What is Bot Traffic and How Can You Identify and Prevent it from Causing You Problems?

If you have a website, perhaps at some point you’ve thought about using traffic bots as an attractive solution to generate traffic. After all, many people use similar strategies and shortcuts for this purpose.

While these traffic-generating bots promise to increase page views quickly and inexpensively, be careful; these bots can be a double-edged sword that can negatively affect your website in the long run.

Today, you’ll learn how traffic generating bots work, how they affect your website, and what you can do to prevent them from causing you problems.

What are traffic bots?

These are automated applications that generate non-human traffic to a website. Although at first it seems something negative, in reality, this type of traffic is basically neutral, since it all depends on what the objective of the bots is.

There are several types of bots, and some of these are essential for many online services — including Google’s search engine — as they improve the user experience. But there are also many bots that are used for negative purposes such as:

Did you know that more than 50% of all Internet traffic are bots and that more than half of them are malicious bots?

That’s why it’s important to find out ways to manage and filter the traffic-generating bots that are out there like stray dogs.

How can bot traffic hurt your business?

While an increase in artificial traffic can help you rank better to some extent, using these bots consistently is not convenient.

On the other hand, of all the non-real traffic that reaches your website, around 30% are usually malicious bots and 20-25% are good bots. This high percentage of negative bots can have a series of consequences for your website. Let’s see.

They alter the analytics of your website

Analyzing traffic is essential to know how many visits your site receives and how effective your marketing strategy is.

But traffic bots can also cause interactions on your website that alter the analysis, provide false data and make you think that you have more customers than you actually have.

On the other hand, they can also click on your ads and fake your CTR, which will make you lose money if you follow a paid traffic strategy.

They hurt your SEO

Good SEO positioning depends mainly on having quality and well-optimized content, good link building and additional factors such as the usability of the website.

Bots can overload your website and reduce its loading speed, something that in the long term can lead to your SEO strategy stops working and Google penalizing you for offering a bad user experience. In addition to that, bot traffic can also represent a high bounce rate, which can cause search engines to consider your content to be low quality.

They can damage your reputation on the Internet

There are many companies that offer bot services on the Web, but many of these are not trustworthy. In many cases, these companies use malicious bots that can enter your site and steal certain data, such as important personal and financial information.

Obviously, this can have serious consequences for your online reputation, since if your potential clients are not sure that your website can protect their private information, they’ll most likely decide to leave.

How can you identify bot traffic?

Web professionals use many specialized tools to identify potential bot traffic to a website. Some built-in web analytics tools like Google Analytics are also very useful for this purpose.

Regardless of the tool you use, you should be very attentive to the following signals to identify if your website traffic comes from bots:

Too many sudden visits to your website

If you notice that your site has a sudden, unprecedented and unexpected increase in visits, it’s most likely that there are traffic bots clicking on your website.

Abnormal increase in bounce rate

Bounce rate indicates the number of users who arrive on a web page and leave before clicking anywhere on it. An unexpected increase in this variable may indicate that there are bots redirecting traffic to another page.

Session duration too short or too long

An excessive increase in the duration of the session may indicate that there are bots browsing the site at a very slow speed. If the opposite happens, this could indicate that the bots click very quickly on the pages of the website.

Unwanted conversions

Creating accounts with meaningless email addresses or contact forms submitted with fake user details may indicate that there are form fillers or spam bots on your website.

Increased traffic from a suspicious location

If you notice a sudden increase in the number of users from a certain region, especially if the common language of this region is not the same as your site, it may be an indication of bot traffic.

How to handle bots traffic

There are several methods to filter traffic bots from your normal website traffic; it’s simply a matter of limiting the use of these bots. Even though these tools may have their pros and cons, they should only serve to support your website traffic, never being the solution to increase traffic, since this will undoubtedly end up harming you.

Include instructions for bots

The first step you should take is to include a robots.txt file. This is used to provide instructions for bots crawling web pages. You can configure this file to prevent bots from visiting and interacting with your page, but keep in mind that only good bots will comply with the rules.

Use traffic blockers

With this tool you can make sure that your ads are only seen by users who meet certain characteristics, something that bots are unlikely to meet.

Block bot IPs

Although bots usually exchange IP addresses, it’s possible to block all those bots that have already been identified as such to some extent and block their access to your site, at least temporarily.

Final words

Well, thanks to this simple guide, you already know what traffic bots are and all the problems they can cause you; the best part is you’re also better prepared to deal with them if they go over the line.

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