Why should you look beyond Google Analytics? (three out of 5 visitors are bots)

Discussion in 'Articles & Tutorials' started by Fergal, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. Fergal

    Fergal
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    [Guest Post]

    Part of today’s daily ritual for any online business owner is to check their Google Analytics account and evaluate the daily statistical data on traffic. However, there is traffic that Google Analytics will not show you and surprisingly enough, this includes the majority of your daily visitors, the non-human agent also known as “bots”.

    What is a Bot?
    An article on Techspot defines bots as:
    “A program that operates as an agent for a user or another program that simulates human activity”
    Simply put, bots are parts of software, which are able to run autonomously simple and complex faster than humans can. For example, bots are extremely efficient in gathering data or indexing information. Thus, credible search engines always use robots for crawling tasks and for other means of widespread information gathering.
    The big three (Google, Yahoo, Bing) all use a form of bot to crawl index, rank and maintain quality of search engine results. Online businesses and websites use them as well for a number of purposes such as deal shopping, local listings and reviews, chat/help sites, info-gathering websites, statistical data to name a few. Simply there are endless applications for bots here is some known bots and why they crawl your website.

    Types of Good legitimate bots include:
    · Shopbot: a program that shops and crawls around the net for you and locates deals of the product you are searching.
    · Knowbot: a program that crawls and collects information and knowledge by mining Internet sites and gathering information that meets certain criteria.
    · Web crawler: an Internet bot or commonly known as a “spider” that systematically browses the World Wide Web for Web indexing.

    The Bad Guys (Bots)
    Not all bots are designed with positive intent. Today the web is also filled with many malicious bots, which will try to spam your website, steal your credentials, and hack your database or simply DDoS your server into the ground.

    Some of the more common types of malicious robots are:
    · Scrapers can steal content and use them for other purposes, theft of email addresses for spam, and reverse engineer pricing and business models.
    · Hacking Tools can steal data such as credit card information, distribute or inject malware, website or server hijacking or deface and remove content of a website.
    · Spam can post irrelevant content in comments, annoys legitimate visitors, posting of malware and phishing links that cause harm to visitors and can turn sites into link farms causing Google penalties.
    · Impersonators can gather marketing intelligence, Layer 7 DDos attacks, consume and choke bandwidth.

    It is shocking to know that more than half of the overall traffic entering a website is a bot or scraper and they are going undetected. According to website security firm, Incapsula, there is an increase of 10.5% malicious bots and DDos attacks from 2012 to 2013 in their recent online security study. These bots legitimate and malicious can inflict damage, negate your SEO and slow down your site performance. Yes, it is a fact 61.5% off all web traffic is both transparent and non-human, 31% is composed of legitimate bot traffic, 5% are scrapers, 4.5% are hacking tools, .5% is spam, and 20.5% are impersonators and Google is not telling you.
    Because not all analytics software uses the same technology, discrepancies in statistics happen; additionally none is one hundred percent accurate. Google’s Analytic uses JavaScript tracking code (called ga.js) which only sends data to analytics from browsers and user agents when JavaScript is executed and cookies can be set.

    Why do Google Analytics counts ignore bot visits?
    Google’s Analytic uses JavaScript tracking code (called ga.js) to identify visitors, basically by counting the times this JavaScript code was activated, which happens every time a page is loaded in browser. Bots however, do not use browsers and will not activate JavaScript codes, as they visit the website. As a result, bot traffic will not appear in your Google Analytics dashboards.
    Google Analytics is mostly used for marketing purpose. As a result, it was never designed to monitor non-human visitors. However, your web hosting, your CDN (Content Delivery Network) and your security solutions are very mindful of bot tracking. As a result, in terms of overall visits, they can provide you with more accurate traffic data and help you identify bot-related bandwidth usage and warn against malicious bots that pose a threat to your site.
    - This article was written by freelance writer and mother of three, Kathryn Thompson. Follow her on Twitter: @katht35
     
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  2. matthewgayle

    matthewgayle
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    Thanks for sharing this useful information. Google Analytic provides simple analytical tools that are used for measuring a site's performance.
     
  3. Karuna

    Karuna
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    If you use Google Analytics, you’re probably familiar with the standard reports that show visits, traffic sources, top content, and conversions. But if you haven’t gotten into the other features that Google Analytics offers, you might be missing out on new ways to learn more about your traffic
     
  4. Ol1v3r

    Ol1v3r
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    It is easy enough to press a button and GA spews out statistics. It can encourage an element of laziness, especially if your not sure what your looking at.

    Reporting XYZ increase or decrease holds a 'so what' factor. I'd recommend completing the GA training academy or something similar. This way, you'll want to drill down into data and ask questions like 'where did these extra 20 visitors come from?' if the answer is a 'bot' then you'll know how to filter via name or IP address.
     
  5. gazinga

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    Simplistic question, maybe, but do you think it's worth it to use the Premium Edition of Google Analytics? any experience out there? Cheers!
     
  6. Kevin Peter

    Kevin Peter
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    How about Universal Analytics? Does it have any upgraded features to look beyond GA? Please share your thoughts.
     

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