If you’re a publisher, you know that keeping track of your traffic source and website performance is key to understanding how your content is performing. And if you’ve been noticing some strange fluctuations in your Google Analytics account lately, it might not be all just due to the recent change in the way Google calculates unique visits. It’s possible that a good chunk of that traffic & fake ad clicks are actually coming from bots. Bot traffic can make your website numbers look inflated, and it can be tough to tell which readers are real and which ones are just automated programs. But don’t worry – there are ways to filter out bot traffic from your Google Analytics account. In this post, we’ll show you how to do it. So read on, and get started!
Cut out bad bot traffic
Thanks to Google, most of the traffic bots (other than good bot traffic like search engine bots) that your site is likely to encounter are known to it, so you can easily filter non human traffic out of your google analytics account.
- Once you’ve logged into your Google Analytics account, click on the ‘Admin’ tab on the bottom left-hand side.
- Scroll down to ‘View’ settings and checkmark the box that states ‘Exclude all hits from known bots & spiders’.
Remember that checking this box will only affect abusive bot traffic after that point, not stop bot traffic prior to that point, so make sure to do this as soon as possible.
Detect and filter unwanted bot traffic
While Google Analytics has the Exclude bot filter option, it isn’t 100% failproof, and malicious bot traffic can still make its way into your account even when the option is turned on.
Unauthorized bot traffic is usually easy to detect with tools like Traffic cop but if you’re doing it manually, you’ll see a bunch of users from the same area or service provider implementing abusive clicks on ads unlike the rest of your audience.
Bot traffic is generally categorized as ‘Direct’ and is often noticed as a spike in direct traffic in your Google Analytics account. It is not always the case, but sometimes sudden spikes in traffic in certain dimensions can signal too much bot traffic.
The best way to identify bot traffic is to split test with both manual and AI-based bot detection strategies to see if you can find anything strange.
Here are the dead giveaways of bot traffic you need to look out for:
- Click farms: Lots of traffic coming from the same area, service provider, network, etc.
- Audit the group of users that are resulting in short session durations or a high bounce rate.
- Domain names or hostnames other than your website.
- An unusually high proportion of new users or signups.
- Abnormal traffic spikes during specific time periods of the day.
- Suspicious or shady referral sources.
Once you’re done with the first bot detection phase, set up the filter to exclude bot traffic from next month’s Google Analytics data.
Steps to filter & stop bad bot traffic now
- Creating a new Google Analytics View is a crucial step when it comes to filtering data in Google Analytics. Once you create the new view, split test your changes to see if everything is working out as planned.
- Keeping an unfiltered or raw view in your Google Analytics account will act as plan B in case any data gets wiped out.
- Audit your bot traffic to spot similarities like IP addresses, location, etc.
- Click on ‘Filters’ i.e in the View section of the Admin panel for your new view.
- Select ‘Add Filter’ and name your filter.
- Pick your filter type. You may need to use a Predefined or Custom filter depending on how you plan to filter out your bot (e.g. hostname). Try out both the filters to see what suits you best.
- Be sure to select ‘Exclude’ and head on the ‘Filter Field’ drop down to choose the dimension you are looking for. In the filter pattern box, enter the text you are using to detect bot traffic. Let’s say you’re getting invalid traffic from clickfarms.com, select ‘Hostname’ from the filter field dropdown and type down ‘clickfarms.com’ into the ‘Filter Pattern’ field.
- Save changes.
- Always double-check if your filter is working fine by comparing the data from your new testing view against your preferred view.
- Make sure that you’ve only filtered out bad bots and they don’t show up in the ‘testing view’. We do not want to lose any legitimate traffic.
- Once you’ve made sure your testing view behaves as expected, add your new filter to the preferred view. Following the steps above, make sure everything is copied exactly from your testing view.
There you go! By following these steps you can filter spam traffic from your Google Analytics data.
Managing bot traffic in Google Analytics is not enough
The issue with filtering out bad bots from your GA data is that the bots are not actually gone. Having cleaner Google Analytics data may look bot-free for the first few weeks, but are you really willing to run the risk of IVT, sophisticated bots, AdSense bans, ad revenue clawbacks, and all the other nefarious activities that most bots are set up to do?
No, you don’t.
It’s best to have a reliable and sustainable IVT detection and prevention technology that will safeguard your account 24/7. MonetizeMore’s award-winning bot management solution Traffic Cop uses tested machine learning algorithms to shield your ad inventory from abusive traffic.
Not only does Traffic Cop detect bad bots, but it also blocks your ads from serving to these abusive bots in the first place. This gives you peace of mind as a website owner and ensures that your business is protected against fraudulent traffic attacks.
So, what are you waiting for?
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes bot traffic?
Bot traffic is internet traffic generated by automated software or click farms that perform repetitive tasks like spam clicks. Almost, half of all internet traffic comes from bots that are trying to mimic human behavior.
How do I check bot traffic?
You can detect bot traffic via MonetizeMore’s bot management and invalid traffic solution ‘Traffic Cop’. Their dashboard even allows users to detect IVT by country, IP address, device, and much more.
How do I reduce bot traffic?
Firstly, you can include a robots.txt file that gives out all the instructions for bots crawling the webpage. This can be configured to stop bots from hovering on your webpage overall. For malicious bots or sophisticated IVT, you’ll need to use bot management solutions like Traffic Cop to detect and block non human traffic for good.