Spam Filter in Gmail: How Does It Work, How to Set Up, And How to Bypass

Author
Vladislav Podolyako
Published
06/23/2022
Reading duration
9m
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Spammers are getting increasingly tricky in their attempts to smuggle emails through your defense systems Gmailinbox. Luckily, so does the Gmail spam filter. Email service providers are responsible for tons of private data, including business correspondence, reports, and financial information. Therefore, they must keep up with cybercriminals’ shenanigans and constantly improve their defenses.

We at Belkins have dealt with numerous email clients and know everything about spam filtering. If you wish to know how to pump up your Gmail account, receive less junk mail, and create advanced Gmail spam filters on your own, keep on reading. No more email spam in your inbox!


How Does Gmail Spam Filter Work?

Before we proceed to the issue of how Gmail spam filter fights spammers, let’s figure out what spam is. Millions of internet users keep searching for how to stop Gmail spam and are so annoyed with the unstoppable flow of messages they start reporting spam any time they get any commercial offer. The truth is, it has nothing in common with a regular newsletter or cold B2B sales.

Spam is a malicious letter aiming to promote illegal or semilegal products and services, spread malware and viruses, and steal recipients' personal data (passwords, bank card data, contact lists, etc.).

A vivid feature of such emails is that you don’t know the sender and do not expect this kind of “special offer” in your inbox. It happens because the scoundrels get their email bases illegally, without recipients' permission. So, when you receive email messages from legitimate services you used or want to get discount updates from your favorite e-store, it is not spam. Also, a harmless letter usually has an unsubscribe link, so you can refuse to receive newsletters anytime. At the same time, unwanted emails from swindlers don’t contain them, include just plain text, or even hide links to dangerous resources there.

Nevertheless, even if your business is clean and you assembled the addresses list honestly, your legitimate email messages still have a chance to hit the spam folder. It happens when you don’t know precisely how spam filters do their job or don’t pay attention to email deliverability factors. 

Now, speaking of Gmail users, what do they need to know about Google's spam filter and its algorithm? Let’s figure it out.

  1. Link filters

    If there is a dark place on the Internet, it is a Gmail database of malicious links. Numerous scam sites and unpleasant resources dwell here. When you send a letter with a link attached, the algorithms search through the base and detect matches. Those letters that don't pass the test go to the spam folder.
  2. Content filters

    Dozens of years of email existence proved scammers operate in the same domains: dubious medicine, financial frauds with sky-high income promises, loans with unrealistic conditions, adult services, etc. That’s why the spam filter in Gmail relies on a standard list of several hundred stop words to sift out letters that include some of them.
  3. Spelling filters

    Decent addressers wouldn’t allow making spelling errors, right? That’s why bad grammar is one of the factors that the Gmail spam filter marks as suspicious. Clever rogues can trigger words with other symbols. All of this is monitored by AI to make your inbox free of nasty spammers.
  4. IP address reputation checks

    Gmail uses advanced IP address tracking. If a sender’s IP was noticed in suspicious activity, their address goes to a blacklist. The algorithm of Gmail scans the existing list and blocks the senders found there.
  5. Behavior tracking

    Google has been developing AI/ML technologies like no other company. How does it implement them in the fight against spam messages? Gmail catches suspicious patterns that spammers are bound to demonstrate in their targeting, mailing method, and email settings.

In case of an obvious threat, Gmail spam filters can literally shut down the malicious domain names and block them from sending emails, interrupting the entire delivery process. This is why many spammers won’t risk using Gmail to send emails.

To help AI/ML classifiers, Gmail uses automated Tensor Flow filters that sift through large volumes of incoming traffic, fishing out hidden spam and dangerous masked content. This sophisticated feature allows Gmail to process over 100,000,000 spam messages daily, ensuring that none of those letters go to your inbox. The same technology keeps you safe from phishing scams and malware.

How to Stop Spam Emails in Gmail and Other Spam Filter Settings

It is funny, but most Gmail users don’t know how they can improve their user experience. Belkins blog will not only assist in how to permanently stop spam emails on Gmail but ease your everyday email routine.

Creating your own Gmail Spam Filter

Some spammers are very inventions. They can bypass spam filters and bombard your inbox like it’s not a big deal. It also occurs when the senders change domains by making dozens of similar ones that differ in some symbols or top-level domains. You can redirect such emails to the trash and never recall them again.

So, how to stop getting spam emails in Gmail by making your own Gmail spam settings? All you need is this quick step-by-step guide.

  1. Log into your Gmail account.
  2. In the top right corner, click the gear button(Settings).
  3. Then, click See all settings below.
  4. You will see a window with a tab row. Find Filters and blocked addresses and pick it.
  5. In the center down, click on Create a new filter.
  6. Now you have a list of possible filters. Enter email addresses you don’t want to receive messages from in the section From. To prevent yourself from certain messages and topics, you may enter some stop words that are commonly used by unwanted addressers in the field Has the words.
  7. Click on Create filter
  8. Then, you will get a list of actions you can do with the emails that match the criteria you’ve picked on stage 6. If you wish such letters to pass the Gmail spam folder and fly directly to Trash, select an action Delete it. A less radical way to prevent opening a spam email is picking Skip the Inbox (Archive it).
  9. In the end, don’t forget to press Create filter.

How to Switch Off Spam Filtering in Gmail?

There are many reasons why users would like to disable the spam filter in Gmail. To do that, they need to follow the exact instructions.

  1. Make sure you are logged in to your Gmail account.
  2. Click the gear pictogram (Settings).
  3. Click See all settings below.
  4. Find Filters and blocked addresses and pick the tab.
  5. In the center below, click on Create a new filter.
  6. In the Has the words option, type in:spam (with no space).
  7. Click on Create filter down on the right.
  8. Finally, pick Never send it to Spam in the follow-up list of actions.
  9. To apply the filter, click Create filter.

This trick actually forwards all messages marked spam by Google to your inbox. Be careful with the letters you open.

How to Make Particular Incoming Messages Bypass Spam Filters

It happens that legitimate messages keep hitting a spam folder. Maybe the senders just don’t know how to create successful B2B emails and provide better deliverability. Gmail spam filter settings allow you to select the entire domain from which you need to receive letters. Here is how you can make your own approved sender list.

  1. Log into your Gmail account.
  2. In the top right corner, click the gear button(Settings).
  3. Then, click See all settings below.
  4. You will see a window with a tab row. Find Filters and blocked addresses and pick it.
  5. In the center down, click on Create a new filter.
  6. To whitelist senders from a certain domain, enter its name in the field From. For example, enter “@outlook.com” if you need to get every message from Outlook.
  7. Click on Create filter.
  8. Pick Never send it to Spam from the list.

Small bonus for a better Gmail experience. These settings also allow you to star, categorize, apply labels and even forward the filtered messages to other of your mailboxes.

Using Gmail in a working environment, you can apply advanced spam filtering to your entire organizational unit. For this, you must be an administrator in GSuite. After logging into your administrator account, follow these steps.

  1. Go to Gmail and pick Advanced settings.
  2. Choose your organization.
  3. Find the Spam section.
  4. Hover over the Spam setting, then click Configure.
  5. Pick the Bypass spam filters for messages received from addresses or domains within these approved senders lists box.
  6. To edit your approved sender list, hover over a particular list, click Edit, and click Add. Then, enter an email address or the entire domain name you want to safelist.
  7. Save.

What if the Gmail spam filter not working?

Even the most aggressive spam filtering can be helpless if your Google account is compromised. Fix the situation by resetting your password.

Another common reason why spam settings fail is overridden filters. How to fix it?

  1. Go to Settings in your Gmail account and pick See all settings.
  2. Click the Inbox tab.
  3. Scroll to the bottom.
  4. In the field Filtered mail, ensure the option Don't override filters is checked.
  5. Click Save changes. Now you won’t receive emails from blocked addresses.

Make Your Emails Pass Gmail Spam Filter

We do believe our readers are good guys and will use these guidelines for a greater goal, for example, to improve your B2B lead generation marketing strategy. But even if your intentions are noble and your product is not some precarious “medical” supplement, the Gmail spam blocker will scan your messages anyway. A single blunder may cost you a domain reputation.

But they say forewarned is forearmed. So, whatever email services you use, ensure these tips will secure your messages from getting to spam folders.

  • Create a trustworthy domain name

A company’s success starts from the stages when you even haven’t started operating. And picking your unique domain name is one of the basic requirements. Firstly, your domain name should not contain any specific symbols or numbers. Make it legible and understandable; users and recipients must associate it with your company name. Secondly, don’t spare your budget on buying a trustworthy domain extension.

  • Fine-tune the sender's email address

Particularly in B2B sales, a real sender’s name provides recipients' trust. In terms of spam prevention, it signals to the spam filter of Gmail about the addresser’s authenticity. It should be clear that this email address belongs to a real person. One of the most common formats is name.lastname@companyname.com.

  • Ensure your email header is faultless

An email header is a code that contains the addresser’s data and information about its authentication: DCIM, DMARC, and SPF records. Briefly speaking, you must prove to all email services, including Gmail, that your organization uses its own servers and domains for sending letters. A perfect header must contain your email address and name; next to the sections DCIM, DMARC, and SPF, it must be written PASS. You cannot change this code directly, but you can make the conforming setup in your GSuite Administrator profile or on your hosting menu.

  • Ensure impeccable grammar

Before sending your emails, thoroughly proofread their content. Everything from topic to footer must be 100% correct, not just because errors repel recipients. Spam filters of Google are well trained to sort out messages with lots of mistakes and typos. 

  • Try to avoid trigger words

The spam blocker for Gmail indeed can figure out hundreds of suspicious phrases and words. But it doesn’t mean that you cannot use them by no means. For instance, commercial letters are allowed to contain words like discount or sale; the trick is how you compose your content. Anyway, be aware of the stop words. Their abundance won’t allow your messages to bypass email filters.

  • Don’t attach files

A common way to distribute malware via spam is to attach files to emails. Gmail spam filters apply algorithms that can define whether an attachment is hazardous or not. But sometimes, they make mistakes, and emails with harmless files go to the spam folder. A better way to secure yourself is by attaching links to cloud storage.

  • Add unsubscription link

Remember when we mentioned that people report spam indiscriminately? Years of uncontrollable spammer activity provoked a peculiar intolerance to inapplicable newsletters. The recipients will report spam with pleasure, and the more frequently they do it, the more vulnerable your domain reputation is. Therefore, your content must include an easily identifiable and legible unsubscribe link. Lead recipients to unsubscribe, not to throw away your messages.

Bottom line

How to stop spam emails in Gmail? The company specialists provided users with all necessary Gmail spam settings. They are just at your fingertips. We also keep hoping that more aggressive spam filtering algorithms will appear and that internet users will deepen their knowledge of online security. But what can regular companies and fair startups do to avoid their messages being blocked by Gmail filters? You can always address Belkins to ensure your email outreach has sky-high deliverability!

Gmail Spam Filter - FAQs

What do Gmail spam prevention algorithms track?

To maintain security for its users, Gmail is designed to detect:

  • Stop words in content,
  • misspellings and masked forbidden words,
  • attached files,
  • irrelevant header data,
  • malicious links,
  • image-based spam,
  • senders’ domain and IP reputation,
  • presence and correctness of authentication records.

What happens to emails in the Gmail spam folder?

They are deleted after 30 days, so you have enough time to check this folder and hand-pick permitted messages.

How do spammers get my email address?

There are many ways. The most common is searching in open sources. They also san buy subscriber bases from organizations that illegally bought or stole them from businesses.

Can I create spam filters in Gmail?

Yes, it is easy! Click the gear button (Settings) and go to See all settings. Find Filters and blocked addresses and pick it. Click on Create a new filter. Enter email addresses or domains you don’t want to get letters from in the field From or choose another appropriate search parameter. Click on Create filter. Select the action Delete it or Skip the Inbox (Archive it). Press Create filter.

Can I turn off Gmail spam filtering completely?

No, you can’t (why would you need that?). Gmail algorithms are integral to the service, and you can’t switch them off. Instead, you can enable some filters in the Setting section to make emails in the spam folder display in the Inbox category.

How do I switch off the Gmail spam filter?

Click the gear button (Settings) and click See all settings below. Pick the tab Filters and blocked addresses. Pick Create a new filter below. Go to the field Has the words, type in:spam. Click on Create filter. Check Never send it to Spam in the list. Click Create filter. Done!

Vladislav Podolyako

Co-founder and CEO of Belkins and Folderly
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.