Bots are all around us. Some are helpful, useful, and make our lives easier. For example, web crawlers could be compared to honey bees; they provide a service that creates a useful result for humans. On the other hand, some bots are used for fraud and other malicious purposes. Malicious bots are more like mosquitos: nothing but pests that cause problems.
Like with any pest, they can become more problematic over time, multiplying in number and draining resources. It’s important to be on the lookout for “infestations” early on to avoid larger problems that could cripple or kill your revenue.
These 7 signs suggest that you may have a bot problem:
1. Traffic spikes at the same time every day People make patterns, but most people do not make the same patterns perfectly every day. If you notice that traffic on your site is spiking at a particular time every day, you may be seeing bot traffic. Unlike humans, bots are often built to repeat exactly the same pattern every single day without variation. Keep an eye out for patterns that can be spotted in your traffic since they may be an early indicator of bots.
2. Analytic reports show unusual navigation patterns Some pages naturally do not get a lot of traffic. While a page could get unexpected views because of a good review or a successful promotion, having a lot of views on hidden pages or direct traffic to your cart is another indicator of a potential problem. Watch for customers exhibiting the same unusual navigation in a short period of time.
3. Bounce rates suddenly become very high or very low You know your customers. You may have some popular pages that you know people spend more time on in your general flow of business. But a sudden change in bounce rates for a particular page could point to a problem, especially if the traffic is coming from an ad campaign. This could indicate a click fraud problem.
4. A single product page becomes extremely popular for no apparent reason As discussed above, promotions do work and sometimes pages get popular. However, a quick rise in popularity that can’t be attributed to a campaign, review, or other cause could mean an influx of bots. Check social media, customer service, and orders. If no one is talking about or buying the product, it’s most likely bot traffic.
5. Activity peaks at an unusual time for your customers While we do live in a 24/7 world, it’s unusual for people to shop at certain times of the day. If most of your customers reside in California, a spike in page views or orders at 3 in the morning in that time zone would be highly unusual. Monitor any strange peaks for potential problems.
6. Chargebacks and order fraud increase rapidly Bot traffic can sometimes be designed to test credit card numbers or make a large number of purchases in an effort to get as many fraudulent orders as possible approved. If you notice a rise in the number of chargebacks or reports of fraud, it could be due to bot traffic. Consider investing in a stronger fraud protection software if you notice this is a problem.
7. Ad budget drains quicker than normal Advertising is often an inexact science. Some promotions don’t seem to work at all while others take off immediately. While it may seem like a good thing if your ad budget gets used up quickly, it may actually be a sign of trouble. If your campaign is getting a lot of views or clicks, you should also see at least a slight uptick in orders and interest in the actual product. However, if your budget is being drained with no noticeable difference in orders or interest, bot traffic is probably stealing your ad money.
While it’s impossible to exterminate all bots from your site and ad campaigns, you can make your site harder for them to access and put protections in place. Simply by paying attention, you can also reduce the problems caused by bots. The best thing you can do is invest in products that will prevent and exterminate these problems.