how to remove your ip from gmail blacklist

How to Remove Your IP from the Gmail Blacklist

gmail blacklist

Don’t risk email delivery. Learn how to get off and stay off Gmail’s Blacklist.

Is Gmail refusing to talk to you?

If your email is being blocked by Gmail, then someone or some application has spammed them.

You may say, “Hey, I am not a spammer,” but Gmail does not care too much about what you say about the email you send them.  They based their blacklisting decisions on a number of parameters.  If you trigger one of these, then your email may get blocked.

Fortunately, I am getting ready to tell you my tips on how to remove your IP from the Gmail Blacklist.

Why Was I Blacklisted?

Gmail does not publicly disclose their email filtering policies, but a key feature used by almost all email filtering systems is sender reputation. Sender reputation attempts to place a score on how likely email originating from your server is going to be spam. Scoring methods are complex. While I don’t know Gmail’s specific methods, most systems take into account:

  • Email Volume
  • Complaint Rates
  • Spam Trap Hits
  • Changes in Email Volume
  • History of IP Address
  • Blacklistings
  • Bounce rates
  • Email Sent to Unknown Users
  • Total Email Volume
  • IP Neighborhood

All of these factors go into determining your sender score. I recommend you always check your sender score before doing any blacklist removal requests. Many ISPs rely on sender score from ReturnPath, so I always check it there. Even if Google does not use this directly, a low score there likely signals broader email delivery issues.

Top 4 Ways to Get Blacklisted

As part of our server support packages, we help a number of businesses get remove their IP from Gmail’s blacklist.

Outdated applications, especially PHP apps, are the number one way hackers use a server to send spam.

In our investigations, the most common reasons why Gmail blacklists your server are:

  • Compromised user account used to send spam.
  • Web application exploit used to send spam.
  • Bulk emailing from mailing lists, newsletters, forums & blogs (even if they are opt-in).
  • Bulk forwarding of email to Gmail.

The four items account for about 95% of all spam cases we investigate

The first two are security issues. Poor passwords and outdated web applications are hacker favorites. In either case, a compromise can mean 10,000’s of emails get sent to Gmail in a matter of hours. Such a breach will certainly land your server’s IP on their blacklist.

Another source of blacklisting is notices from forums, blogs or newsletters. Even if the person subscribed to the email and you provide opt-out information, Gmail may still flag your email as spam.

Lastly, forwarding large amounts of email to Gmail can trigger a blacklisting. We see this when people forward email blindly to Gmail. They then mark the email as spam. The result is that your server’s sending reputation is penalized since it was the one that last sent the email. This is a commonly overlooked reason for blacklist inclusion.

Double Check DNS

If your DNS is not correct, you may have email delivery issues — even if you found no malicious activity.

DNS goes beyond just having a MX record. You need to check and verify the following:

  • Sending server’s hostname resolves
  • Reverse DNS (PTR) for your email server
  • SPF, if present, is correct
  • DKIM, if used, is correct
  • Domains used in email headers resolve

You can use tools like IntoDNS and DNSStuff to verify your DNS Is correct.

Are You a Server Admin?

Without direct access to the logs, there’s not a lot you can do as an end user — except pester your system administrator.
If you are not a server administrator, then the tips below may not help you much.

These tips are for system and email administrators who have access to their email servers logs. If you are a end user or use Google Apps, then you will need to contact Google directly for assistance.

If you are a server admin, don’t just jump to where I have the URL for the Gmail blacklist removal form.

If you don’t fix the issue, you will just get re-listed – perhaps permanently.

Blacklist vs Spam Folder

So your email is going into Gmail’s Spam folder?

Great news. You are not blacklisted.

If you are blacklisted, your email will be rejected with a 421 or 550 SMTP error. You can spot this in your email server’s logs:

Example of a 550 Error:

Remote_host_said:_550-5.7.1 Our_system_has_detected_an_unusual_rate_of
 unsolicited_mail_originating_from_your_IP_address.
 _To_protect_our users_from_spam,_mail_sent_from_your_IP_address_has_been_blocked.
 Please_visit_http://www.google.com/mail/help/bulk_mail.html
 _to_review_our_Bulk_Email_Senders_Guidelines

Example of a 412 Error:

421-4.7.0 unsolicited mail originating from your IP address.
To protect our\n421-4.7.0users from spam, mail sent from your IP address has been temporarily\n4
21-4.7.0 rate limited.  Please visit http://www.google.com/mail/help/bulk_mail.\n421 4.7.0 html
to review our Bulk Email Senders Guidelines. l41si55243084eef.158 - gsmtp

If you see either of these errors, then you are blacklisted and you can work on getting off the list.

Deciphering Gmail SMTP Errors

The SMTP errors that Gmail provides are key to mapping your path to getting off of Gmail’s blacklist.

For email delivery, the two main error codes are 421 and 550 errors.

421 Errors

421 errors are often temporary blocks. Most email servers will attempt to resend the email if they get a 421 error. If you quickly correct a spam or email flood issue, these blocks may resolve automatically. Left unchecked, Google may decide to block your email entirely.

550 Errors

550 errors are permanent failures. If you scan your logs for 550 errors from Gmail, they will often include links and additional information.

If you have 550 errors, you will likely need to take action before Gmail will remove your server IP address.

Requesting Blacklist Removal

If you do not fix the problem first, your removal request will likely be ignored. You don’t want to give the Gmail team any reason not to approve your request. So make sure everything is in order.

Just so you know …  Google does not want you to contact them.

Their forms are buried behind a series our questions that typically lead nowhere. Most of the time you will start with Gmail’s “My domain is having delivery problems with Gmail” form. As you answer the questions, you will typically end up in a dead-end.

However, with the right sequence of answers, you can eventually wind your way to:

Report a delivery problem between your domain and Gmail.

This is where the action happens.   Complete the form in detail but do not be overly verbose.

Once submitted, you can expect it to take 3-7 days to process. Often, you will not hear back from Gmail. Your email will simply start flowing again – provided you fixed the reason you were blacklisted in the first place.

Bulk Senders

Sometimes you have a lot of email – legitimate email – to send. Google does not clearly define what is bulk email. Typically, you will see an SMTP error code in the 400 series, such as:

421, "4.7.0", Our system has detected an unusual rate of unsolicited mail originating from your IP address. 

To protect our users from spam, mail sent from your IP address has been temporarily blocked. 

Review our Bulk Email Senders Guidelines.

If you receive this message, be sure to review Google’s Bulk Sender Guidelines and then complete the Bulk Sender Contact Form.

Tricks to Getting Removed

We work on email delivery issues nearly daily. In our experience, if you do not fix these issues, your chances of getting removed from Gmail or any other blacklist is minimal.

  • Reverse DNS Must Resolve to a Valid Hostname
  • Your Server’s Hostname Must Have a DNS ‘A’ Record
  • Do not blindly forward email to Gmail
  • Make Sure DKIM/SPF are correct
  • Stop the spamming!

You must make sure that whatever triggered the listing in the first place is stopped. If you  do not, you will simply be re-listed.

Get Help!

If all of this seems too much, then we can help.

We provide blacklist removal services for people using CentOS, Red Hat, Plesk and cPanel servers. Most cases require a Level  2 or 3 Support Package ($250/$350).

While we cannot guarantee results, we are successful in more than 98% of cases (100% successful so far in 2014).

Note that we have no formal relationship with Google or maintain their blacklist.

We just know how to fix email problems correctly.

 

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Jeff is the CEO and founder of rackAID. He has been working in hosting industry since the days of Rackshack's famed customer appreciation parties back in the early 2000's. Jeff is an avid cyclist, wine enthusiast, and admitted Kraftwerk listener (please don't hold that against him). You may spot him at any number of hosting, startup and small business conferences

11 Comments

  • Someone grateful :) November 2, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Thanks for the write-up , I submitted a request to get my company off the spam list so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  • Cam Balkon February 10, 2011 at 8:23 am

    thnks for share great works

  • Jeff H. February 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

    @wissam
    Make sure your DNS is correct and that the server’s hostname resolves properly.

    With some dedicated server providers, they fail to setup basic DNS. So I would check that.

    A quick check of blacklists, does not show any issues.
    Use these tools to check your server’s reputation:
    https://www.senderscore.org/

    And blacklist:
    http://www.mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx

  • vigilant February 22, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Have long since resolved problems that caused blacklisting by Google.  Not blacklisted by anyone else.  I there no way to get a status?  I’m not even sure that their “report a delivery problem..” form even gets to them!

  • Jeffrey Huckaby May 24, 2011 at 9:31 am

    @Vijay
    Your server’s sending reputation may be low and/or your DNS is not configured properly.  Dealing with email routing to the spam folder is a bit beyond this blog post/comment section.  See. https://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=81126 for more details.

    @Bryant
    Typically takes 1-5 business days depending on if your server is still causing issues or not.  The main thing is to stop the behavior causing the initial listing.

  • Bryant May 31, 2011 at 1:00 am

    @Jeff

    Gmail just allow me to send 5 emails after they removed my IP from their “blacklisted list”

    But those email still deliver into Junk mail box.

    any idea?
    what DNS setting can be as reference?

  • Matt July 16, 2011 at 5:15 am

    I’m still blacklisted from gmail after I put in a request. What an I do now? it’s been more than 5 days since the request.

  • Jeffrey Huckaby July 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Spam box issues—this is beyond the scope of this blog post but search for “email sender reputation” in Google. 

    @Matt
    If you are still blacklisted, then they are likely still getting complaints from your server or network environment.  You have to find and stop the cause and be sure the forms have all necessary information. 

    I you are certain emails are stopped, then re-file after 7 days.

  • Eric Gillette August 22, 2011 at 4:34 am

    For those having delivery issues who aren’t blacklisted (i.e. delivery into the spam folder), try creating SPF records, and also signing with DomainKeys or DKIM.  This I find helps with delivery to the inbox substantially.

  • Jon May 1, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Hi, I use a WordPress plugin called FS Contact Form and I’ve been having problems with clients not being able to get their emails in to me. I’m not a spammer and I’m not blacklisted, but it’s still definitely an issue. Do you have any kind of support for this sort of problem? I’m wondering if it’s a DNS problem but I’m not sure.

    • Jeff Huckaby May 1, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      Without more details it is difficult to say.

      In terms of testing, there are several things to ask:
      Is the plugin actually generating the email? If you do not see the email being injected into the email queue (check the mail server logs), then the problem is likely within your WP install or PHP configuration and not the mail server.
      If you see the email in the mail queue, what happens to it? You can trace this by tracking the message to the logs.

      You don’t have to be a spammer to get blocked at Gmail. They block for a number of reasons — modern filtering relies heavily on behavior tracking. So you send 20 emails to Gmail and 10 of them are to unknown users, you would be consider a bad sender at this point. If a bot hits your contact forms and spoofs emails, this can easily happen. So there’s all sorts of nefarious activities that can cause email delivery problems.

      We can help if you have full root access to your server and use Linux or CentOS. If you do not use your own server, then ask your provider.

      Lastly, don’t forget to check the Junk folders.