How to find a bot traffic source
If you’re getting lots of hits to your website but none of them are converting into actions or purchases, one potential reason for this is that you’re receiving a lot of bot traffic. This is something that you will have to resolve before your website will perform at its best – particularly if your website is used for affiliate marketing to generate sales or sign-ups.
Bots come in many forms and serve many purposes – and not all of them are harmful. However, many of them can and do cause problems, and it can be hard to identify a bot attack on websites unless you know what you are looking for – and how to stop it.
In this article, we will explain how to find a bot traffic source, and share some of the best tools to use to detect and remove them.
What is bot traffic?
Bots are also known as web spiders or crawlers, and they are automated web programs or scripts that are designed to perform a number of tasks on the internet. They enable the person managing the bot to undertake repetitive, bulk tasks quickly and automatically, such as collecting information about websites or scraping data from within a website – like email addresses.
Good bots help search engines like Google and Bing to identify and index websites, to enable them to be found in searches. However, bad bots can be used to steal information from your website, spam your email accounts, and bombard your site with so many automated hits that it may even crash your web server – meaning that your real customers won’t be able to access your site.
How do bots work?
Online visitor bots are software applications composed of web scripts that run simple automated tasks on the internet. Once the script has been written, it can be fully automated to take care of repetitive and time-consuming tasks including fetching information about websites, analyzing their content, and capturing information like email addresses.
Types of internet bots
As we mentioned earlier on, there are both good or helpful bots and bad or potentially harmful bots.
Good bots include spiders and crawlers used by major search engines to help to identify and index websites, as well as to measure website performance in terms of metrics like page load times. They can also help to measure advertisement performance and the website’s online reputation.
However, many bots are intrusive or harmful and can cause problems for both your website and your human visitors. These types of bots may be used for any or all of the following:
• To harvest email addresses published on your website, which may then be used within bulk mailing lists or sold on to spammers.
• To automatically generate false sign-ups on websites and forums, which wastes your resources and may result in a deluge of spam on your page.
• To post false or spam comments in blog feed and feedback forms.
• To scrape website content from authority sources or high-ranking pages, which might then be published elsewhere in contravention of copyright, or spun into “new” content that competes with the original page.
• To bombard a page with site hits in an attempt to crash the site or its server and take it offline.
• To commit click fraud.
• To infect websites and PC’s with trojans that will not only harm your own device and data, but that many do the same to your site’s visitors.
This list is not exhaustive, but gives you an idea of some of the problems that bad traffic bots can cause.
Bot detection algorithms
If your website is being targeted by bot marketing scripts and bad bots, you will, of course, want to stop this from happening and remove the threat. Before you can do this, you need to know how to go about bot detection, and find and identify bot traffic in the first place.
There are a number of botnet activity detection algorithms and tools that you can run to do this, most of which are available for a small one-off fee or ongoing subscription charge.
Some of the most widely-used and popular bot detection tools include PerimeterX, Alienvault, and WatchGuard.
There is also a range of common techniques that website owners can action themselves to detect bots, including running scripts like Robots.txt access checks and user agent checks.
However, these manual techniques require a good level of coding know-how to use effectively, as well as having many limitations when it comes to staying ahead of malicious traffic, which will often be designed to block bot checkers.
Get rid of a bot
So, when you’ve run your algorithm and see a bad bot detected, how do you get rid of it?
One option is to do it yourself manually by identifying the originator IP addresses of the bots, or the user agent string information used by bots that crawl your site. However, this requires a reasonably high level of tech-savvy and isn’t always fully effective.
Alternatively, you can buy or sign up to a service that automates the entire process of both identifying and removing bad bots from your website, such as SiteLock or Cloudflare. These services scan your website in real time to identify and isolate problem bots, as well as patching and fixing vulnerabilities that can place your website and the data within it at risk.
There are also a number of ways that you can confuse and redirect bots that visit your website and cause problems, without affecting your site’s performance or functionality for real visitors.
Incorporating Captcha security into sign up forms, adding a tiny, discreet piece of false or dummy sign-up code that bots can identify and use to keep your main channels safe, and of course, protecting your website with the appropriate security features are all viable options.
Particularly if you use your website for affiliate marketing and so, need to encourage real human sign-ups and interactions, these are all things that you should be considering from the get-go to protect your site and avoid running into problems.
One thing you will want to avoid doing is banning all bots from your website entirely – as this will also ban good bots, which can help your website to be found and seen on internet searches.
Bot detection and removal isn’t always simple, and can be time-consuming – but making use of automated tools for bot detection and removal can make the whole process a lot easier.