05 May 2014
Online Chat Software - IP Blacklist for Better Website Traffic Quality
Blacklists are the unsung heroes of the internet that guard our virtual gateways from the ravenous hordes of spam. Metaphors aside, backlisting/whitelisting is one of the most underused and powerful countermeasures.
The beauty of blacklists is that anybody who owns their own email server can set one up. They can then make the list public for other server administrators to see and use. Naturally, this has its drawbacks as some lists could be populated by overzealous or petty administrators. Some of the more reputable blacklists include SpamCop, Spamhaus and URIBL. Do note that these generally use a threshold system that delists servers after a cool-down period. If you intend on borrowing a blacklist, borrow it from one of these.
How Blacklists Work
Say you ask your customers to sign up for a free newsletter but then take too long to send your first issue out. There is a good chance that you recipients will forget that they opted in and flag your news item as spam. Keep this activity up over a longer period and you risk having your IP blacklisted as spam by one of these major providers. If you perform mail blasts through a provider, then it only takes one misbehaving spammy customer to ruin it for everyone else. On occasion, blacklists will even ban an entire block of IP addresses (i.e. block all email from all servers within a set range).
Leveraging the Blacklist Function
While blacklists were conceived to counter spammers, their functionality can be applied to a variety of circumstances. For example, if your servers are being subject to a DDOS attack, then a blacklist is an immediate stop-gap solution while you try and work out the exact range of IPs attacking you.
Blacklists can also be a useful business tool. If your organisation provides a product or service that stirs up a lot of global interest but is specifically aimed at the UK you can choose to block other countries by IP. Though quite a drastic measure, this could help your sales team to focus on only the hottest leads.
This would likewise prove beneficial from an SEO perspective; limiting access to your website by country could encourage Google to align your website with those regions. This type of traffic optimisation could see your bounce rate drop and conversion percentage increase.
In certain situations, such as for internal messaging, a whitelist might be preferable to a blacklist. As the name suggests, a whitelist only allows pre-defined IPs to pass through. This is quite an extreme measure and you might only want to enable it for certain time periods, such as when testing, but it’s another useful variation on the blacklist function.
Blacklisting with Live Chat Software
Blacklisting should be included with most software but is particular important when dealing with the public. As an online chat software provider our clients can choose to hide the live chat button from undesirable IP addresses to ensure that operators only speak to genuine customers.