SEO experts and digital marketers rely heavily on analyzing website traffic to determine whether their efforts are successful. Likewise, their clients rely on accurate traffic reporting to know whether or not they are getting what they pay for. But what if a good chunk of a website’s traffic isn’t real? What if it is not actually human?
If you try to pay attention to the amount of traffic your website receives, be aware that your analytics data may not be telling you the whole story. There is a good chance that a significant portion of your traffic is being generated by bots. In other words, some of the visits your website is getting are not visits from human beings. They are visits from automated computers and mobile devices.
It is Fast Approaching Half
So how much internet traffic still comes from human beings? For now, a slim majority of the traffic is legitimate. But the volume of traffic being generated by bots is fast approaching half. In 2021:
- 7% of internet traffic was human traffic
- 6% of internet traffic was from ‘good’ bots
- 7% of internet traffic came from ‘bad’ bots
Whether or not you make a distinction between good and bad bots, the fact that nearly 42% of all internet traffic in 2021 was generated by these bots is alarming. How many website owners, advertisers, marketers, and SEO providers are working under the false assumption that the majority of the traffic they generate is legitimate?
Bot Traffic Isn’t Legitimate
Before you argue that ‘good’ bot traffic is just as legitimate as human traffic, consider why the internet exists. It doesn’t exist for bots of any kind. Bots do not gain anything from the internet. They are simply software programs written by people who use them as tools to accomplish their goals. No traffic generated by a bot is legitimate traffic by any measure.
If you are a website owner, bots don’t help you. They do not buy products and services. Bots don’t spread the word about your business. They do what they do only for the benefit of the individuals and entities that deploy them.
Bots and Click Fraud
According to the makers of the Fraud Blocker click fraud prevention software, the biggest problem with bots is click fraud. Also known as bot fraud, this particular crime rips off advertisers by using bots to seek out and click PPC ads. Deploying bots makes it possible to automate click fraud on a grand scale.
There are ways to detect bot fraud by using software like Fraud Blocker to constantly monitor traffic flow, IP addresses, and other parameters suggesting click bots at work. Unfortunately, bot fraud is considered a normal part of PPC advertising that cannot be stopped. Advertisers are conditioned to accept a certain amount of it.
Bots and Social Media
Another big problem with bots is their ability to influence social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all rely on engagement to drive everything from news feed displays to add prices. Click bots capable of artificially inflating likes, follows, and shares throw things off. And who suffers as a result? Advertisers and regular consumers.
There may come a day when the vast majority of internet traffic is generated by bots. We are already approaching the 50% mark. How long before fake traffic eclipses 50%? Nobody knows. The one thing we do know is that not all the traffic a website receives is human traffic. A good portion of it is bot-generated traffic designed to benefit those who deploy the bots.