What is bot traffic and how to handle it for safety?
Bot traffic is nothing but nonhuman traffic to a website or app. It is a software program designed to perform simple and repetitive tasks. Without the knowledge of the developer of the website, the traffic bots visit the webpage, which is definitely a cause for concern.
What is bot traffic?
Bot traffic is nothing but nonhuman traffic to a website or app. It is a software program designed to perform simple and repetitive tasks. Without the knowledge of the developer of the website, the traffic bots visit the webpage, which is definitely a cause for concern. Bots are invisible robots and are active on the internet.
Some bots are really essential for the proper functioning of a website. Such bots are called good traffic bots. However bad bots are also prevalent on the internet and visiting websites, frequently. There is always an apprehension that they may damage the website at their sweet will if not taken care of early.
The Good bots:
Good bots are essential for the proper functioning of internet service and the timely updating of websites. They visit the web pages with the knowledge of the web developers. Search engine crawlers are the most known good bots, and without their interferences, the content of the website or the search results can’t be found. Some other good bots are as such;
SEO crawler is a very important bot that automatically searches documents on the web and is operated by search engines. They are sometimes referred to as spiders and collect data for web indexing of websites. Further, they fix indexing problems and request reindexing of new or updated content, reflect the search queries, and report when encounter indexing, spam, or other issues on the website.
The crawler also shows the developers about the other sites linked with the website of the developers. Here one can find less bot traffic to the website. Google search.com is a bright example of such an operator. Others include Ahref, Spyfu, Moz, Majestic, etc. However, the web crawler was first created in 1994 and used by AOL, an online service provider company in 1995.
Legitimate commercial companies send their bots to crawl websites to garner information for commercial uses. Market research agencies and companies study the market mode, and sentiments on the basis of data collected and prepared strategies to serve the customers.
Further, they provide customers with online comparison shopping in respect of product, brand, quantity, price, and special offers by online shops/vendors. Commercial bots come from legitimate sources like google, bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.
Site monitoring bots:
Site monitoring bots help developers to monitor website uptime and other website issues. They regularly monitor the websites, optimize site speed, check downtime, improve domain health, and report anything wrong to developers about websites. Such bots generate less bot traffic.
They collect and compile/aggregate information from the web into one convenient place and the appropriate content of the websites is delivered to the webpage visitors or email subscribers. Aggregator bots prompt the website content and magnify its reach. Feedly Feature and Google Feed burner are good examples of such bots.
Bad bots are a real concern for website developers as well as users. Cybercriminals and hackers use such bots for a wide range of wrong activities. Bad bots are created with malicious intentions and vested interests that bring bot traffic with very bad names.
Email scrapper bots collect email addresses and send emails of malicious content to the contacts. Such emails often try to mislead or incite fear, worry, or any type of urgency creating panic in the mind of users.
Comment spam bots:
Comment spam bots send spam content in emails in bulk and often share fraudulent weblinks. Such bots also leave comments on blogs, social media posts, and other mediums.
Scrapper bots are the most damaging agents to a website. They come and download everything including texts, images, pictures, and even videos without the knowledge of developers/users. The bot operators may misuse the above-stolen data to their advantage. Such bot traffic is to be taken care of early.
Brutal force attacks bots:
These bots try to steal sensitive information by logging into the websites as if real flesh and blood users. The so-called hackers use such bots for selfish ends.
Inventory or ticket bots:
Inventory or ticket bots are used by unscrupulous elements like blackmailers. They collect the advance tickets for trains/important football/cricket matches etc. before the actual customers get them for sale in the grey market.
How can be identified that website is affected by bot traffic?
Web engineers or experts using some analytic tools such as Reblaze, Human, Arkose Labs, Netacea, DataDome, etc can detect bot traffic. However, some unusual behavior or anomalies may be noticed on the website.
- Abnormally high page views: If a website experiences a sudden increase or spike in page views, which may be a signal of bot traffic and bot clicking on the web.
- Abnormal high bounce rate: Bounce rate means the number of users only coming home/Archives and leaving the page before clicking anything on the page. An abnormally high bounce rate might be due to the bots clicking on the website.
- Unreasonably high or low session duration: The total time spent by a user on a website is called session duration. In normal circumstances, the session duration is noticed steady. If the session duration appears unreasonably high or low is a clear indication of bot traffic on the internet.
- Spike in traffic from a particular location: Sudden spike in traffic from a particular location may be the cause of concern about bot traffic.
- Decrease page load speed: If a website page load speed is reasonably decreased without any specific reason, it may be one of the reasons, due to bot traffic.
How do traffic bots damage websites?
Websites are designed and created for business purposes, whether it is a teaching institution, or business house, or a personal blog. The safety and security of the websites are the primary priorities of the developers. The bad bots in disguise of human traffic might not be visible in web statistics like google analytics.
The presence of bot traffic in the websites misled the organic traffic. The spike in traffic without conversion becomes a headache for website owners. Slowing of websites may cause huge financial losses to business houses.
Remedial measures against bad bots?
Some careful steps may be taken to keep the web safe against bad bot traffic.
- Hire an expert: For the good health of a website, expert views are necessary.
- Protection of excess points of the bad bot: It is a very important and primary objective of web developers to protect the back door entry of harmful bots to websites.
- Careful evaluation of traffic source: Careful evaluation of traffic source is not to be ignored.
- The reason for the traffic spike must be analyzed: Unless the sudden spike of traffic is analyzed, the solution can’t be provided or the problem would be solved.
- Failed logging attempts be monitored: Such malicious logging attempts be monitored and act as per the expert’s opinion.
- Manage good bot traffic: Good bots are the backbone of websites and are inseparable parts of them. No business or website can run without good bots.
- Urgent need for bot management solution: Bot management solution can save the website from bad bots and accordingly block list and allow list to be prepared.
What about traffic-generating companies?
There is a mushroom growth of companies/agencies, who are generating bot traffic with the knowledge and consent of the website owners. Many have very attractive plans including black Friday offers for customers with a free demo. I have personal experience with such companies but wouldn’t like to reveal their names.
Some agencies are coming in the guise of providing backlinks to websites. Such bot traffic is also reflected in Google analytics, however, they only visit the home/Archives page and bounce back without clicking a single page. Every web developer should be a little more careful about such traffic.
Bot traffic is internet traffic coming from automated sources, designed to perform specific tasks. Good bot traffic comes from authentic sources like search engines. Bad bots are always bad for the health of websites and the internet. Website developers must be vigilant and careful for the good health and safety of the websites. Expert opinion for the safety of the website must be taken for good business.