Learn how to filter bot traffic in Google Analytics using the one surefire method. While it won't exclude all bots, it will help clean up your blog's data.
We've all heard the term “bot traffic,” but if you're like me, you aren't quite sure exactly what that means or how it impacts our Google Analytics results.
What is Bot Traffic?
Bots (including spiders and crawlers) are automated tasks run by software applications.
Bot traffic can be defined as any non-human traffic to your site.
Would you be surprised to hear that more than half of internet traffic is bot traffic? I was!
So, exactly why do bots visit our sites? It depends on the kind of bot.
Some of the bots are the good guys. They are there for good reasons.
Here are some examples:
- Search engine bots to index your site so you'll appear in search results
- SEO crawlers for software such as SEMRush
- Monitoring bots to let you know if anything has gone wrong
- Aggregation bots for sites that compile information like a news site
But some of those bots are no good. They have nefarious reasons for visiting.
Some examples are:
- Web scrapers that are looking for things like emails
- Spam bots that leave weird comments trying to promote the bot's website
- Ad fraud bots that will click on ads automatically
- DDoS (distributed denial of service) bots that wreak havoc and can shut your site down
How Bot Traffic Affects Your Google Analytics Data
The good bots are usually programmed and configured in a way that keeps them from being counted in your Google Analytics data.
Bad bots, unfortunately, aren't, so they wind up in our traffic data.
How to Filter Bot Traffic in Google Analytics
Bot traffic is always going to find its way into our Google Analytics data. But you can reduce that amount.
In the settings for your GA views, you'll find a box that says “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders.”
Go to your View Settings in your admin panel by clicking the gear icon in the bottom left side of your screen.
Next, click View Settings.
Look for the Bot Filtering option about half way down the page. Make sure it's checked.
Which Bots Will Be Filtered Out?
When you check that box, Google will not count any bots that are on the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s International Spiders & Bots List.
Who knew that there was an international list of spiders and bots?!?
Now, there are lots of bots that aren’t on that list, so they’ll still find their way into our Analytics data.
If you Google “how to exclude bots from Google analytics,” you’ll get results that will recommend that you do things like exclude an IP address or use the referral exclusion list.
Frankly, both of those options come with their own set of issues. This article from Data Dome does a good job of explaining the problems.
I wouldn’t go down either of those paths.
So, the only good option, in my opinion, is to let Google take care of the known bots and not worry about the rest.
You may already have that box checked. I remember having to check it for a view that I created a while ago. But when I looked at some views on newer sites, it was already turned on.
I suspect that at some point in time, Google changed the default for that option from unchecked to checked.
It doesn’t hurt to take a quick look at that the next time you are working in Google Analytics. This video will show you how.
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