We’ll explain later in this article how displaying email might influence your SEO, but first let’s discuss some related material.
What we can say for sure is that how you display your contact information influences the amount of spam you receive and your likelihood of being hacked.
While displaying forms and contact information such as email indirectly affects SEO, it also possibly exposes the site to hackers, email harvesting and spammers.
What is Email Harvesting?
Email harvesting is one of the main reasons why companies opt for contact forms over email addresses. By the use of “harvesting bots” that crawl hundreds of sites in seconds, hackers and spammers obtain a list of email addresses with the aim of “bulk emailing” them. They can use web forms, sites, chat rooms or buying lists from other spammers for this purpose.
Although there is not a big threat if the email is not opened, it does take up available inbox space if you receive a large amount of emails a day. You are safer in terms of keeping your inbox spam-free and protecting your name, brand and email from being used on shady websites.
Providing user experience
Depending on your audience and the nature of the products you offer, your potential clients will be more either likely to send you an email or fill out a form, or both.
Displaying your email in plain text does not provide your users the opportunity to speak out. If you link the email via mailto:, it will open up your users’ email in Gmail, Apple Mail, Outlook or other email platforms. They will need to decide what subject and information to provide for their inquiry.
Overall, you are not guiding or assisting them in any way. The Contact Us page should be direct or segmented based on what your users are looking for. Take a look at Shopify’s Contact Us page:
The page is based on what your users need and therefore provides a better user experience. If you go to their Send Us An Email section (below), you will see an input field for your name, email, shopify domain, theme and message:
While the Shopify domain and theme might not be necessary, if the user is asking a presale question, Shopify customer support can now address the user based on the name they enter, understand clearly what the message is about and immediately know who to address the response to.
With a plain text email, your users will send you an email and the name used might not be their actual name.
Here’s an example of how some users might not use their name:
If you are using customer support platforms like Intercom.io or Zendesk, you might be able to address them by their name if they are already your customer and you have that info in your database. But if they are new potential customers, you must figure out the name of the person. Some might use nicknames or last names, or their email or username might mention their name.
Contact forms are an easier way to automate information gathering about potential clients.
Let’s dig deeper into the pros and cons of your business displaying email besides contact forms.
Is the email feature on Contact Us pages actually a good call?
Your email text might be small when being viewed on mobile devices. It is much easier tapping on a button than tapping on the plain text email that is being displayed.
Why forms are the safest option for web pages
Contact forms are different than email features and visually more appealing to users, although this does depend some on the design. Contact forms with multiple options to request information about may help you boost your lead nurture; after all, the more personalized, the more chances you have to engage in a conversion with your consumer.
On top of that, what some marketers and business owners want to avoid at all costs is a hacker attack or a bot picking the addresses for spammers. Contact forms are the best choice to keep inbox or customer support platforms clean.
Tips and tricks for hiding your email address.
A potential way to trick a bot into not seeing your email address is to spell it out. This can fool it into thinking that your email is just plain text. For example:
john at seoptimer.com
Another way is to hide your email address inside an image so that it is harder to parse/harvest. You can be creative using buttons or an online graphic design program like www.canva.com
Additional steps to prevent attacks on your site
If you witness any malicious activity being performed on your site, you can employ extra protection against spammers by using CAPTCHA or questions bots can’t answer easily.
Providing an alternate method for your users to contact you can help increase user experience and the overall performance (i.e. bounce rates, new vs. returning visitors, etc.) all of which impact SEO. More importantly, you can optimize your Contact page, requesting some additional information from those who want to contact you and addressing them the best possible way. It also prevents hackers and spammers from abusing your site and creating unnecessary and unwanted spam for your business.