What is Bot Traffic, How to Detect Bots and Protect Your Project From Them?

All sites that open online have bots and not all are friendly. The activity of some bots can cause serious problems: losing positions in search, slow loading of the site, or getting banned on the ad network or partner platform.

In this post, you will learn about the different types of bots, the results of their activity on the site, and learn how to detect bot traffic and reduce the number of bots on your site.

The article was co-created with the developer Antibot.cloud.

Types of Bots and Results of Their Activities

Access to the site can be divided into three groups:

  • Real people logged into the browser.
  • Useful bots (for example, search engine bots).
  • “Bad” bots that can harm your site.

Website owners don’t even know how many bots visit their resource’s pages. According to Antibot, the percentage of humans may be only 0.5% of the total number of bots. Especially when reviewing the Google Analytics reports, you may have observed spikes in visits as well as visits from unusual places or strange devices. Most likely, bots were responsible for these increases. For example, in 2021 we noticed an increase in traffic from devices with low screen resolutions on the Moyens I/O blog. This is one of the many manifestations of bot traffic.

Bots can be divided into two categories:

  • Bots that perform certain actions on the site.
  • Bots going from one site to another. For example, click the partner link on the partner’s website and go to the brand resource.

The purpose of such bots and the results of their activities may differ.

Bot Traffic on the Site

Search Bots (Scanners)

Search bots are bots of search engines. They search for new pages on the web, crawl those pages, and help index those pages in search.

These robots are useful for SEO and do not cause any problems.

SEO Bots

SEO bots belong to SEO platforms (like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Serpstat, and others) that help their users analyze competitors’ sources. Website owners can use such data to improve their search position.

Results:

The only downside to such bots is how they slow down site loading. If you are not a user of SEO platforms, you can block them.

Bots for Negative Cheating Behavior Factors

To cheat behavioral factors, bots are a “gray” method of promoting a site in search results. On a commissioned site, these bots simulate visits from real people. For example, they may browse different pages for an extended period of time to reduce the bounce rate.

To maximize the commissioned resource, bots worsen behavioral factors on sites occupying the first lines of search results. On the contrary, they spend very little time on the pages and increase error rates.

Results:

Your source may become one that bots try to remove from top search positions. As a result, your site may rank in the back pages of search.

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Scraper Boots

Scrapers collect important data from pages such as addresses or other contact information. In some cases, parsers steal the content.

Results:

Your content may be stolen and published on other sources. In such cases, the articles and images become less unique and therefore the site may lose its position in the search results.

Vulnerability Scanners

These bots analyze millions of sites and look for vulnerabilities. Some report problems to the owner, while others use this information to their advantage.

Results:

Forward the collected information to a third party who may sell the data or use it to hack sites.

Download Bots

Download bots are created to download material from your site. For example, free guides or helpful checklists that website owners use as leading magnets in their marketing strategy.

Results:

Give a false impression of the efficiency of materials. Let’s say you have affiliate links in your directory. You will probably notice a lot of guide downloads, but the number of clicks on links will not match your average conversion. Then you will most likely want to fix the guide or change the marketing funnel. However, if the download count is surpassed by the bots, your multi-day work is unlikely to improve in terms of conversion rate.

Spam Bots

Spam bots fill out contact forms, send phishing emails, and create meaningless or advertising-related comments on websites and social networks.

Results:

Spam bots get bored quickly and can negatively affect site reputation. You should constantly read emails or moderate comments from them.

Bot Traffic from the Site

Click bots

Click bots mimic user behavior and fraudulently click on ads, affiliate links, and other tools.

Results:

If you have a pay-per-click ad on your site, such as AdSense banners or affiliate links from CPC (cost-per-click) affiliate programs, you will be banned for click bots. Click bots break statistics on partner CPA (cost per action) programs because they generate lots of impressions and clicks on partner tools, but not sales.

How to Detect Bot Traffic

one. Examine Data from Analytics Systems

The project may exist for years with bots, but adverse effects may not appear immediately or be less noticeable. For example, as bot traffic will gradually decrease over time, the location of the site pages will slow down the development of the project.

With the growth of the site, the number of unnecessary bots is also increasing. As the source becomes more reliable, the number of pages and backlinks increases in addition to the number of bots. Therefore, the primary task of the website owner is to detect malicious bot traffic.

You can detect bot count based on server logs: access.log etc. You can also detect the appearance of bots using Google Analytics. Watch out for spikes in page views, high bounce rates, unusual session lengths, and visits from strange places.

2. Get Affiliate Program Statistics Without Bots

If you’re earning through affiliate marketing, remember that visits from all types of bots are aggregated in their affiliate program’s statistics. This distorts the picture of conversion, as it’s hard to estimate how many real people are interested in your content and clicking through your common tools. Due to inaccurate statistics, you may make the wrong decisions about working with certain brands. For example, you might think you’re driving a lot of traffic, but you won’t get a high enough reward for your work.

We made a unique anti-bot filter on Moyens I/O to make our partner stats more accurate. With this, you can exclude bot traffic from program reports with one click. To do this, go to the profile settings in your account, scroll down, select the “Hide bot activity” checkbox and click “Save”. All reports in your account will be updated automatically and show refined data.

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bot activity hide travel payments

You can learn more about how the Moyens I/O feature works in our Help Center.

How to Protect Your Project from Bot Traffic and When to Start

It is important to regularly check your traffic for malicious bots and be ready to protect yourself at any time. Try to calculate the amount of bot traffic, even if you haven’t noticed its negative effects yet. If bots generate more than 25% of all your traffic, you run the risk of having problems with Google. This is the time when you need to start protecting your website urgently.

You must understand that it is impossible to get rid of bots 100%. However, there are simple services that will help you reduce their number. These services will save your content, improve your position in search results, and also protect your ads and links from click fraud.

Cloud Flare

CloudFlare protects about 30% of all sites.

Advantages:

  • It caches images which reduces the load on the server.
  • If you configure three simple rules, you will get excellent protection from many bots that do not support HTTP2. These three rules are: primitive content parsers, vulnerability checkers, and some spammers.
  • It protects you against DDoS attacks.
  • All this is available with the free plan. Even paid DDoS attack protection services often do not have significant advantages over CloudFlare.

Disadvantages:

  • CloudFlare does not protect against cheating behavioral factors.

CloudFlare offers many options. For example, it’s free for personal websites and apps for up to 50 users. If you need stronger security features, you can connect paid options starting at $5 per month.

AntiBot

AntiBot helped resolve the issue with bots on the Moyens I/O blog. It was founded in February 2021 and stops all types of bots, including those that cheat on behavioral factors. AntiBot can be used with CloudFlare.

During the AntiBot check, users see a page similar to the CloudFlare page for 1-3 seconds and then automatically moves to the next page. If users fail the automated test, which happens in approximately 5% of cases, they must press the button.

antibot cloud protection test

Advantages:

  1. Easy integration and settings.
  2. Maximum protection against bots masked by humans to improve behavioral factors.
  3. With AntiBot, sites are not banned and bots do not change their place in the search results.
  4. The test is translated into the most popular languages ​​and you can customize this page.
  5. AntiBot protects ads from click fraud bots and does not interfere with the way these ads work. Sites with AntiBot are successfully audited in AdSense (when creating your account: you need to add it to the white bot list in AdSense).
  6. If you do not have script installation experience, you can purchase installation and turnkey setup for an additional fee.

Disadvantages:

  1. Sites with AntiBot cannot advertise in Google Ads as there will be no moderators.
  2. It does not protect against DDoS attacks.

The cost of Antibot depends on the number of domains and ranges from $25 to $99 per year. For readers of the Moyens I/O blog, AntiBot has prepared a promo code for a domain and a 30+ day test period on all subdomains. this TP2022 The coupon will be valid for registration until September 1, 2023.

Have you detected any bots on your site? Share in the comments how these bots affect your project and how you protect your site?