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Is my business being affected by bot traffic?

Photo by <a href="">Robynne Hu</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>
Photo by Robynne Hu on Unsplash

Bad bot traffic is a rapidly growing problem across the web that can impact various aspects of your online business, as explained in our “What are bots?” article. Finding out whether your business may be affected begins with reliably identifying the nature of the incoming web traffic on your site, and special software tools, such as those developed by BotGuard, are fundamental part of the process.

You do have a trick up you sleeve though! There are a few easily observable symptoms that can help you guess the probability of your website being affected by malicious bot traffic. We created a short list to help you identify the most common ones:

1. Inconsistent visitor behaviour patterns

As a rule, users (or rather groups of users) behave in a recognizable, typical way with minimal deviations. If you see deviations in this behaviour, then most likely you are dealing with bots. Typical examples of such deviations include a notable increase in the depth of page browsing, or in the number of viewed products, inconsistent browsing time, an unusually high number of purchase abandonments, and other behavioural deviations that cannot be explained by changes on the site itself.

2. Repeating patterns for different user accounts

On the other hand, in many cases the recurrence of the behaviour cannot be explained by a-typical user patterns. The most common are account data and delivery addresses being shared across multiple accounts, simultaneous data changing, multiple accounts changing country IP ranges, repetitive wording (in searches and usernames) and other linguistic symptoms with different accounts, and quick changes in the user device models ratio.

3. Unexpected peaks and valleys in traffic

Unexplained growth and sharp drops in traffic. This includes high peaks of traffic for certain high-demand or limited-availability goods or services, peaks in impressions and clicks, especially combined with unusually low number of page views and lower conversion rates, increased account creation, and sharp growth in the number of ratings and reviews.

4. Slow website performance

These are the cases that cannot be convincingly explained by an incorrect website configuration. It may very well be that bots are simply overloading your server resources. In this case, upgrading the server may not help. The only way to resolve this is using specialized web traffic control tools.

5. Customer complaints

If you find yourself overwhelmed with customer complaints that cannot be easily explained by site changes or otherwise, we strongly advise you to consider the possibility of external “bad” influences. It is not uncommon for competitors or other ill-willed actors to use bots as a means to gain an uncompetitive advantage. Unfortunately this isn’t an exaggeration. We see this in our practice all the time.

If you’re curious about your current “bot” defences, check out our simple website scanner. It runs a quick, non-invasive test to see if you’re protected from the most common threats.