Jun 23, 2023 9:16 AM

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Jun 23, 2023 9:16 AM

How to use bot traffic effectively

New kind of traffic?

When one hears the term "bot traffic," they may think of traffic on a highway. However, in today's world, traffic is not limited to highways or roads. In fact, bot traffic refers to internet traffic that is generated by bots, or automated software programs created to perform specific tasks. Bot traffic can either be beneficial or harmful, depending on the intention of the bot. Approximately half of internet traffic is generated by web bots. While some bots are beneficial for websites, the remaining 30% of this traffic is made up of bad bots that perform malicious tasks, such as content scraping, stealing user accounts, and scalping inventory.

This blog post covers the following topics:

  • Detecting bots/identifying bot traffic
  • Good and bad bots
  • How to avoid bad bots
  • Identifying bot traffic
  • Is bot traffic beneficial or harmful?

Detecting Bots/Identifying Bot Traffic

Managing the detection of bots requires analysis and sophistication because bots are often much quicker than any human. To navigate the detection and management of bots, it's crucial to determine the intent of every visitor to a website, app, and API, while reducing the number of incorrect detections and missed detections. You can connect the following situations to bots and bot traffic:

  • The abnormal increase in both traffic volume and bounce rate suggests the presence of traffic bots. These bots depart after completing their task without exploring more pages.
  • A sudden decrease in page load speed may indicate the presence of bad bot traffic. Although there could be other reasons for slow site performance, it is important to check other key performance indicators (KPIs) as well.
  • If your bounce rate suddenly drops, it may indicate that web scraping bots are stealing your content by scanning many pages.
  • When web scraping bots copy your content and publish it on other sites, it can negatively impact your site's search engine results page (SERP) ranking and cause Google to penalize you for duplicate content issues. To prevent this, set up canonical tags on every blog post to ensure that your content is always authorized, even when it's stolen.
  • If your customers experience interruptions while making purchases on your website, you may be dealing with scalper bots. These bots speed up the purchasing process, which can hinder customers from completing their purchases before the bots do.

Good Bots

Good bots are automated software programs that contribute to the successful performance of your site. These programs are designed to optimize website performance, improve search engine rankings, and provide users with relevant information quickly. Good bots improve the user experience and help users find what they need on a website.

Some well-known examples include search engine crawlers that index web pages and chatbots that provide customer service. Other less commonly known examples include Content Delivery Networks and Price-Scraping bots. CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) are used to deliver content worldwide. CDNs collect and distribute content to users from the server closest to them, improving website loading times and reducing latency. This enhances website performance for users located far from your server. While price-scraping bots are used by retailers to monitor their competitors' prices and adjust their own prices to stay competitive and meet industry standards.

Bad Bots

When it comes to website traffic, certain bots can be helpful while others can be harmful. Bad bots have the potential to damage your site's security, performance, and reputation. They're software programs that engage in malicious activities, such as scraping website content, breaking into user accounts, and distributing spam. These bots compromise a website's security, slow down its performance, and damage its reputation. Cybercriminals, hackers, and other malicious actors create and control them. The reasons to deploy bad bots include security threats, performance issues, and SEO penalties.

How to Avoid Bad Bots

To protect your website from bad bots, it is essential to use a multi-layered approach:

  • Bot Detection and Management: Utilize a bot management solution that is capable of identifying and blocking bad bots while also allowing good bots.
  • Web Application Firewall: By implementing a WAF, malicious traffic can be blocked before it even reaches your site, providing an additional layer of protection.
  • Regular Updates and Patches: Ensure that your website's software and plugins are kept up to date in order to reduce security vulnerabilities, as well as to enhance performance and functionality.
  • Strong Authentication: Incorporating multi-factor authentication (MFA) is crucial in preventing bad bots from accessing users' accounts and significantly reducing the risk of security threats.

Is Bot Traffic Beneficial or Harmful?

Bot traffic is generated by automated software programs, also known as bots, that access websites and online services. While some bots are beneficial, it's important to be aware that a significant portion of this traffic is comprised of bad bots, which perform malicious tasks like content scraping and stealing user accounts.

Bad bots can cause significant harm to websites, damaging their performance, reputation, and bottom line. However, good bots can optimize website performance, improve search engine rankings, and provide users with relevant information quickly, contributing to the successful performance of a website.

Website owners need to distinguish between good and bad bots and take measures to protect against the latter. This includes implementing security measures such as firewalls, access controls, and rate limiting, and regularly monitoring website traffic for potential bot activity.

By taking steps to keep their sites secure and optimized for both human and bot traffic, website owners can maintain user and customer trust while leveraging the benefits of bot traffic.