What is bot traffic?
Bot traffic is any inbound website traffic generated by non-humans. The term “bot” has a negative connotation, but not all bot traffic is bad for a website. There are bots that serve as virtual assistants and significantly facilitate the search process. Conversely, bad bots are associated with fake followers on social media sites, data theft, hacker attacks, and other unpleasant situations. Therefore, bot traffic should be detected and avoided for the sake of data security and a reliable online reputation.
How can bot traffic be identified?
It is possible to determine bot traffic by close monitoring and analyzing various website metrics or with the help of special tools and programs like Google Analytics or Heap. Usually, an attentive business owner can trace a non-common activity on a website with the help of several indicators. Here are the things that must be paid attention to:
- Unusually high numbers of page views. If you see a high interest in your page without the prior launch of a new advertising campaign, it may signal bot activity.
- High bounce rate. The bounce rate shows the number of visitors who came to a single page of the website and left it without any other interactions or clicks. If this metric has become higher suddenly, it may be the consequence of bot transfer to that particular page.
- A sudden change in the session duration. Typically, there is an average time period a user spends on a site. If this period has become significantly shorter, or, vice versa, longer, it means bots are on the page.
- Unreliable registration data. Bots use fake accounts, phone numbers, and email addresses that usually look strange, so they are quite easy to detect.
- An upsurge in traffic from a particular geographical location. This will look even stranger if, typically, that region is not your target market.
Therefore, any unexpected change in the interactions with the site shows the necessity to carefully check the traffic and clean it from the bots if required. Regular control is the key to success.
How can bot traffic hurt analytics?
Any bot activity spoils the general performance of a website. With increased indicators in conversions, session duration, bounce rate, etc., it is impossible to filter the real metrics. Therefore, business owners fail to have objective data regarding the effectiveness of their website content. Hard cases of bot activity may lead to DDoS attacks without the possibility of recovering the data.
Ways to combat bot traffic
- Set up a filter to prevent any automated programs from copying your content.
- Utilize fire-walls and anti-spam solutions to reduce the number of spammers on your website.
- Use CAPTCHA to close your website to bots’ intervention.
- Keep the quantity of content on your website that isn't being shared directly to a minimum.
- Report any suspicious activity to Google.
- Add pages to the robots.txt file. It will guarantee those pages are not indexed and crawled by search engines.
- If you offer multilingual content to your users, use Hreflang tags to identify pages that contain the same information in multiple languages.
- Inform Google if you do not wish your business to appear on the SERP.
- Implement a bot traffic blocker that will filter any suspicious IP addresses. The choice of blockers is wide, ranging from open-source tools to more sophisticated commercial solutions.
Is bot traffic good?
Bot traffic may lead to both positive and negative consequences for the performance of any website. Good bot traffic allows users to deal with their requests with the help of automated assistants. Google bots scan websites for quality content and decide whether those sites can be shown in the search results.
However, bot traffic can be used for other purposes. Scammers exploit bots to steal personal data, break accounts, and commit theft. Digital security should be taken seriously by any business owner. Various tools and programs may help avoid bot attacks. At the same time, various marketing tactics should be tested, and only reliable tools should be applied, as non-human bots are not a welcome target audience for any business.
Does bot traffic affect SEO?
It is difficult to trace the exact negative impact of bot traffic on SEO. However, any SEO expert is looking for high-quality organic traffic to a website. Organic traffic implies customers’ loyalty and high conversions without much marketing effort. In the case of high bot traffic, the performance of a website’s metrics becomes blurred and hard to interpret, which makes further marketing development similar to a guessing game and far from the goals set. The future commercial success of such a business becomes doubtful.
Does bot traffic affect SEO?
Every situation is unique and requires careful investigation. You may start by reporting a case to Google. If the attacks continue, you may consider an anti-bot blocker as an option. However, make sure you know the flipside, as Google bots make your website appear on the search engines.
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