Essentially, bot traffic refers to non-human traffic that flows to a website or application. The important thing to understand here is that bot traffic can either be good or bad. While bot traffic mostly has a negative connotation, there is bot traffic which is good. The purpose of the bots is what determines whether it’s good or bad. Good examples of good bots include digital assistants and search engines. Businesses don’t have a problem with these kinds of bots.
However, there are other web traffic bots that are malicious. Just like the name suggests, web traffic bots of this nature are not good for websites and applications. Among the purposes of bad bots include: credential stuffing, online bot attacks, account takeovers, and data scraping. Such traffic bots cause disruptions to site analytics and facilitate fraud. A significant amount of online traffic goes to bot traffic and the unfortunate fact is that most of it is the malicious type. It is for this reason that businesses and organizations are putting measures in place to manage bot traffic flowing to their websites.
Identifying Bot Traffic
The fact that malicious bots are present in bot traffic means that website engineers can’t assume that things are okay. They have to take action to ensure that they comprehend bot traffic they need to detect and deal with. Through the use of web analytics, website engineers are able to identify a situation of bot traffic affecting a website. Here are the anomalies that you can use to identify bot traffic:
- Abnormal page views: In the event of abnormally high views of pages on a website, this is a sign that bot traffic is present. That’s why website owners need to have an average idea of the quantity of page views they receive on their sites. If you notice a sudden increase in page views, this is a feasible way of identifying bot traffic on your site. However, if you’re launching a new product on your site, it could explain the sudden spike in page views.
- Unusual high bounce rates: The bounce rate of a site refers to the quantity of visitors who leave a page before clicking on anything on the particular page. Therefore, if you experience an unusual spike in bounce rate it’s highly likely that there are bots channeled to a page on your site. This is something that should trigger action from web engineers or website managers.
- Increase in traffic from an unusual location: If you notice that there is a spike in the number of visits to a site from a particular location that’s unexpected, this should raise some questions. Especially, if you realize that the traffic is from a place where the native language of the site isn’t popular, it could be that there is an invasion of bot traffic.
- A sudden change in session duration: Session duration is a good way of identifying bot traffic on a site. This refers to the time that users spend on a site. Normally, the duration should be balanced. However, when you notice that there is a surprising change to a high session duration, things could be wrong. The explanation behind the high session duration could be the invasion of bots browsing through the site at a very slow rate. On the other hand, if the duration decreases in an unusual way, the explanation behind it could be that bots are browsing the pages of a site faster than normal.
- Suspicious conversations: You can also identify bot traffic through suspicious conversations from unknown sources. If you see suspicious email addresses and contact forms containing fake numbers and names, this should alert you to the possibility of bot traffic.
- Customer complaints: If you get frequent complaints from your customers regarding their frustrations when trying to buy products from your e-commerce store, you should check well because you could be a victim of malicious bot traffic.
How Bot Traffic Affects Business
A business can face financial crippling as a result of bot traffic. Malicious bot traffic can lead to the extraction of confidential information from a website and result in financial losses. The information accessed illegally can facilitate the loss of money from personal accounts. Also, in the event that a business gets affected by bad bots and money gets lost, its credibility and reputation get damaged. Potential customers and partners will not want to work with the business because of the perceived security gaps.
Businesses that serve ads online can have their connections with advertising agencies and networks banned. If bots are present in a website that serves advertisements, they can click on ads in an unusual way and attract the attention of advertising networks. If these networks detect bot clicks, it could lead to the banning of the businesses and the owners can be banned from the networks as well. According to CHEQ, It is, for this reason, that website owners who host ads have to be careful not to fall into the trap of bot click fraud.
A business that has bots landing on its site has the potential of collapsing because the malicious attacks affect its normal functioning. If, for instance, customers are not getting access to the service they need because of bot attacks, it is highly likely that they will look for the same products from your competitors. Your brand will not only lose reliability, but also its market share in the industry.
Certainly, a good and crystal-clear understanding of web traffic bots is valuable for players in the online space. Yes, there are good bots that offer benefits in various ways, but there are also bad bots that affect businesses negatively. Clearly, your website is not safe if you don’t put in place the right tools and measures to protect it from bot traffic. It is the responsibility of web owners to gain in-depth understanding of their traffic so as to make it easy to identify bot traffic and take the necessary steps to secure their platforms.