Bots currently make up about 38% of all internet traffic. These bots can range from wholly benign crawlers that scan sites for any number of statistics to malicious bots that actively attempt to harm your site and, concurrently, your business. Even if these bots aren’t actively harming your company, you can rest assured that this bot traffic is affecting your data.
A recurring theme you will see in these top-level symptoms is inconsistencies, anomalies that will stick out after you know what to look for.
1. Referral traffic
It’s easy to open your Google Analytics, see an increase in website traffic, and leave chalking it up as a win. Yay! More people are coming to the site!
Not so fast
Check which domains are referring traffic to your site. First of all, you always want to know what’s driving traffic to your site, even when you’re not suspicious of bot traffic. Additionally, a smoking gun for bot traffic is a spike from one specific referrer.
2. Ghost referrer spam
While you’re digging into referral traffic after noticing something fishy, add a second “hostname” dimension to the report and take note of any domain that isn’t yours. Simply put, these domains aren’t specifically referring to your site and are, therefore, invalid.
While this traffic isn’t necessarily malicious, they should be excluded from any reports as the data is largely useless.
3. Odd geolocation data
If your company or business is a brick-and-mortar shop that relies largely on its local market, your website’s traffic should reflect a similar local focus. If you identify an inconsistently high concentration of traffic from a market you don’t cater to, you can probably drill down to find bot traffic you can exclude from your reporting.
4. Session Duration and Pages per Session
A more surface-level report you can monitor is Session Duration coupled with Pages per Session. As bots aren’t potential customers or clients interested in your products or services, they will not spend a ton of time performing valuable actions on your website. In fact, they’ll do precisely nothing after entering your site.
5. Display campaigns working too well
An average conversion rate for Display Ads is less than 1%. Many newly launched campaigns will storms out of the gates showing Clickthrough Rates and Conversion Rates that are simply too good to be true. You can expect these numbers to settle within a few days after the click fraud is weeded out. If these numbers continue, instead of celebrating a job well-done, you probably should dig into the sites serving your ads.
And if you’re ready to begin your journey, take your first step to becoming a client now.