5 Steps to Repair a Bad Domain Reputation With Gmail

5 Steps to Repair a Bad Domain Reputation With Gmail - mailmonitor

Having a bad domain or IP reputation is a critical problem in email marketing. Your domain and IP reputation are the first two things that email service providers look into when a user sends an email. These providers assess one’s sending history and the reputation of the IP address, and the domain they are using.

While IP reputation is still important, a growing number of users are now relying more on domain reputation to assess their overall email reputation. Domain reputation is now more significant than ever, and it has already become a major factor when it comes to deliverability.

What Is Domain Reputation?

Domain reputation is the standing of a web domain based on its history of sending emails and the ratio of engagement they receive from those messages. You can think of it as the overall health of a domain according to how favorable email service providers interpret it.

Various factors such as email bounce rates, spam complaint rates, and engagement affect domain reputation. In order for receiving email servers to determine a domain’s reputation, it keeps track of these factors, including the performance of emails once they reach their target destinations.

According to such data, major internet service providers (ISPs) leverage advanced algorithms that will ultimately provide the domain a score. It then checks against that score as it goes through consequent emails to assess whether a sender can be trusted.

In other words, the higher the domain reputation one receives from a specific mailbox provider, the lower the probability that messages will be sent to the spam and junk folders or outright rejected. Bad domain reputation, on the other hand, has the opposite effect.

What Is the Difference Between Domain Reputation and IP Reputation?

Each email that is sent from a computer, mobile device, or server comes with an identifying address unique to a specific sender. These identifiers are known as IP addresses. An IP address is easy to link back to a certain sender, which makes it an ideal way to identify someone in terms of their sender reputation.

As you may have guessed, IP reputation is assessed on the IP level. There are variables that affect IP reputation, such as having a brand new IP address, using a shared one, or having a dedicated address.

For instance, an email marketer who sends from a shared IP address may be seen with a bad Gmail domain reputation because of the negative actions performed by other email senders using the same IP. This could easily result in mailbox providers choosing to block you from sending messages to their clients.

This problem of sharing IP addresses is the main reason why companies that have high message sending volumes tend to favor dedicated IPs. The advantage of using a dedicated IP address is that it separates you from the email reputation of others within your network, thus helping avoid dips in email reputation and deliverability.

On the other hand, we have domain reputation. If IP reputation is assessed on the IP level, then the domain reputation is factored on the domain level. What makes domain reputation unique is that it also factors in the IP address of the user along with their email sending behavior. So long as a user stays with the same domain, their reputation will remain the same even if they switch to a new IP address.

How to Check Your Domain Reputation With Google Postmaster Tools

Google Postmaster Tools is one of the most notable email service receivers that share their internal reputation score for domains. Checking your domain reputation on the platform is free so long as you have reached a certain threshold of email sending volume to generate sufficient data.

With Google, you’ll be provided a precise reputation grade that has a direct effect on how you deliver messages to your contacts in Gmail. Any changes in your Postmaster Tools domain reputation can be linked directly to your email deliverability with Gmail recipients.

To start using Google Postmaster Tools, you need to first sign in with your Google account or create one. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Log in to your Postmaster Tools account.
  2. From the bottom right corner, click on the ‘Add’ button with the plus sign.
  3. Input your authentication domain. It’s possible to incorporate your SPF or DKIM domain depending on your needs.
  4. Click the ‘Next’ button and then verify your domain in the following step. Keep in mind that verifying your domain can take some time to complete.

Once your domain has been verified, you can share access to your Postmaster Tools data with any of your colleagues so long as they have a Google account. You can also interpret the numbers on your own by analyzing the information provided on the dashboard.

Besides Postmaster Tools, another domain reputation tool you can use to check your standing is Talos. This platform made by Cisco lets you learn about your domain reputation but also your email server IP reputation as well.

Interpreting the Details from the Postmaster Tools Dashboard

Postmaster Tools will provide you with different dashboards containing the various data about your Gmail domain reputation. You can use the information presented here to learn about your standing and find out how you can best send emails.

The following details will be presented to you:

IP reputation

When you have a high IP reputation, this means that your messages have a higher probability of avoiding the spam folder and instead arrive at your recipient’s inbox. A medium level of IP reputation means sending ideal emails but has been occasionally reported for spam. A low and bad IP reputation is when you have a considerable volume of emails receiving spam complaints, eventually leading to many of them being rejected right away.

Domain reputation

Your domain reputation is similar to IP reputation, except it addresses the overall standing of the domain you’re using. When you have a high domain reputation, your emails will have a higher chance of reaching their intended inboxes.

Spam rate

Your spam rate is the number of emails that have been marked as spam by your recipients. Postmaster Tools determines this against the number of emails that you sent to the inbox of active users. You might find your spam rate to be low despite having a high number of your messages sent straight to the spam folder and even if users are constantly reporting your emails as spam.

Delivery errors

The delivery errors graph keeps track and displays the number of emails that have failed temporarily or were rejected. It is assessed against all of the authenticated traffic from a sender. A few reasons why an email can fail include being suspected as spam, having bad or unsupported attachments, reaching the maximum mailing rate, and having an extremely low IP or domain reputation.


The encryption dashboard displays the amount of both inbound and outbound traffic that has been encrypted.


Your authentication dashboard details the number of your messages that have passed SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication protocols. It is analyzed against all received traffic that attempted to obtain authentication.

Feedback loop

The feedback loop dashboard can only be accessed once you’ve configured your Gmail Spam Feedback Loop. You can select any data point from the feedback loop graph to see all of the flagged identifiers.

How to Repair Bad Domain Reputation and Avoid Gmail’s Junk Folder

You can expect most of your emails to fail in reaching their intended inboxes if you find that you already have a bad domain reputation with Gmail. The good news is that there is still hope of fixing this problem by applying these techniques:

Step 1: Identify and Assess the Damage

The first thing that you need to do is to identify what’s causing you to have a bad domain reputation with Gmail so you can pinpoint what needs to be fixed. You should then assess the damage to find out its extent.

Identifying reputation-based problems can be difficult for most marketers. The good news is that Google Postmaster Tools allows you to analyze your email performance. The platform lets you dig deeper into deliverability problems and any spam complaints, allowing you to see what exactly is causing the issues.

Step 2: Use Authentication Protocols

Authenticating your emails is one of the most significant ways you can improve your domain reputation and your email deliverability. This is because the receiving mail servers will see that you are a legitimate sender and will trust your authentication protocol, thus allowing most of your emails to reach their recipients.

Most email service providers would recommend senders to get domain validation using Sender Policy Framework or SPF as well as DomainKeys Identified Mail or DKIM. These two methods are extremely popular because they have been proven throughout the years that they can confirm legitimate senders in the eyes of domain reputation analysis systems.

Furthermore, most mailbox providers use these verification techniques as a means to validate a domain. These methods have become so prevalent that some providers would even ask senders to first set up their SPF and DKIM credentials before they can send emails to their customers.

The main idea behind domain authentication is to protect you from shady individuals who may use your domain reputation for their malicious deeds.

Step 3: Setup a Subdomain for Email Campaigns

You already learned that inbox providers such as Gmail label each sender according to their email reputation by how well their contacts interact with their messages.

If your users are constantly engaged with your email marketing campaign, Gmail will believe that you are most likely following the best practices in sending emails. However, users who are sending negative signals, such as sending a spam complaint or sending your message to the junk folder, then your Gmail domain reputation will fall.

Fortunately, the reputation of your domain, as well as that of your subdomains, are calculated separately. This means that if you have a bad reputation with one subdomain, using a secondary subdomain will let you send messages that will not share the same reputation as the first.

That’s why many email campaign platforms recommend that users set up and use a subdomain to avoid experiencing hampered email deliverability in case something goes wrong.

Step 4: Build and Send Only to Permission-Based Email Lists

Once you have set up your authentication protocols and subdomain for your email campaigns, the next thing to do is to develop a permission-based mailing list. Sending messages to a list that you purchased from a third-party provider is one of the easiest ways you can harm your sending reputation.

Reputable email service providers are always on the lookout for marketers sending to rented or purchased email lists and try their best to prevent such actions.

To achieve and maintain a good domain reputation, you should only send messages to lists that have openly expressed their interest in your emails. One way you can guarantee this is to incorporate an opt-in checkbox in your forms.

A permission-based mailing list is one of the best assets a good email marketer can have in their portfolio. Sending to these lists will help you manage your sending reputation while helping avoid hindering your email deliverability.

Step 5: Keep a Balanced Sending Frequency

Finally, you want to maintain an ideal balance when sending out emails to your recipients.

Sending at least more than 100 emails each day is required before email service providers take notice and determine a sender’s reputation. If you’re using a new account and want to quickly assess your IP and domain reputation, you will need to send more than 100 emails per day.

However, you don’t want to go overboard in sending emails. Achieving the necessary threshold to get the standing you need but being reported mostly for spam is not going to do you any good.

That’s why you need to maintain a balanced sending frequency with new accounts and even with old ones. Your goal in fixing your bad Gmail domain reputation is to carefully select which contacts you want to send messages to.

Doing so not only helps reduce the chances of being reported as spam and other negative signals, but you can also slowly rebuild your domain reputation by acquiring positive responses from your recipients.

Be Proactive in Monitoring Your Mailing List

To help ensure that you have a good quality email list, you want to be proactive in monitoring it in the first place. Make sure that you respond to any spam complaints by not only changing any problematic mailing habits but also removing contacts who are no longer interested in receiving your emails.

You will know which of your recipients want out by looking at their engagement metrics. Pay close attention to those who haven’t responded, opened, or interacted with your emails in a long time.

Additionally, you should monitor email recipient responses such as the signals they are giving out and remove email addresses that have resulted in a soft bounce or hard bounce.

By following the tips provided above, you should be able to avoid triggering spam filters, spam traps and basically being reported as spam by users. Maintaining a clean email list may be time-consuming but will be worth it in the long run as it helps ensure you have a quality list of contacts you can send emails to.

We offer tools and features to help you monitor your emails and reduce negative rates that highly affect your sender reputation.