This is a fairly techy post but something that I’ve been asked about much more frequently of late. The could be a number of reasons why you’d need to update or add to a record, but from a VA’s point of view, it’s very often to do with using third party email clients, such as Google Apps or email marketing software. It’s particularly useful if you are planning to send mail shots or marketing emails to a database of clients, as it should reduce the chance that these emails with end up in their junk email folder.
Now, before we go any further, it’s important to point out that although this is, in theory, a fairly simple task, you do need to know what you’re doing and should be confident working in the cPanel of your domain host. If that all sounds like like jibberish to you, you might consider contacting your website technician for help rather than attempting it yourself because if you don’t configure the record correctly it can be quite detrimental to the sender reputation and can result in your emails not being delivered.
That being said, there are many small business owners who will self host their websites and don’t have somebody supporting their websites, and this is where you may be approached to help. It’s easy enough to learn if you have some degree of technical understanding, if you’re still not confident you can try contacting the support team of your domain host who will usually help.
Disclaimer: It’s worth also pointing out this article is intended to help virtual assistants who are looking to assist their clients with adding a record when the need arises as part of the setup of email marketing or CRM software and is considered a brief overview on the subject It is not an in depth discussion on the technical aspects of email deliverability or DNS records and how and when to use them.
First of all, what is an SPF record? An SPF record is a type of Domain Name Service (DNS) record that identifies which mail servers are permitted to send email on behalf of your domain.
The purpose of an SPF record is to prevent spammers from sending messages with forged From addresses at your domain. Recipients mail servers can automatically refer to the SPF record to determine whether a message purporting to be from your domain comes from an authorized mail server.
So essentially, if you were to set up an SPF record saying that VirtualAssistant.com was your chosen mail server for your domain, if the message coming from your domain comes from another mail server the recipients email server can automatically reject the email as spam. Thus being more secure for your database of users. Ultimately, this makes your domain less attractive to spammers. As a result, your legitimate email is less likely to be identified as spam and your domain is less likely to be blacklisted by spam filters.
Each different domain host will have slightly differing ways to add an SPF record. This walkthrough will describe how to do it on three of the major hosts, GoDaddy 123-Reg and Bluehost.
Where do I find details of the SPF record?
So in the context we are talking about here, you are likely to to be given the settings to use by the software you will sending from. As an example, some of our clients use Google Apps within their business, and have their email addresses linked to here. As part of the setup Google Apps will provide the settings that you need to use to setup your SPF record.
So here is how to do it:
First off, GoDaddy:
- Login to your GoDaddy account and click on the domain you want to modify the records.
- Launch the DNS Manager:
- Scroll down to TXT (Text) section.
- Create a new TXT record by clicking the Quick add button.
- Set the Host Field to the name of your subdomain (e.g. “VirtualAssistant” if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org), or to @ if you do not use a subdomain.
- Fill the TXT Value Field with your SPF record. You can use the code here, but replace the YOURSERVER.COM with the server that you are using. (e.g. v=spf1 a mx include:COM ~all).
- Click on the ‘Save Zone File’ button at the top of the page.
- You will need to generate the record first this can be done at spfwizard.net but generally you’ll be given the details to use by the software or CRM system that you are sending emails in.
- Once you have the record, you will need to apply it to your domain name. Open your 123-reg control panel.
- In the Domain names section, select the relevant domain name in the drop-down list and click on the ‘Manage’ button.
4. Scroll down to the Advanced Domain Settings section and click on the ‘Manage DNS (A, MX, CNAME, TXT)’ link:5. Click the Advanced DNS tab.6. Select TXT/SPF from the Type drop down list in the Add new entry7. In the Hostname field enter an @ symbol.
- In the Destination TXT/SPF field enter your SPF record that you generated in step 1.
Note: If you are using 123 email, then you should use the following SPF record: v=spf1 mx a ip4:184.108.40.206 a:mailex.mailcore.me -all.
- Click on the‘Add new entry’ button to save the new record.
Now onto Bluehost:
This is going to be slightly less visual than the other two, but hopefully it will still make sense.
SPF records are added to your Zone File as TXT records. Keep in mind that, by default Bluehost adds an SPF record to your zone file for each domain; so if you want to add another record, it’s best to delete the default one from inside your Control Panel.
- Log in to your Bluehost control panel.
- Go to the Domains menu at the top and click the Zone Editor sub menu.
- Select your domain name from the drop-down.
- If you’re removing an existing SPF record, scroll down to find it in the TXT record section to find it and click Delete.
- To add a new SPF record, enter this information under Add DNS Record at the top of the Zone Editor:
- Name: Type your domain name (without the www)
- TTL: 14400
- Type: TXT
- TXT Value: This is where you would paste in your new SPF record. You can generate a new SPF record at spfwizard.net which helps greatly if you do not understand the code required.
- Click Add Record.
Hopefully you are now able to add an SPF record to your database. Remember if you aren’t sure, or if the domain host you are using isn’t included here, you can always contact their technical support team who will be able to guide you on where to add the information.