Website owners are always keen to know how much “traffic” their site gets i.e. how many people visit the site, which pages they read etc.
We all know that some of the traffic on the Internet is fake, but most website owners hope it is a small percentage of the real traffic. However, some companies in the field of advertising believe that up to 50% of traffic achieved through advertising could be fake.
In this context ‘fake’ means it’s not a person looking at your website – it’s another computer.
This is the reason why so many websites these days insist you answer a Capcha query (click the I’m not a robot button) to prove you are a human being.
Fake traffic is traffic generated by software not by humans. Fake traffic is used to artificially inflate ad revenue by making a site’s audience appear greater than it is in reality.
If an advertising network identifies a website’s traffic as fake, it will likely result in suspensions or even bans on the publisher’s advertising account.
How To Identify Fake Traffic
This is a complicated matter and needs expertise, but you would start by examining the statistics for the website :-
- A very high bounce rate can indicate a lot of disinterested visitors or bots (computer programmes rather than people)
- A very low pages/session figure can mean people attracted to the site are only interested in one link then they leave. If combined with a very short average length of visit can mean automated viewing not people.
- Geography: If your website is in English and you get large amounts of traffic from countries where English is not typically used much, that can indicate suspect traffic.
- A sudden unexplained increase in traffic can be welcome but if it doesn’t make sense e.g. no extra purchases or comments then it may be caused by automated systems scanning your website.
How to Stop Bots Accessing Your Website
Using a CAPTCHA to ensure visitors are human rather than computer is a good start and there is a file on your website called robots.txt which tells bots whether or not they are allowed to access the website. (Check on the Internet for how to access and edit this file on your website). Reputable business bots will access and obey the instruction in robots.txt but scammers, spammers, hackers and many others will ignore it.
If the fake traffic problem is seriously impacting your website and customers, then there are online services that will filter out such unwanted traffic but that does cost of course.
All sites attract fake traffic and the more popular a site then typically the more fake traffic it will get.
If you have any experiences with this problem, do let me know, by email.