Bot Traffic: the good, the bad, and the ugly - MRS Digital Media

Bot Traffic: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Bot Traffic: the good, the bad, and the ugly

When learning about SEO and bot traffic, there are opposing opinions on whether bots are good or bad. For example, we often hear stories of companies with compromised email lists and customer information. In what seems like a perfect storm, the company finds that its hard-earned clients are bombarded with spam emails looking to steal more data. However, the reality is that not all bots are used for the same purpose. Some bots are good, and equally, some bots are bad. As marketers, it is essential to understand the difference and where bots fit in to optimize site traffic and tie it into business growth.

What Is A Website Traffic Bot?

According to Yoast, a bot is an artificial presence in the form of an application that performs preset tasks on websites and apps while replicating human behaviors. These behaviors can be from paying for a service, playing a video or music, and anything simple and repetitive.

Bot traffic calculates to almost half of the internet traffic today. This number has been increasing over the last few years as more marketers use them to help better their business routines. However, you must understand that using bots is not always bad since it ultimately depends on its purpose.

Fortunately, not all bots are the same, and marketers can use them ethically for everyday business strategies.

Where Bad Bot Traffic Gets Ugly

Most bot traffic is a regular part of website traffic. However, a portion of bot traffic has the malicious intent to manipulate website traffic results, and this can be for many reasons. For example, falsely reporting higher results can lead to higher ad revenue even though the traffic to a given website does not reflect that.

Additionally, bots can enter other sites to steal information from graphics, videos, and text, replicating it elsewhere without the author’s permission. They will try to collect email addresses from users who gave consent to the site owner for marketing purposes. They will target the owners of these email addresses and use that information for targeted, malicious acts. And bad bots are sent out to accomplish much, much more. 

Marketing agencies can advertently use bots to increase their online presence without doing the actual work. Often they show an increase in their clickthrough rate (CTR) but use bots to manipulate that number. They may choose to monetize their ads, but they have the bots running in the background, acting like an actual visitor. When the reports show user engagement, their impressions will increase because purchasing bots comes at a minimal cost.

While the low cost is tempting, it is best to avoid this because it will not help with sales or website presence since bots will not buy any products or services. Plus, bots can be dangerous when not used properly. They can end up slowing down your website and hurting rankings instead of improving them. If you have Pay Per Click ads (PPC), it can end up costing money instead of cutting costs.

As a marketer, it is essential to monitor your site and understand that there is a potential that your website will be targeted. While most suggest that it is a low chance of occurring, it would become difficult for anyone to navigate when it does happen. 

Good Bot Practices

Marketers are using bots for simple reasons: it helps them understand their SEO and where they can improve it. Additionally, bots can assist in collecting and delivering valuable content to visitors, optimizing part of the User Experience (UX). As long the bot is clear about its actions, it is likely not a bad bot.

Semrush identifies that traffic bots are fit to serve the following purposes:

  • Search Engine Crawlers
  • Crawler from an SEO Tool
  • Copyright Bots
  • And more

Taking it one step further, even website security teams use bots to review pages and identify potential issues and security risks. These are just a few examples of white-hat practices that are perfectly okay to use. In addition, traffic bots are not illegal as long as they do not unlawfully obtain information.

Why You Should Care About Bots

Some marketing agencies make false promises about the quality of the services they advertise. For example, suppose an agency’s price is too low. They will promise rapid growth within a short time, and their work skews information toward other countries that generally do not visit your site. These are all red flags that one should avoid.

Bot traffic can negatively impact website security and performance. In the event of an attack, the bot will appear as a regular user and skew data to reflect incorrect numbers. In addition, from an environmental perspective, bots cost electricity to request information from your server. Therefore, marketers should not use bots unless needed due to their ecological impacts.  

Protecting Your Website

If a bad bot is scouring your website, the best way to get rid of it is by blocking it from entering your site entirely. While that might sound easy, stopping a bot begins by locating where the bot is, which can be very challenging. In light of this, experts recommended that marketers invest in digital tools to help with potential threats. These tools are often called plugins, depending on your website. There is more information on security plugins for those with WordPress websites here.

The plugins allow bots to be selected and blocked individually by the user and automatically by the plugin itself. Users should block any traffic bot that is not beneficial, even if it is a good bot. Blocking bots that do not need to be on your website allows them to go to other sites that would benefit more from being crawled by that bot. Users can limit the crawl rate through their website’s HTML code.

Always Use Bots For Good

While there is increased bot traffic across the internet, it is not all inherently bad traffic. Marketers are picking up on the good uses for bots and improving their site traffic by using crawlers to help with SEO keyword research, gathering information, monitoring metrics, and combining valuable content for visitors.

MRS Digital Media not only designs WordPress sites but also hosts them. Visit our site to learn more about our services and how we can help improve your site to run as smoothly as possible.

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