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How to Detect, Prevent & Fix Bot Traffic in your eCommerce Site | eCommerce Traffic Bots

How can you tell if your eCommerce site is being hurt by Bot Traffic? How do you know if a campaign is failing or your site is just being infiltrated by traffic bots?

For example, if you ran Facebook Ads to a landing page that had low conversions, how can you tell if the conversions are because of the copy, creative, landing page design or traffic bots?

Backstory:

An eCommerce retailer spent $25,000 in Facebook Ads on Black Friday alone.

Which was drained entirely by Traffic Bots and Click Fraud.

We detected 3 specific anomalies on their site, notified the retailer and they fixed it.

How to Detect, Prevent & Fix Bot Traffic in your eCommerce Site | eCommerce Traffic Bot 1

Today’s post is to help you detect, prevent and fix bot traffic in your eCommerce site so you:

  • Don’t waste ad dollars
  • Don’t have a slow site
  • Don’t have bots scraping your site info
  • Don’t turn customers away with painful UX

In this post we’ll cover:

  • 9 stats on the dangers of bot traffic
  • 9 ways bot traffic damages eCommerce sites
  • 6 ways to detect if your site has bots
  • 5 steps to fix and prevent bot traffic

What is bot traffic?

While it’s true that most eCommerce marketing managers and teams know about “Bot Traffic”, it’s very difficult to know when it’s actually happening on your site.

Let’s start by defining what a “Traffic Bot” is. A traffic bot is an automated software program that simulates the behavior of human users. Which is why it can be very difficult to preemptively detect which traffic is human or which are fraudulent bots.

How to Detect, Prevent & Fix Bot Traffic in your eCommerce Site | eCommerce Traffic Bot 2

9 surprising bot traffic stats

  1. Bot traffic accounts for around 40% of all web traffic (CloudFlare)
  2. 40% of all eCommerce traffic in the last year was bots. (Tech.Co)
  3. 57% of all attacks on retail websites in 2021 were carried out by bots (Imperva)
  4. Bots cost businesses 3.6% of their online revenue (VentureBeat)
  5. The e-commerce industry is the industry most targeted by bad bots, followed by travel. (Radware)
  6. User account takeover by bots increased by 148% in 2021 (Imperva Report)
  7. The 5 most attacked countries are the U.S. (43.1%), Australia (6.8%), U.K. (6.7%), China (5.2%) and Brazil (3.3%) (Imperva Report)
  8. Mobile is the preferred disguise of bots, accounting for 35.6% of all 2021 attacks coming from Mobile Safari, Mobile Chrome, etc. (Imperva Report)
  9. Advanced bad bots account for 25.9% of all bad bot traffic in 2021, compared to 16.7% in 2020 (Imperva Report)

How bot traffic affects your eCommerce site

  1. DRAINED AD SPEND. Advertisers pay for clicks, and if those clicks are coming from bots instead of real people, that’s money down the drain. Not only that, but bot traffic can skew your analytics and make it difficult to accurately track the effectiveness of your ad campaigns.
  2. NEGATIVE USER EXPERIENCE.  If your website is inundated with bot traffic, it can slow down the loading speed and make it difficult for actual customers to navigate and shop on your site. This can lead to a higher bounce rate and fewer conversions.
  3. INCREASED COST OF ACQUISITION. As mentioned above, when advertisers pay for clicks and they’re fake clicks from bots, you’re effectively paying more for each customer you acquire. This can eat into your profit margins and make it more difficult to scale ad campaigns.
  4. DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACKS. Bots can halt a site’s network by overwhelming it with traffic. If successful, the attacker can hold the website for ransom (i.e “Denial of Service”) until payment is made.
  5. CONTENT SCRAPING. Hackers can program Traffic Bots to scrape a site for information. This includes text, images, videos, and any other type of media on your site. Excessive content scraping strains the site’s servers and affects its performance, increasing heavy load time and making it difficult for actual users to access the site (from logging into an account to making an actual purchase).
  6. FAKE ACCOUNTS. Bots can also create fake accounts and make fraudulent purchases, which can cost the site money and damage its reputation. Additionally, bots can be used to launch denial-of-service attacks, which can make a site unavailable to legitimate users. All of these factors can have a negative impact on an ecommerce site and its ability to generate revenue. 
  7. CREDIT CARD FRAUD. Traffic bots can be programmed to create fake accounts on ecommerce sites and then use stolen credit card information to make fraudulent purchases. Bots can also be used to test the validity of stolen credit card numbers by making small purchases and then checking if the charges are successful.
  8. MALWARE DISTRIBUTION. Attackers can program bots to visit a site, click certain links, and/or download files to install malware on a user’s computer. Plus, the traffic bot can be used to spread the malware to others by sharing infected links.
  9. GIFT CARD ABUSE. Bots can be programmed to commit an account takeover, use the compromised account to pay for goods from a hacked gift card. In certain cases this appears as attackers using loyalty points to then purchase more gift cards, which were then redeemed for goods.
How to Detect, Prevent & Fix Bot Traffic in your eCommerce Site | eCommerce Traffic Bot 3

How to detect bot traffic

  1. Sudden spikes in website traffic
  2. Traffic from the Same Device
  3. Traffic from the Same Browser
  4. Similar Visit Structures
  5. Unusually high bounce rates
  6. Higher clicks on ads without corresponding conversions

If you notice any of these signs, take immediate action.

5 steps to solve your bot traffic problem

  1. Implement a CAPTCHA system on your website to verify that users are human
  2. Use bot detection tools (click here for a free traffic analysis of your site)
  3. Monitor your website traffic and analytics closely and flag any suspicious activity
  4. Implement security measures on your website, such as SSL certificates and firewalls, to prevent bots from accessing your site and making fake clicks on your ads.
  5. Educate your team about the dangers of bot traffic and the steps you’re taking to prevent it. This can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal of protecting your business from bot traffic.

The bottom line

Now you know bot traffic is a big problem for eCommerce retailers. It drains ad spend, impacts UX and increases the cost of acquisition. Not to mention the countless dangers and damages they cause. So it’s crucial to properly monitor your traffic to spot any anomalies before they hurt your site. By monitoring, detecting, fixing and preventing bot traffic, you can protect your eCommerce site and most importantly, your customers.