What Is Bot Traffic and How to Avoid It

By Neal Grosskopf, Software Engineering Director

Published: January 10, 2020

Do you know where your customers are located? Whether they’re all located in one area or are scattered throughout the world, analyzing your web traffic can become a nuisance because over 50% of all internet traffic is bot traffic. As a result, many companies tend to report inaccurate findings when it comes to the top locations of their customers.

But, What is Bot Traffic?

Bot traffic is non-human traffic to a website. When you first hear the words ‘bot traffic’, your mind might automatically go somewhere negative. But, don’t panic! Even though there’s ‘bad’ bots, there’s also a large amount of ‘good’ bots

While ‘bad’ bots can have the power to take down a site, ‘good’ bots can, for example, double-check features on a website, including links to make sure they’re working properly. They can also be used to provide valuable information for search engines and pull in content from your site for websites such as web.archive.org

But, making sure you can distinguish between normal traffic and bot traffic is important for reporting accurate findings. 

Ashburn, VA the City for Data Lovers (and Bot Traffic)

Do you have random web traffic from Ashburn, VA? Well, you’re not alone. We had the same issue with one of our partner’s Google Analytics account.  

After looking at our partner’s account, we noticed that the seventh-largest source of website traffic was coming from Ashburn, VA. While it might not be as obvious to others, we definitely knew something was up since our partner did not have stores in any other locations besides Wisconsin.

So, what did we do? We researched, of course. And, we found out why — Ashburn is home to one of the biggest technology centers in the country. In fact, 70% of the world’s internet traffic flows through the city. Because of this, many companies see Ashburn, VA as a traffic source in their Google Analytics. 

Desktop only graphic leading to more blogs
Mobile only graphic leading to more blogs

So, What’s the Solution?

While bot traffic can be bothersome, there’s an easy way to filter them out of your traffic. If you’re noticing traffic in your analytics that doesn’t make sense, you can: 

  • Filter out bot traffic by check marking a box 
screen shot of google analytics help forum
Source: Google Analytics Help Forum
  • Make a separate view in analytics where it doesn’t filter anything (so you can see the difference)

While some bot traffic can be obvious, other sources of traffic can get tricky. That’s when businesses lean on experts (like us) to help determine suspicious traffic in their Google Analytics account. This way, they can focus on where their customers actually are and invest in advertising where it’s needed. 

Need help determining the source of your traffic? Fill out our contact form and let’s chat!