Any non-human traffic to a website or app is referred to as bot traffic. Bot traffic has a negative view, yet it isn’t necessarily helpful or bad; it all depends on the objective of bots.
For helpful services like search engines and digital assistants, some bots are required (e.g. Siri, Alexa). On most websites, these kind of bots are welcome.
Other bots, such as those used for code injection, data scraping, and launching DDoS assaults, can be malevolent. Even the more benign ‘bad’ bots, such as illegal web crawlers, can be a pain since they mess with site metrics and induce click fraud.
Bot traffic is thought to account for over 40% of all Internet traffic, with hostile bots accounting for a considerable fraction of that. This is why many businesses are looking for strategies to control bot traffic to their websites.
What methods may be used to identify bot traffic?
Web developers can examine network queries to their sites directly to discover bot traffic. Bot traffic can also be detected using an integrated web analytics solution like Google Analytics or Heap.
Bot traffic is identified by the following analytics anomalies.
Abnormally high visitors: If a site’s pageviews suddenly, unexpectedly, and dramatically increase, it’s possible that bots are browsing the site.
Bounce rate: The bounce rate refers to the amount of users who visit a single page of a website and then exit without clicking anything on that page. Bots directed towards a single page can result in an unanticipated increase in bounce rate.
Surprisingly long or short session duration: Session duration, or the length of time users spend on a website, should be consistent. Bots browsing the site at an extremely slow rate could explain an unexpected rise in session duration. An sudden decline in session time, on the other hand, could be the result of bots navigating through the site’s pages considerably faster than humans.
Conversions of junk: Form-filling bots or spam bots can cause an increase in phony-looking conversions, such as account registrations with nonsensical email addresses or sign-up with fake names and phone numbers.
A rapid surge in visitors from an unusual area, especially one that is unlikely to have a big number of people who are educated in the site’s native language, can be a signal of bot traffic.
What is the impact of bot traffic on analytics?
Unauthorized bot traffic can affect analytics data including page visits, bounce rate, session duration, user geography, and conversions, as noted above. The site owner may become frustrated as a result of these variances in measurements; it’s difficult to assess the success of a site that’s being bombarded with bot activity. Efforts to improve the site, such as A/B testing and conversion rate optimization, are additionally hampered by bot-generated random variation.
How to use Google Analytics to remove bot traffic?
The option to “reject all visitors from known bots and robots” is available in Google Analytics (spiders are search engine bots that crawl webpages). Users can give a specific list of IPs to be disregarded by Google Analytics if the source of the bot traffic can be determined. While these precautions will prevent certain bots from interfering with analytics, they will not prevent all bots from interfering. Furthermore, most malicious bots have a goal other than disrupting traffic analytics, and these countermeasures have no effect on harmful bot behaviour other than maintaining analytics data.
What is the impact of bot traffic on performance?
A common approach for attackers to begin a DDoS attack is to send enormous amounts of bot traffic. During some types of DDoS attacks, a website receives so much attack traffic that the origin server gets overloaded, causing the site to become delayed or useless to genuine users.
How might bot traffic be harmful to a company’s bottom line?
Even if their performance is unchanged, harmful bot traffic can financially ruin some websites. Sites that rely on advertisements, as well as those that sell limited-quantity products, are especially vulnerable.
Bots that land on a website and click on various aspects of the page might cause phoney ad clicks, which is referred to as click fraud. While this may appear to increase ad revenue at first, online ad networks are quite good at detecting bot clicks. They will take immediate action if they believe a website is engaging in click fraud, usually by banning the site and its owner from their network. As a result, proprietors of websites that carry advertisements must be always vigilant against bot click fraud.
Inventory hoarding bots can be used to target sites with low inventory. As the name implies, these bots visit e-commerce sites and load their shopping carts with items that are therefore unavailable for purchase by actual customers. In some situations, this might result in excessive inventory replenishment by a supplier or manufacturer. The stock hoarding bots never make a purchase; their sole purpose is to disrupt stock levels.
What is the best way for websites to handle with bot traffic?
The inclusion of a robots.txt file is the initial step in preventing or regulating bot traffic to a website. This is a file that gives instructions to bots crawling the page, and it can be set to prohibit bots from ever visiting or engaging with it. However, only good bots will follow the restrictions in robots.txt; it will not stop bad bots from crawling a website.
A number of tools are available to assist in the reduction of unwanted bot visitors. Although a rate limiting solution can detect and prohibit bot traffics from a single IP address, it will still miss a lot of harmful bot traffic. A network engineer can look at a site’s traffic and detect security network requests, producing a list of IP addresses to be banned by a filtering tool like a WAF, in addition to rate limiting. This is a time-consuming operation that only blocks a small amount of harmful bot traffics.
A bot management system, in addition to rate limiting and direct engineer interaction, is the simplest and most efficient way to stop harmful bot traffic. A bot management solution can employ intelligence and behavioural analysis to prevent dangerous bots from reaching a website.