Your Site Traffic – Is it Your Customers or Bots?

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If a large majority of your website traffic consists of bots, then this is a sure sign of concern for you. There are many reasons why you may be undergoing bot traffic. Finding, eliminating, and troubleshooting this bot traffic becomes an important task in situations like these.

Bots get a bad name because most of the time they are spam that crawls into your website and causes disruption. However, sometimes bots are a legitimate source for marketers. In that instance, websites will welcome the bots instead of getting rid of them.

What is Bot Traffic?

Bot traffic is described as all the non-human behavior on your website or app. There are good bots and bad bots. For instance, some bots crawl website content for Google in order to ensure the relevancy, legitimacy and quality of search results. Other examples of good bots include digital assistance, chatbots and social bots.

Bad bots are those that scrape content, spread spam content and also carry out attacks. According to a study, over 40% of internet traffic is bot traffic. Within that bot traffic, many of them carry out malicious activities. These malicious bots violate a website’s terms and service, and may also be responsible for illegal activities.

To disguise themselves, bots can be distributed through a botnet. This means that a copy of the bot is running on multiple devices. Since each device will have a different IP address, it becomes very difficult to identify bots and intervene in their malicious intent.

Excessive bot traffic can overwhelm a website’s resources, slowing down its performance for actual customers that are trying to use the website. Sometimes excessive bot traffic is intentional and targeted, and in this case, it takes shape of a DoS attack.

This is a type of cyber attack that is meant to disrupt the normal traffic of a network by overwhelming the infrastructure with a flood of bot traffic. Advertising companies are good at detecting these activities, therefore, if a website is monetizing through Ads and they notice click fraud there is potential for the company to ban the owner from its network.

Identifying Bot Traffic

To determine bot activity, web engineers can look at all the network requests to their websites and identify bot traffic. There are many red flags that indicate bot intervention. The first is abnormally high views and bounce rates. Unexpectedly high or low session durations are also an indication. Another aspect is a spike in traffic from a location that you did not expect.

Bot traffic can be very bad for analytics, as they cause unusual changes in metrics. These changes and metrics will cause difficulty for marketers when measuring the performance of a website. Analyzing performance is a huge part of running a campaign.

Getting Rid of Bot Traffic

Google Analytics does provide users to get rid of bots and spiders. If the system manages to identify the source of the bot, Google will provide users with a list of IPs to ignore. While this will prevent most bots, it does not spot most of them. Most of the malicious bots are not trying to disrupt analytics. Thus, these safety measures do little to prevent harmful bots.

You can also use online tools to prevent online traffic when trying to cease bot traffic. Another way to stop bot is by limiting your website’s rate. This refers to limiting user attempts and capacity to a timeframe. A network engineer can also use log files and view the online traffic for suspicious and unusual requests.

By doing so, they can then selectively block the IP addresses. The best way to stop traffic is by incorporating a bot prevention system that is able to identify activity, intent and prevention.

Google Analytics Bot Traffic Test Run

Google Analytics is an incredible platform. Nonetheless, it is not perfect, and they sometimes will miss the mark when it comes to anti-spam efforts. Before you roll out your campaign, it is important that you test your website for bot traffic.

The first step involves creating a Google analytics view and running a test to measure bot traffic. When creating a new Analytics view, make sure that you are clever with your name. For instance, if you are very clear so that the normal traffic knows your intent.

In this new view, do not check the box of bot filtering, instead, let the bots enter. You can then verify the filter and see if it is indeed performing with high efficiency. When checking the efficiency of the filter, it is important to be patient.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are many ways you can identify bots, and prevent them from limiting your website’s performance.

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