Digital | Postcard Series

How to Identify the Bots Infesting your Analytics

Do you have a lot of website visitors, but they’re only staying for a matter of seconds? Are you finding visits from across the globe, but your site is only in English? You likely have a robot problem.

No, not those programmable machines that will one day take over the world. We mean the digital critters that crawl across the web… and who are taking over your website and email database.

Robots sometimes crawl across the web for good reasons, but other times, they can be a real nuisance. Don’t believe you have a problem? It’s time to dig deeper into your analytics! Here are the best places to look to stay on top of your probable robot infestation.

The evidence: More visits than actual customers

The investigation: Hurray, there’s a spike in traffic! Wrong. Unless you just ran an ad campaign or launched a big promotion, your visits are likely artificially inflated by robots. If you’re noticing sudden increases in your monthly website visits, you should check where your traffic is coming from because we have a sneaking suspicion that it’s not from legitimate sources…


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The evidence: Strange domains referring traffic to your site

The investigation: If they’re referrals from familiar websites or social networks, you probably don’t have to worry. But if you start seeing a spike in referral traffic, or you suddenly have hordes of users checking your site directly every day, it’s probably robots. Digging deeper into direct and referral traffic is usually the first place to look for pesky spammer sites, like the lovely semalt who’s generously referring bogus traffic across the world wide web 🙂


The evidence: Visits from countries you didn’t even know existed

The investigation: One day you have visits coming out of Russia and the next they’re popping up all over the Middle East. If you can’t for the life of you figure out why users across the globe are visiting your localized website, compare your geographic data with acquisition data and see how many of these visitors are coming from notorious spammy websites.


The evidence: Abnormally low time spent on page

The investigation: Given the exceptional speed robots can run tasks across your site, you may notice your average session duration has dropped, while your visits have surged. A large number of inhumanly short sessions per month can throw off anyone’s analytics! What’s the average duration on your site look like? If it’s extremely low (like only a couple of seconds low), robots are likely the cause.


The evidence: Visitors bouncing like crazy!

The investigation: While some bots quickly run tasks across your site, others may just pop in for a quick visit. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your website and leave without browsing around. We’re going to assume your site has enough interesting content to intrigue users to peruse, so your bounce rate shouldn’t be too high. Look out because some robots have been caught visiting websites and identifying a 100% bounce rate, and even worse, a 0-second visit!


The evidence: Strange looking email addresses in your subscriber list

The investigation: If you have a large subscriber list to begin with, it can be hard to tell which ones are spam, but sometimes email addresses just look fake. For example: the email address is a name, but it doesn’t look like a real name, or the first and last name fields don’t match the name in the email. These are not your typical subscribers, they’ll skew the accuracy of your lists and reports, and you probably don’t want to spend money sending email campaigns to them either.


Sure, it’s nice to have large numbers, but what do they mean if they offer no potential to your company’s bottom line? You can keep reporting your inflated (and false) traffic, or you can stop these pests from spoiling your data once and for all!

Need help cleaning your web and email stats? Give us a call at 905 873 8426

This post is part of a series. See the others.