- Integrated web analytics tools like Google Analytics or Heap can be valuable in bot traffic detection.
- The impact of website bot traffic on your site’s performance can lower its search ranking, making it harder for potential customers to find you.
When users visit your website to check out your products and complete purchases, it’s called traffic. On the other hand, when automated software, often referred to as a bot, visits your site, it’s categorized as bot traffic.
Traffic generated by bots serves various purposes, both positive and negative. For instance, Google uses bots to index your website and its content, helping it appear in search results. Here are a few cases of beneficial bots:
- Search engine web crawlers to improve indexing
- Chatbots for efficient customer service
- Monitoring bots for detailed website analytics
- Testing bots for assessing website performance
- Marketing bots for fine-tuning display ads
- Virtual assistants to enhance productivity
However, traffic bots aren’t always helpful. Cybercriminals use malicious web bots to validate consumer credentials, gather payment card data, and extract personal information for malicious purposes like credential stuffing, carding, and account takeover (ATO) attacks.
These bots also scrape your pricing and product content, providing competitors an advantage. They might even purchase your inventory to resell at inflated prices in scalping and denial of inventory attacks.
Recognizing the presence of bad bots is essential for maintaining the integrity of user analytics, ensuring site performance, and protecting against potential cyber threats. But how do you identify bot traffic?
How to Identify Bot Traffic?
Web engineers can examine network requests to their sites to identify potential traffic by bots. Integrated web analytics tools like Google Analytics or Heap can be valuable in bot traffic detection. Some critical analytics anomalies that may indicate this kind of traffic include:
- Abnormally high pageviews: Bots probably navigate the site if a website experiences an abrupt and unanticipated pageview surge.
- Abnormally high bounce rate: The bounce rate is a metric used to quantify the proportion of users who visit a specific page on a website and subsequently exit the site without engaging with any elements on the page.
The occurrence of an unforeseen increase in the bounce rate may be attributed to the deliberate redirection of bots toward a specific webpage.
- Surprisingly high or low session duration: The length of time people stay on a website or “session duration” should stay pretty much the same. An increased session length that can’t be explained could mean that bots are browsing the site very slowly.
On the other hand, a sudden drop in session length could be caused by bots clicking through site pages much faster than a real person would.
- Junk conversions: A sudden increase in dubious conversions, like account creations using nonsensical email addresses or contact forms filled with fake names and phone numbers, often indicates the influence of form-filling bots or spam bots.
- Spike in traffic from an unexpected location: An abrupt rise in user traffic from a specific region, especially from an area where the native language of the site isn’t widely spoken, can be a red flag for bot-generated traffic.
Detecting bots isn’t just a technical exercise; it’s a proactive defense mechanism against various adverse consequences. Once you’ve acquired the expertise to identify such traffic, it’s equally important to comprehend the implications of web traffic bots on your business. You can take informed steps to safeguard your organization’s performance, finances, and reputation.
What Is The Impact of Bot Traffic on Your Business?
Traffic by bots can have detrimental effects on your organization, impacting crucial business decisions, reducing site performance, and lowering search engine rankings. These factors can collectively put your business at a competitive disadvantage.
Automated traffic not only taxes your infrastructure but also drives up your costs for bandwidth and compute cycles. It can overload your network, resulting in sluggish site performance, frustrating customers, and significantly impacting user experience.
Search engines factor in your site’s speed when determining its position in search results. The impact of website bot traffic on your site’s performance can lower its search ranking, making it harder for potential customers to find you. This emphasizes the importance of addressing and managing automated traffic bots effectively.
Furthermore, this traffic taints your data and distorts your analytics. It can falsely indicate a surge in consumer demand, leading to inaccurate metrics on user behavior. Relying on flawed data can result in misguided business decisions concerning pricing, inventory, and marketing investments. This underscores the critical need to detect and mitigate the impact of traffic generated by bots on your analytics.
These outcomes are byproducts of bot-generated traffic itself. However, even more damaging is what cybercriminals can do using malicious bots. This traffic opens the door to various cyber-attacks to validate stolen information on your site. These include:
- Credential stuffing: Bots attempt logins across popular sites using stolen credentials. Validated credentials can be used in future account takeover attacks or sold on the dark web, contributing to a dangerous cycle of identity theft and fraud.
- Carding: Bots test stolen credit and debit card numbers by making small purchases on e-commerce sites. Validated payment details can be used to make larger purchases of gift cards and high-value goods, amplifying financial losses and posing a significant threat to consumers and businesses.
- Account takeover (ATO): Cybercriminals leverage stolen credentials to gain unauthorized access to user accounts, enabling fraudulent activities such as unauthorized purchases using stored payment data, theft of gift card balances and loyalty points, and perpetrating various forms of fraud, seriously undermining individuals and businesses’ security and trust.
- Scalping and inventory hoarding: Bots often purchase high-demand products, inflating their prices, and resell them on third-party platforms. This practice frustrates genuine users, driving them away from your site to explore alternative shopping options that affect your sales and reputation.
- Web scraping attacks: Hackers utilize bots to scrape essential data from your website, including pricing information, product descriptions, and other content. This stolen data gives them a competitive edge, potentially harming your SEO rank and disrupting your business operations.
Successful bot attacks result in substantial financial losses encompassing chargebacks, credit processing fees, infrastructure costs, and increased demands on internal resources like engineering, security, and customer service teams.
Here is an insight from Statista: “In 2022, the bulk of website traffic continued to originate from human users, but there has been a steady increase in bot traffic. Fraudulent traffic attributed to malicious bot actors comprised 30.2% of web traffic in the most recent assessment, marking a 2.5% increase from the previous year.”
The repercussions may extend to lawsuits, regulatory fines, and, most critically, damage to brand reputation and consumer trust. This erosion of trust has a long-term detrimental effect on revenue, stock value, and overall business growth.
Bot traffic has far-reaching implications for your business. It impacts decision-making, site performance, and search rankings, placing your organization at a competitive disadvantage. Infrastructure costs rise due to automated traffic, overloading your network and frustrating users. Slower site speed affects your search engine ranking, making it harder for customers to find you.
Additionally, the traffic contaminates data, leading to misguided business decisions. The malicious use of bots poses a significant threat, validating stolen information and enabling identity theft, fraud, and inventory manipulation. Ultimately, successful bot attacks result in financial losses and reputational damage, impacting long-term growth.
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