certainly save you time, money and potential headaches in the long run. If you’re on a shoestring budget or you trust a particular overseas agency, then outsourcing isn’t necessarily a bad idea. However, local web design agencies offer peace of mind. To some, that’s priceless.

If you’re looking for a web design agency in Hobart or have any questions about working with a local agency, get in touhttps://fortewebdesign.com.au/contact/ch with us at the link below.

There is much more to designing a website than you might first think. When you look around its not hard to see some websites that stand out for their better design and easy to understand messages and content.

We take you through the 7 steps for how to design a website.

1. Identify your site's purpose

When I work with clients the first thing I'm trying to understand, apart from what their business is about, is why do they want a new website design and what are they hoping the website will do for them?

2. Define the scope of the project

Defining the scope of your new website design is critical if you want to mark your against milestones and tick boxes to show you are progressing your project. Something called 'scope creep' can easily happen where, as you are working through the project, you see new things to add or change along the way. Each of these changes can extend out the time it takes to complete your project. In a commercial environment, extending the time it takes to deliver a project means the cost of the project goes up and the deadline has to be adjusted outward. You should always try where ever possible to stick to your original project scope and jot great ideas down on white board for consideration once completed.

3. Mapping out your site and Wireframing

Mapping out your site sounds like a no brainer, especially when all you want to do is jump right in and start building amazing looking webpages. But the smartest thing you can do early on is step away from the keyboard and pick up a pen/pencil and paper. Carrying on from the site purpose and scope definition you are at that point where you need to clarify the site structure. Starting with the homepage, consider what other high level pages you will need branching off. What should the topics of these being, what layout of the page and so on. I like to have a page dedicated to each topic for purposes of better Search Engine Optimisation but often a client will want to reduce costs, at least initially, and will opt to place lots of topics onto something like a 'Services' page. This is fine but be aware that with so many different items being described, it does get confusing for a search engine to work out what your page is all about. If this happens I believe its best to make the Service page describe what your high level service is, ie: a plumber provides plumbing services, so we'd describe this. Then when we get to the sub-services, drain clearage, water heater replacement, tap repair, 24 hour emergency service and so on, then I would keep the summary of each of these to a minimum and talk to the client about expanding each of these out eventually to their own separate page.

Once you have this down on paper, start sketching out boxes on your paper to show how you would like the sections to be layed out. Scribble notes to yourself about what features you want, ie: bold <h1> Title, and even feel free to set down what fonts and font styles you will want. Keeping in mind you usually won't want more than two font families on a site, Serif fonts are fine for heading texts but Sans Serif are clearer and easier to read on body/paragraph text.

4. Creating your content

You should know have some very clear ideas in your mind about what content you want on each page and how the layout of each page.

With your writing, keep in mind that you want to make it interesting and descriptive for humans, but be sure to identify what your keywords are for the topic and make sure to use these a few times through out your text. This helps the search engines to understand better what the page is all about.

5. Getting visual

Page layout is all about making things interesting to the eye, so you don't lose your visitor too quickly, but also providing easy, readable material they can digest. This means getting it right with what images and/or icons you will need.

Now is the time to start bringing all these images and icons together to fit in and around your writing copy. With images, its always best if you can provide these yourself. For starters this is one of the cheapest options out there but also it means you own the copyright to the images. If you would prefer stock images then check out unsplash.com for a great supply of high quality free images.

6. Building the site

Here at Forte Web Design we use WordPress. With well over 30% of the internet using WordPress its a safe bet that this content management system platform is robust and secure. But with so many other options out there for web design you may have different ideas. We live in a great time that there is so much choice!

Start laying down your website pages, one by one. This should be a fast process since you will have plenty of paper diagrams and notes to go from. Make sure the header of your site conveys important information like your business logo and contact details. And that there is a menu bar or menu icon making it easy for the visitor to navigate your site. Also be sure to add a footer section at the bottom as this is an opportunity to place a lot of this information at the bottom. You don't really want your visitor to have to scroll to the top of page to get your number.

7. Testing

Now comes the fun part! Test your site from the highest level pages to the lowest. Click on all of the links and make sure they behave as they are suppose to. Check the font sizes, weights and colours across all pages for consistency and also keep an eye on overall site design so that there is a consistent look and feel across the site.

A key tip I always follow is to grab a pad and pen then write down my changes for correction later. This means I'm not stop/starting the analytical process and keeps my brain more in the 'now' of testing.

Once you're happy with how it all looks and works, view it on a tablet and then on a mobile phone. Does it still look and behave as expected? If not, fix these issues. When you think you are really ready, ask a friend or two. Its likely they will use a different browser to you and a device with a different viewport size. Any feedback that they can provide is worthwhile. You'd rather a friend point out the faults than a potential customer.

8. Website launch

Once you believe everything is working as it should be, go ahead and advertise the fact. The search engines will eventually get links to your site and crawl it for information to be indexed, or you can speed up the process either by creating an account with Google Web Master (Bing have a similar tool) and then submitting your sitemap for indexing. Premium SEO plugins can also submit the sitemap on your behalf.

If you want to fast track exposure to your new site, paid advertising is always a good way to start. This gets your site out there for everyone to see.

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