Telling bots apart from human users: Why is it necessary for you to know your website visitors?

Published Mar 08, 2018
Telling bots apart from human users: Why is it necessary for you to know your website visitors?

Not all bots are equal. There are good bots, and then there are your bad bots. It is the timeless war of good and evil that decides how your website performs. Bots like the ones from Google crawl your site through and through to find new content and index all your pages. Others, however, are not so helpful. Instead, they can steal your content for duplication, steal credit card and debit card data and create website traffic artifacts. It's time to take a long and hard look at the morphology and functioning of these bots to understand how they are affecting your website traffic, stats, performance, and sales right now.

The ancient fight of good vs. evil
The challenge here is to distinguish between the good bots and the bad bots. You need to find out tactics that will block the nuisance creating bots and at the same time facilitate website crawling by the Google bots. For the same reason, you need to revisit your robots.txt file. “User-agent" and "disallow" are the two magic spells that maintain the balance of good bots and bad bots on your website. These user agents are the website crawling Google search engine spiders or bots that you need for ranking well and getting organic traffic to your site. Visit the web robots database to find the bots that will help you in this aspect. Disallow is the magic word that blocks the entry of all kinds of bots, including the user agents from your entire website or certain sections of your site, as per your choice.

Why is it necessary to know your bots?
Now, let us come to the main issue here – bad bot traffic. This far we have only spoken about all the good on the web and how bots have been helping us rank our site content. However, have you noticed a sudden surge of traffic on your website but no increase in conversion? Have you been experiencing a strange activity on your PPC campaigns? These are the deeds of the bad bots, which can also scrape and duplicate your content, steal your RSS feeds and post spam messages to turn your website into a link farm! These are the basics of any bad bot activity, and your site can suffer regarding ranking, advertising revenue, traffic and sales from a surge of spammer bots, hacker bots, and scraper bots.

Checking the nature of your visitors
The true old way blocks bad bot traffic on your website is by employing Google Analytics tool. This is a comprehensive set of tools that will give you all the numbers that matter – page views, referrals, session duration, bounce rate, conversion rate and more! If you are using a WordPress platform, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to bot tracking plug-ins. Third-party plug-ins can be very helpful in tracking bot activity on your website. Interpreting the results of the metrics is another important factor you need to learn. Let us say – you had about 50 visitors a day to the best performing web pages and suddenly the number increases to 500. These users crawl all your pages on the domain and do so in less than a couple of seconds. This is the classic sign of bot activity on your website. These "robots" take only a few seconds to crawl entire sites and then move to the next one.

Google does not like websites with bot activity
Regular visits by bots, duplication of content, spamming the site with dubious links and increase of loading time tarnish the image of a website in front of Google. It takes Google a couple of days at maximum to spot bot activity. However, plausible deniability is not an escape when it comes to website ranking and SEO. Even when bat bots are copying your content to generate duplicate content elsewhere on the web, Google might hold you responsible for the use of duplicate content. Increasing bot activity, even when these bots are not hacker bots or phishing bots can disrupt your website performance incredibly.

Bots can bring DDoS attacks
Next comes the obvious threats including DDoS attacks that bots can launch on your website. This is critical for e-commerce websites. Unusual slow page loading, high traffic with low conversion and sudden surges of page views can be signs of an impending DDoS attack. Distributed Denial of Service attacks is one of the most common and the deadliest of all attacks when a compromised system of computers attack a single server with a flood of bot traffic that cripples the normal traffic rate. Anti-DDoS is a great way to protect your website from such threats. These services and software exclusively block the bots that pose a denial of service attack risks to your site.

Bots can thwart your PPC campaigns
Another threat these bots bring is the increase of PPC ad click rate without generation of revenue. These are clicked fraud bots that render your advertising campaigns meaningless. The bots foil your advertising stats and replace genuine clicks with bot clicks. You can protect your website from malicious website bots with the help of Google AdWords bot protection extensions and tools. These tools help to protect the PPC ads on Google and Facebook, two of the most common bot targets on the web.

The ultimate quality of a great bot blocking plan is to stop the bad bots from crawling your website. A few tools, modifications of the .htaccess files and the robots.txt file are all you need to block the activity of the most common bots from your website. You can also use these tools, extensions, plug-ins, and modifications to your current robots.txt file settings. The quick developing masking abilities of the bots and their increasingly disruptive behavior are making it most essential for all websites to have a defense system against bots. Find a system that helps you to screen the bad ones and let the search engine crawlers in.

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