SPF records are a simple yet powerful tool to safeguard your email domain from the spam folder and to combat spammers.
But it can be confusing to learn how to set them up and make sure your domain is configured correctly.
In this article, we'll explain what SPF records are and how to add them step by step for Google and Office 356 accounts.
An SPF record (Sender Policy Framework) is an email authentication system that mail servers use to make sure that emails that appear to come from your domain actually do come from you.
Basically, it’s designed to stop phishing attempts and scammers from sending fake messages that claim to be from legit domains.
Technically, you don’t have to set up an SPF record in order to send emails. But it adds a layer of security to your campaigns, which makes your domain more trustworthy to ISPs (internet service providers).
This makes it more likely that your emails stay out of spam.
That’s why it’s so important to set up an SPF record: to protect your domain from spoofing, and to keep your cold emails out of spam.
An SPF record simply identifies the mail servers that are allowed to send messages from your domain. It’s a type of DNS TXT (Domain Name System ”text”) with a list of APIs, software, etc., that you’ve approved to send messages on your behalf.
It looks like this: v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all
The syntax is divided into a version prefix and one or several mechanisms 👇
The version prefix simply explains that this TXT record is to be used for SPF checking, and the mechanism specifies what the SPF is checking for.
Here are the possible qualifiers that could exist in an SPF record:
Technically, you can create multiple SPF records, but it can generate an “SPF PermError,” which will harm your email deliverability.
So, before doing anything, always check if the SPF record has already been set up. If the answer is yes and you still want to add your primary domain, there's a way to merge the original record with the new one.
All you have to do is copy/paste your new SPF record in front of the old one and separate them with a single space.
For example, to add Outlook to the SPF example we included in the previous section, it would look like this: v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com include:spf.protection.outlook.com ~all
If you’re using lemlist, it takes less than a minute to check if your SPF record is good to go.
(If you don’t have an account yet, you can sign up here, for free.)
First, go to your dashboard and find the Health tab, under Reports 👇
Next, open the DNS Checks tab and click on “Refresh checks.”
In a couple seconds, you’ll get a full overview of not only your SPF record, but also your MX exchanges, DMARC record, Email tests, and your Spamassassin score.
Of course, if you see the green “All good” sign, then your SPF formatting is already set up and protecting you from scammers and the spam folder.
If it needs configuring, all you have to do is follow the steps below.
If Microsoft Office 365 is your email provider, here’s how to set up your SPF record for the relevant server.
We’ll start with a simple process you can follow for any domain provider, then add more specific details for popular domain providers like Namecheap, Cloudflare, and Bluehost.
No matter what domain hosting you use right now, there are only a few steps to follow to validate your Microsoft Office 365 SPF:
And save it!
If you're using Namecheap, here are more specific steps:
SPF configuration for Microsoft Office 365 and Cloudflare
To configure your SPF record for Microsoft Office in Cloudflare, here's what to do:
Finally, here are the steps to input your Office 365 SPF record in Bluehost:
Now, here’s how you can add your Google domain to the SPF record mechanism for your domain provider.
No matter what domain provider you use right now, follow the steps below to validate your SPF.
You can also check in the documents and tutorials of your domain provider itself to see if they already give instructions on how to configure your SPF.
Save it to publish it!
If you’re using Namecheap, here are the steps to add Google to your SPF record:
For Cloudflare users, here’s how to add Google to the SPF TXT record.
Finally, for Bluehost users, here’s how to add your Google domain:
Need more technical resources to help you get your technical setup in tip-top shape? Follow the guides below:
How-to: DKIM setup tutorials
How-to: Set up your DMARC
How-to: Set up your MX records
Complete guide: Audit of your email sending reputation and deliverability
Video tutorial: DKIM mechanism setup video tutorial
And if you're looking for an all-in one tool to manage and send multichannel cold outreach campaigns, with a deliverability booster and a DNS dashboard, give lemlist a try for free.