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8/03/2008 - PlanetMagpie, WOOF! Article
How to Protect Email Addresses Posted on your Website

- WOOF!, August 2008 PlanetMagpie Newsletter

Many companies post email addresses on their websites. So potential customers can request information, get support, give feedback, etc.

And all of these email addresses can be harvested by spammers.

Spammers use automated tools to scan websites for that familiar YourName@YourDomain.com address. They can scan thousands of sites every day, all in the name of finding more emails to spam. Like yours.

Want to find out how this email encoder page protects you from spam?

How do you stop this? Well, the simple answer is not to post any email addresses on your website. But that shuts out your visitors – which makes it harder for them to become customers, doesn't it?

There are a few methods of protecting email addresses on a website. For one, you could put a "Contact Us" form on your site. You've seen these before. Setup doesn't take long, and your email addresses are safe from spammers.

But a "Contact Us" form has an inherent problem: users sometimes skip “Contacting You” if it means they have to fill out a form. Forms remind us of the DMV. Our instant gratification wants us to simply click a link, have an email pop open, and dash off our note.

A more effective way (and one more people respond to) is to encode your email address.

This is a two-step process. First you convert the email address to hexadecimal, a type of basic computer language. Then you change the link text on the website (the part visitors see on the page) to something direct, like "Email John." Instead of repeating the email address.

For Step 1 you need an encoder. This is a small application which takes your email address and converts it over to hexadecimal. For example, my email address looks like this when encoded:

chris.w&
#105;lliams@&
#112;lanetma&
#103;pie.com

You and I can't make sense of it, but a computer will understand it just fine.

We've put a simple encoder up for our customers' use here: PlanetMagpie Email Encoder

Step 2 involves plugging this code into your website's HTML in place of your email address, and changing the link text so it doesn't mention your email either. Many people will repeat the email address, so anyone reading (or spam-scanning) the site will see YourName@YourDomain.com right there in the text!

Avoid this by replacing the link text with something more direct. Like, if you're posting Mary's email so people can ask her about a new product, write “Email Mary about Product X” as her email's link text. Spam-Scan thwarted!

And that's how you stop spammers from harvesting email addresses off your website. Without making it any harder for visitors to contact you.
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