Bot traffic or non-human traffic is a common problem for publishers and marketers these days. This is the traffic coming from automated bots or computer programs. According to research, bots accounted for two-thirds of the entire web traffic and malicious (bad) bots accounted for almost 40% of global web traffic in the first half of 2021. With these huge numbers in mind, in this article, we are about to discuss basic questions about bot traffic like what is it, how to detect, and how to stop.
What is Bot Traffic?
Bot traffic is web traffic that is non-human (not generated by humans) on a website or an app. In simple words, it is the traffic on a website from some automated scripts or computer programs that are developed for the automation of tasks like web scrapping. Bot traffic is considered negative by publishers or marketers but the purpose of bots makes it good or bad for a website.
Since some bots are useful like digital assistants and search engines, most publishers and websites welcome such bots. But bots that are malicious and used for web scraping, credential stuffing, and DDoS attacks are bad bots. As it is mentioned above that almost 40% of the entire web traffic is generated by bad bots, organizations and tech giants are struggling hard to manage and stop the bot traffic on their sites
The Good Bot Traffic
There are several bots designed for streamlined operations and performance of search engines & digital assistants, they not cause any damage to websites, apps, or user experience. Below are different types of good bots that help site owners to improve user experience on websites and generate good bot traffic to websites.
Search Engine Bots
Search engine bots are an obvious type of good bot traffic. The purpose of these bots is to crawl web pages and help publishers get their web pages listed on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. They don’t cause any harm or damage to the user experience on a website as they are definitely good bots helping improve your website’s visibility in search engines.
Keeping websites healthy and online is one of the main priorities for webmasters and website owners. To help clients make sure their websites are running smoothly and up 24/7, hosting companies and webmasters use a variety of website monitoring bots and tools that ping websites automatically to check their status and accessibility. When something unexpected happens, the monitoring bots instantly inform the webmasters to fix the issues as soon as possible. They generate good bot traffic to keep your website online and healthy.
When we implement basic SEO strategies and tactics to stand out in search engine result pages, there is a range of bots and computer programs that help improve the SEO of your website by crawling its pages and meta-data. Your competitors can also use these bots to check what your website ranks for. They use data generated by bots to improve their SEO strategies and boost organic traffic towards their sites.
Copyright bots are used by tech giants and organizations to ensure no one has stolen their content (like images, videos or any other types of visuals). These bots automatically check websites and apps for any type of copyrighted content. This helps companies identify websites that are illegitimately using copyrighted content without permission.
The Bad Bot Traffic
Unlike the above-mentioned good bots, bad bots do bad things to websites and applications accessible over the web. They can generate spam traffic to your website that can cause search engine penalties. Bad bots are also used by companies for click fraud to take publishers’ money away for nothing. Below are some common types of bad bot traffic on your website.
Web scrappers are bots that scrape websites to pull out confidential information like contact details and email information of company employees or customers. People also use web scrappers to steal your website content and use it on their own websites unlawfully. Web scrappers are the bad bots and just benefit the person who is using them to pull data.
A huge number of weird blog comments and emails are generated on websites on a regular basis. Spambots are usually used for black hat SEO purposes. They leave automatic messages on blogs and fill out contact forms on websites with promotional emails and messages.
DDoS bots are the deadliest bad bots out there that can harm your website in many ways. These bad bots are typically used by cybercriminals to target a website database or server with the aim of bringing them offline. When DDoS attacks are successful, criminals can cause financial damage to the site or app.
Vulnerability scanners are web bots designed by hackers to scan websites for vulnerabilities and bugs. These bots report vulnerabilities back to their creator if found. The hackers or bad guys then use that data or information to hack a website or steal its data. However, webmasters can also use such bots to find out vulnerabilities in client websites if any.
Click Fraud Bots
They are the bots designed to generate traffic specifically to paid ads. They just produce online traffic for ad fraud purposes to cost paid ads managers much without getting their websites in front of the real internet users.
How to Identify Bot Traffic on your Website?
Webmasters normally check network requests to identify and stop bot traffic. But web analytics tools like Google Analytics can also help website owners detect and identify bot traffic easily.
Below are some analytics metrics and irregularities you can check to identify bot traffic on your website.
- Unusually high pageviews
If there is a sudden and unexpected spike in pageviews on your website, there are chances that bots are clicking through your website to generate bot traffic.
- Abnormally high bounce rate
As bounce rates detect the number of internet users who came to your site and left without clicking elsewhere on the website, a surprising boost in the bounce rate can be the result of massive bot traffic directed to a particular page of your website.
- Unexpectedly high or low session duration
Session duration is the time a user spends on your website. And it must remain steady when there is normal web traffic. When you see an unexpected increase or decrease in session duration on your website, there might be bots on your website that are going through pages on your website at a slow rate. And drop in session rate shows that bots are clicking through web pages on the site at a faster rate than humans.
- Boost in traffic from an unanticipated location
A sudden boost in users from a particular territory or location is one of the indications of bot traffic. You can check the website traffic details for a location in Google Analytics.
How to Stop Bot Traffic
Identifying and stopping bad bot traffic on your website is possible, thanks to advanced webmaster tools and solutions. But you should choose an apt tool or solution appropriately depending on the type of bot traffic directed to your site.
Below are some tools that can stop bot traffic on your website to help minimize cyber security threats:
Use of the robots.txt file on your website is one of the best ways to keep bad bots away from your site.
Creating DDoS lists is a practice of creating a list of offensive IP addresses and denying network requests from those IPs. This helps website owners prevent DDoS attacks and unusual traffic from unwanted locations.
Use Type-Challenge Response Tests
Utilizing CAPTCHAs on your website is one of the best ways to detect and stop bot traffic. This requires users to complete a CAPTCHA test on the sign-up or downloading forms. This also prevents spam comments on blog posts.
Bot Management Solutions
Investing in a bot management solution can help you identify and stop bot traffic on your website. These are the tools that use behavioral analysis to detect and stop malicious bots even before they reach a website.
As it is mentioned above, not all bot traffic is bad for websites. Blocking good bots like search engine crawlers and website monitoring bots is not recommended by experts because it can cause poor user experience or visibility issues on your website.