2015 was a year of jubilation among website owners and digital marketers since the bot traffic dropped below 50%. However, this joy was short lived since the next year brought a surge of bot activity that reached over 51.8%. This takes us closer to the Dark Ages, before the introduction of Humming Bird and before people had figured out the benevolence of the White Hat SEO. In 2016 and 2017 bad bot traffic has been a serious issue. For websites with fewer than ten human visitors per day, bot traffic comprised 93.3% of total traffic, and bad bots make up for 47.7% of the total bot traffic.
In a recent survey, a leading website security company analyzed the traffic and performance of 100,000 randomly chosen websites in 2017. Out of them, almost 94.2% of them have experienced bot attacks in the observed time. This gives us an alarmingly accurate view of the highly insecure web environment most websites are in right now. The attackers have indiscriminately attacked sites without taking into account their customer groups, service types or business expanse. They were more akin of automated assaults that have been responsible for the compromise of credit card data, customer account details, and email leaks.
The four types of bad bots
There is a common trait among all the previous reports and the current report from 2017 – the bigger the brand, the easier is the target for the attackers. Even Yahoo did not get leeway when it was a security breach and data leak time. Evidently, the bandit bots (the bad bots or the other-than-Google-bots) have four different classes and here are the different ways you can block bad bot traffic.
Scraper bots do exactly what you’d expect them to do. They scrape content off websites, switch them up a little bit and release them as original content for new websites. They even steal personal information from these websites. Scrapers can attack e-commerce sites, blogs, and even government-sponsored websites. The leading problem with Scrapers is that they grab RSS feeds from target websites. They keep a tab on your new posts. They copy your content, give it a little brush-up, and it is not very difficult for Google to sniff out “duplicate” content now that they have new algorithm updates in place. Irrespective of the true source of the content, Google is likely to penalize your website. For Google, ignorance is no longer an excuse to let Scrapers run off with all your goodies. This can reflect on your ranking or your organic traffic.
Copyscape or any other plagiarism monitoring tool can become your best friend in this journey. Keep a lookout for websites that might be stealing your content. Find out the IP address of the bots and block them from your feed directly!
They are the prime reason you need to keep a keen eye on your website traffic every day. They have the nasty habit of filling websites with rubbish, dubious links and using malware as bait for your target users. Again, when Google gets a whiff of any doubtful activity on your site, it can result in the blacklisting of your website. This also raises concerns about your user privacy and data privacy.
You can check out plug-ins for blocking these bad bots. It is a bit easier if you are using a WordPress website. You will get tons of extension options from the WordPress plug-ins repository that can help you fight back. You should also invest some time and resources in real-time detection of malicious traffic. Next, you need to invest in a reliable data backup and recovery system for your website database.
Have you noticed how your PPC campaign is becoming ineffective by the day? Have you taken a look at the profile of the clickers? Are they all human? There are bots whose sole purpose is to click on the PPC ads and rendering them useless repeatedly. They successfully drain your budget and your ad revenue. If your ad strategy involves Facebook and Google AdWords, you need to double check your traffic right now. They are the leading targets for click fraud across the world.
However, Google has their dedicated service that takes care of click frauds. Google’s AdSense Click Fraud extension is quite effective in monitoring fraudulent clicks from non-human entities. The plug-in can block specific IP addresses that threaten websites with PPC frauds and DDoS attacks.
This group of bandit bots has the power to target and steal credit card information. They can give your website a bad name. Hacker bots compromise security and delete important content. Your website can become a victim of a hacking attack, and it can deface your site to a great degree. This can attract penalties from Google and push your website down a couple of ranks too. Websites can also fall victim to drive-by hacks. These are attacks that do not target any particular website or domain. They are general hacking attacks that target sites randomly, and if your security is not strong enough, you are simply an easy target.
You can easily find lists of the most common hacking bots online. Start by copy-pasting the list to your .htaccess file to block the entry of the bots from your site. The list is quite pliable. Add bots, remove them or modify them according to your convenience.
The Google bots are the good guys here. They look out for your website, crawl your codes and crawl your site for new content. Be careful not to block them out while keeping the bad bots outside. Choose your plug-ins, extensions, code modifications and lists carefully to let the right ones in. You need a foolproof measure that can take care not to deter Google bots and at the same time protect your website from the malicious programs, spamming bots, click fraud bots and hacker bots.