Website traffic bots can be dangerous and a real problem for publishers. They can cause various issues, from slowing down a site to skewing analytics metrics.
A sudden and unexpected spike in page views or an atypically high bounce rate could indicate the presence of bots on your site. Other warning signs include a disproportionate number of visits from the same IP address and erratic behavior.
Good bots visit websites to determine search rankings, analyze SEO, and monitor site health. Malicious bots, on the other hand, are used to steal contact information, create phishing accounts, and even launch DDoS attacks.
Unauthorized bot traffic can skew website analytics metrics such as page views, bounce rate, and session duration. This distortion can lead to misinformed decisions by businesses based on erroneous data.
The best way to spot unauthorized bot traffic is to look for a sharp decline in your website’s conversion rates and an increase in overall traffic. You can also look for a sudden drop in orders per visit (OpV). These signs often point to bad bots, stealing website visitors’ attention to click on advertisements or purchase products and services. The good news is you can use technology to identify and block these rogue bots. All you need is a set of “exclude filters” that can identify common attributes for bots, such as the URL they are visiting and their time on site, and exclude those visits from your analytics.
Decreased Page Load Speed
Bot traffic is any online web traffic that a human does not generate. While good bots are necessary to help the Internet function as we know it (for example, search engine crawlers), bad ones are used for malicious purposes — most commonly to attack websites and steal financial or intellectual property information.
Bots typically click and visit pages at a much faster rate than humans. As such, website metrics like session duration can become skewed by bot activity. When this happens, a dramatic drop in page load speed is usually the result.
In addition to slowing down the site, bots can also cause it to overload its servers. This behavior is especially problematic for sites that rely on advertising to make money. Bots can often be identified using analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, by noticing unusual traffic spikes and increasing visitors with abnormally short session durations. Filtering out this traffic can stop BOT traffic and improve a website’s performance and analytics without compromising its functionality for human visitors. This can be achieved using a bot detection solution like Scaleo’s or updating an—HTML file.
Bots click on websites to generate fraudulent affiliate revenue. This damages the integrity of performance-based advertising programs and can damage relationships between publishers and demand partners.
Malicious bots also skew analytics data, creating artificial spikes in page views, bounce rates, and time on site. They can also distort conversion rate calculations, causing marketers to make misguided decisions about improving their sites based on misleading metrics.
One tell-tale sign that visitors may be bots is a high bounce rate, which isolates the number of users who visit only a single page on your website before leaving. Another is a sudden increase in traffic from specific geographic locations where your customers don’t reside.
There are several ways to identify bot traffic, including using tools such as Google Analytics’ “exclude hits from known bots and spiders” setting and enabling bot detection feature. While these methods stop some bots from disrupting analytics, they don’t eliminate all bots and can block helpful bots like search engine crawlers. Instead, use a comprehensive solution such as Clarity that detects bots and filters them out of your dashboard, heatmaps, and session recordings.
Decreased Conversion Rates
As bots are designed to complete repetitive online tasks quickly and efficiently, they can often hurt your website’s conversion rates. Whether spam bots test your site for vulnerabilities or e-commerce bots collect fake credit card details, bots can skew important Google Analytics data like your site’s bounce rate and lead to poor performance and a competitive disadvantage.
Typically, you’ll be able to spot bots through erratic changes in traffic metrics. High bounce rates or a sudden drop in time spent on the page indicate a non-human visitor. A surge in junk conversions, such as account creations using gibberish email addresses or contact forms filled out with fake names and phone numbers, is likely a sign of bot activity.
You may also notice that visitors disproportionately come from one location or that your site’s server performance is slowing down. These are clear signs that you’re getting a lot of bot traffic and should take action immediately.
Bot traffic contaminates analytics data, distorts visitor metrics, and hinders funnel analysis and KPI tracking. The skewed data can also cause misguided business decisions about pricing, inventory, and marketing spending.
While some bots are legitimate (for example, search engine spiders and data aggregators), others are malicious—like those used for credential stuffing or to create spam accounts. Malicious bots can generate fraudulent clicks, leading to higher costs and lowered search engine rankings.
Some identifiers of bot traffic are easy to spot in web analytics tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics. For instance, a sudden spike in junk conversions—such as gibberish email addresses or contact form submissions—can indicate that bots are filling out forms. A sudden, unexplained increase in page views or decreased session duration can also mean bot activity.
Another key indicator is a change in geographic location. A disproportionate number of visits from one area can indicate that bots are using software to target specific regions.