Online B2C businesses are exciting for quick adoption and scalability. There are different segments in online businesses like e-commerce, travel booking portals, content publication websites, classifieds portals and digital media websites. These businesses largely depend on the right visitors and quick customer acquisition. The core asset to leverage for such online companies is either competitive pricing for more conversions or quality content for driving genuine visitors to the website and earn through ad revenue.
For news publishing and content driven websites, the content itself is a medium to communicate the value proposition to its audience. For others like e-commerce, listing portals and auction websites, a website is the business model in itself. In both the cases, a business website is a hub to showcase unique content, convert customers and drive customer engagement.
Undoubtedly, genuine web traffic and customer acquisition are of utmost importance to online businesses to scale fast and get all metrics right in place. This makes it imperative for online businesses to clearly differentiate between good web traffic and bad web traffic. Good traffic comprises of genuine visitors and SEO improving bots. Bad traffic constitutes of bad bots that cause fraudulent activities and are aimed to degrade the business. In the pursuit of quick scalability and growth, online businesses often neglect to keep a check on the quality and behavior of the web traffic their website is getting.
IT teams and marketing need to be aware that bots are always looking to infiltrate a website, steal content, pricing information and other customer user data. Anti-bot protection is, therefore, essential to your website’s security. Based on our experience from protecting large websites from bots, we have listed down 9 major website threats caused by bots that a bot protection software can help safeguard against.
1. Content Scraping Prevention – When competitors or fraudsters steal the original content from a website to refurbish the content on other platforms, it is called content scraping or web scraping. Web scraping is mostly done on a large-scale using automated computer scripts that download original content and upload the same on newer platforms. Web scraping leads to lower search engine ranking. This directly impacts genuine traffic on your website as your visitors will now move to other platforms serving the same content. This leads to less advertising opportunities.
2. Price Scraping Prevention – Price scraping refers to automated theft of pricing data from a website. Automated computer software techniques are used to steal pricing data points in real-time. Price Scraping negative impacts business by reducing customer visits and conversions. Customers end up buying the products listed on your store from your competitors’ website. This results in lower revenue and lower brand value for your business. Automated web scraping also takes a toll on web servers and increases the IT overhead cost.
3. Click Fraud Protection – In the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, repeated clicks on an advertisement hosted on a website, with or without using bots, is referred to as Click Fraud. In a PPC campaign, a brand pays for the number of clicks that are made in its advertisement. Click Fraud is used to increase the number of hits on the advertisement to either drain the advertising budget of the brand or to increase the revenue of the website where the advertisement is hosted.
4. Listing Scrape Protection – Listing scraping mostly happens on classifieds and listing portals. Automated capture of online listings from a website is referred to as listing theft or listing scraping. Listing scraping results in lower search engine rankings, lower customer visits, and lower conversions. Moreover, it helps your competitors’ business grow using the hard-work put by your team to generate the listings in the first place. The other immediate loss is a high usage of server capacity and higher server cost, which is due to the rampant scraping by bots.
5. Skewed Analytics Prevention – Website analytics systems are designed to help understand traffic patterns and user behavior on a website. More than 50% of all traffic on the web is generated by bots. An effective analytics system needs to differentiate between the genuine human traffic and the bot traffic along with detailed analysis. Website analytics become skewed when the differentiation is not done and the bot traffic adds to the genuine traffic in the metrics. The results then show incorrect metrics, based on which, incorrect marketing decisions are made.
6. Auction Snipping Prevention – Auction snipers or auction bots prevents human bidders from winning auctions by placing a bid likely to exceed the current highest bid (which may be hidden) as late as possible – usually seconds before the end of the auction – giving other bidders no time to outbid the sniper. Auction sniping also allows sellers to use bots to bid for the item to inflate the prices, making it impossible for genuine users to buy listed products at a reasonable price. Auction bots frustrate auction companies when fraudsters steal bidder information from auction websites and offer to sell them the same items, they are currently bidding, thus drawing bidders away from the legitimate auction sites.
7. Eliminate Bot Traffic on your website – Web Traffic that is directed to a website using bots constitutes bot traffic. This traffic adds to the total purchased traffic but is made of only bot hits and no human users. If you are buying traffic for your website, you could end up losing a sizeable chunk of your spend to bots. Secondly, if you further redirect traffic from your website to other websites, these bots can propagate to your customers’ websites. Also, you would need to spend a lot of server capacity to process the unwanted bad bot traffic.
8. Eliminate Form / Comment Spam – If your website forms are programmed to send auto-mailers to your email, you will start receiving junk emails. If you own a classifieds or a listing platform, your website will start serving fake listings to genuine users. Similarly, if you own a social platform, your genuine users will now start coming across more fake profiles.
9. Over Crawling Prevention – Crawlers are used for various purposes, the most significant of which is Search Engine Indexing. Sometimes, crawlers crawl web pages excessively and result into over-crawling a website. Every hit made by a crawler adds to your server capacity and cost. When over-crawling occurs, your server costs go high and the server capacity is reduced. This excessive cost could be beyond 50% of the server cost being paid currently.
By staying on top of these website bot threats, online businesses can effectively build their customers’ trust and their own company’s reputability, taking the first steps to ensuring that they have a successful, long-lasting online presence.