The Beginners Guide to Bot Traffic

If you haven’t heard of bot traffic before, we think it’s important for you to learn the basics now. After all, as a business owner, you want to make sure that the traffic to your website is genuine. If you don’t, how can you determine what you need to improve your website and bring in conversions? Let our beginners guide to bot traffic break things down in a way you can understand!

What is bot traffic?

Bot traffic is basically non-human traffic to a website. This is created by software applications that are instructed to run automated tasks that can be performed faster than humans. Bots can be used for both good and bad purposes. For one, good bots can be used to crawl through websites to ensure everything works as it should be. Bad bots, however, can be used to bring in heavy flows of traffic that could potentially bring the website down.

Good bots v bad bots

To understand bot traffic in more detail, it is important to look at the different types. As mentioned, not all bots are bad, so it helps to break down which are good, and which are not.

Good bots

Good bots consist of numerous things, from SEO to crawl through catalogues and index web pages for search engines, website monitoring for website health (loading times, downtime, etc). There is also aggregation, for gathering information from one or various websites and place them together and scraping. There is scraping in both good and bad bots, where information is pulled from websites (email addresses, phone numbers) with legal access. However, some bots are instructed to pull this information without consent.

Bad bots

Bad bots consist of spam, DDoS for taking down your site, ad fraud and malicious attacks. These are the ones you want to avoid.

Detecting bot traffic

It helps to detect bot traffic before splitting apart what is good and what is bad. Google Analytics will help you get a good idea and you must know what to look out for; the ratios of bounce rate, page views, loading times and session durations.

Bounce rate

Displayed as a percentage, the bounce rate will show how many people leave your website after visiting only a single page. When a user visits your site, they will usually click through the pages to see what you have to offer. A bot, however, will only visit one page and then leave. A high bounce rate is often an indicator of bot traffic.

Page views

On the opposite end, if you find traffic with an extremely high number of page views, this will likely be bot traffic.

Loading times

If your loading time suddenly drops and your website lags, this could be due to bot traffic or a bot-related DDoS attack.

Session duration

The average session duration will show you how users from different sources engage with your website. Non-human traffic is likely a visit that lasts no longer than a couple of seconds.

Prevention

As mentioned, it’s important to remember that some bots are good, and some are bad. So, if you were to prevent any bots from making their way in, your ranking will likely be affected, and not in a good way.

Starting with your robots.txt file, you can control what bots can and cannot do when they visit. Without this, any bot can visit. Good bots will abide by the rules you create, bad bots will not. However, this will help you figure out what to focus on.

CDN (content delivery network) is the best solution for bad bots. A good CDN, such as Cloudflare, will protect against malicious bots and DDoS attacks. You can also install purpose-built anti-bot solutions, but these cannot protect your ads, only the website itself.

You could also manually block IP’s when you know where the bad bots are coming from, but this is far less effective.

The importance of ad protection

Bots are quite troublesome for PPC campaigns, which is why having a website management company to prevent such issues from occurring is essential. At Search and More, not only can we create your website, but we can manage and optimise it to ensure you get the traffic you truly deserve. To find out more about our services, get in touch.

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