The ultimate goal of making an online business is to reach to more users. Creating maximum visibility for your website is the key business goal. Web traffic helps take your business, product or service to audiences that are geographically scattered around the world. It also helps in acquiring more users, in generating additional business opportunities and in providing confidence to advertisers to boost their strategies.
Every platform, however, has its dark side. When your online business grows, there is an inevitable possibility that almost half of the web traffic consists of bots. Bot traffic, in simple terms, is the non-human traffic coming to your website from spiders and robots. This traffic deceives marketers into thinking that they have legitimate web users landing on their website but in reality, it is spam, which generally consists of low-quality traffic that will skew your aggregated data.
So how does one even know about the presence of bots in your web traffic? In other words, how can you make sure that your website visitors are humans and not robots?
Brands can identify bot traffic by tracking, monitoring and analyzing the following website metrics:
Web traffic usually grows gradually, over a period of time. This growth is dependent on your activities like organic marketing, paid marketing, content quality, etc. Hence if you see a sudden spike in traffic in a day or week, it should automatically ring a bell that it may be non-human traffic. Such traffic skews the usual graph drastically, leading marketers to believe that they actually received heavy traffic to their website.
A bot-laden website will exhibit a higher bounce rate. A bounce rate below 50% and between 20-25% is considered acceptable and healthy, depending on the nature of your business. On the same note, there are scenarios where the bounce rates also dip to impractical lows, like 10%, or rise to impractical highs like 95%, which might indicate suspicious bot activities on your website.
Traffic predominantly comes from three primary varieties of channels or sources -organic, direct and referral. During a bot attack, the influx of traffic will majorly be from direct sources. A healthy and human-driven traffic usually descends from referral and organic sources like social media and search engines, respectively, on which you maximise efforts.
Hits on Pages
These are simple and easy to detect. You can be sure that bots have attacked your website if you see a vast number of hits from a single IP within a very short period of time. These bots will usually flood your website at regular, repeated intervals, which will show an unnatural skew in your usual traffic graph of hits.
Unexpected Geographic Locations
Though visitors coming to your website are geographically scattered, you can still identify bots smartly if your target audience isn’t even remotely close to your business location. If you have customers regularly visiting your website from an ‘x’ location and suddenly there is a wave of customers coming from ‘y’ location, that could be a sign of bot traffic.
There are lots of tools available online to detect and filter such bots and to prevent them from returning to your website. A daily or weekly check-up of your website is advisable to monitor and curb bot traffic.