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How To Distinguish Bot Activity From Human User Activity With Google Analytics

How To Identify Bot Traffic In Google Analytics

Any non-human traffic to your site qualifies as bot traffic. These are the regular website bots, and spiders that tend to appear are productive traffic to the naked eye. Most of the bad bot traffic is just spam activity that generates no revenue and does not contribute positively to website statistics. In case you have been noticing a lot of increasing traffic influx to your website without any increase in dwell time or conversion rate, then it is bad news for you! These are bots that are crawling your site and bouncing almost instantly, giving you an impression of increased visits.

Learn To Interpret Your Google Analytics Data

Business decisions, like including a new bat bot blocking services or a new plug-in for your website, should not depend on ideas and hunches. You need solid data to back up your decisions all the time. Google Analytics Tools will help you analyze your website traffic and provide you the numbers that determine the extent of bot activity on your site. However, none of the good tools in the market will label the bad bot activities for you. You need to know the signifiers before you act!

Here’s a good example of bad bot traffic – a huge spike in your website traffic should coincide with a social media promotion or an event that makes your website visible to your target groups. If that isn’t the case, then a sudden spike in activity can be a signifier of bot attack on your site. In such an event, go to your Google Analytics report and click on the acquisition. Select “All Traffic” and “Channels,” followed by “default channel grouping.” Click on referral to check if you know all the sources of traffic. If these referrals do not look familiar of relevant, these are the signs of the first bot activities of the day or month on your website!

You can also check Hostname from the Secondary Dimension. You can find this under Direct. This usually corresponds to a 100% bounce rate and a 0 dwell time per session. When the hostname is NOT your website, 100% of the times the traffic corresponds to increasing bot activity. This usually comes from some common bots that have been active for a while on the web. This makes it easier to block them specifically while keeping your avenues open for the Google bots.

Find the list of common bot


How to Identify and Remove Bot Traffic

One of the fastest ways to block bad bot traffic is by creating filters to exclude particular bots from your website domain. Google Analytics helps the webmasters execute this step by only a few steps.

  • Go to your Google Analytics account
  • Click on Tracking Info and select you Referral Exclusion List
  • Click on Add Referral Exclusion
  • Copypaste the particular domain name
  • Select the Create option
  • Repeat for multiple domain names

The two ways you can stay in control of traffic quality

Option 1 – This is one of the fastest ways to screen bad bot traffic in Google Analytics and block them selectively. This will save the original data, and you will have complete control over the data. However, be sure that your past data will contain bot activity and it is a way to block bots that have already been there. Therefore, we emphasize on creating a new view for Google Analytics before you add the new filters and exclusion criteria.

Option 2 – In case you do not want to implement a new view, you can always download all the Analytics data to an Excel file. This is an efficient way out for those who do not want to create new filters. Nonetheless, you will not see a lot of webmasters and digital marketers go for this option since it is too labor intensive. You have to exclude the bot traffic manually by recalculating the average bounce rate, dwell time and conversion rates for your website.

Why is your website calling for help?

You need a bot monitoring service and a bad bot blocking service immediately since about 52% of all website traffic is bots. As of bot activity reports from 2017, the rates of bot visits to the popular sites are alarmingly large. The bot activity increases with increasing brand reputation. Bigger brands are always at higher risks of bot hacks, scrapers, and spammers. The smaller websites tend to become the victims of drive-bys. These are general bot attacks that do not target a particular site or domain.

How to Detect Bot Traffic On Your Website

DDoS attacks, data breaches, and PPC frauds are the most real threats of bot activity. Right now, even your website may be a threat in case you do not have the mechanisms in place to add an extra layer of protection from the bad bots. If you are not sure if most of your traffic is a legitimate human contribution, you can simply try employing a few of the simple tactics to block bad bots. For WordPress users, this can be plug-ins that can track and block these bots. For others, this can be a minute change in the .htaccess filters and robots.txt files. Most of the times, you will find a ready list of the common bots and the few lines of code that can build a protective wall around your website content.

Postblock drop in activity is NOT a warning sign!

Most websites usually see a sharp drop in traffic immediately after they employ filter bot mechanisms. This is nothing to be worried about. This just shows how much of your past traffic was bot activity and it paves the way for faster page loading times, better security and higher ranks. A selection in the right kind of bot protection and blocking mechanisms can help your website climb to the top of a related Google search engine SRL. It makes your site available to the real human users, who will contribute to a higher CTR and a higher conversion rate as well.

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