How does Google Analytics help you to increase the quality of traffic ?
Google Analytics, while being an analytics reporting tool, also provides several add-on benefits which ensures delivering supreme quality traffic to your website. Among the various features, one of its abilities is to exclude bot traffic.
But before we proceed, two main questions arise.
1. Is it possible to identify bots from the overall traffic on a website?
2. Is it possible to ensure that traffic reports generated for a website are exclusive of bots?
The answer to these questions is Yes. Google Analytics does not simply track but also serves as the gatekeeper of your website. Apart from knowing the source of your website traffic, the page the users spend the most time on and the least performing page of your website, Google Analytics also protects your website from potential bot attacks through a simplified process.
Let’s first understand what is bot traffic and why it should bother us.
What is Bot Traffic?
A bot is a humanoid version of the software that is programmed to perform certain repetitive tasks. It is usually automated and operates on predefined instructions. Certain bots like Facebook Crawler and SEMrush bot are programmed to crawl a particular website following certain rules. These are termed good bots.
On the contrary, bad bot traffic is usually automated illegitimate traffic, directed to a website that imitates an actual user. These bots attack and disrupt a particular website. Such traffic is of a deteriorated quality and is difficult to distinguish from genuine web traffic. This is where Google Analytics comes into the picture.
How to Identify Bots in Google Analytics?
There are two ways to identify bots in Google Analytics:
1. The simplest and most economical way to identify bots is to use the automatic filter in Google Analytics. To enable the same, all you need to do is go to the view setting and check the box that says, “Exclude all hits from bots and known spiders”. This filter excludes the bots almost 60% of the time.
2. While Google Analytics provides you with exact details of users from different sources, we must manually use a few indicators to establish a clear difference between genuine and bot traffic. A few such indicators are:
a) A sudden spike in the number of page views over a period of time.
b) A large number of users from an unknown location.
c) A large group of users from the same city, using the same network provider that has high bounce rates.
d) An unusually high or low average session duration.
e) Strange user interaction with different elements of the website like no clicks on buttons.
f) Hostnames that aren’t the original websites.
Now that we have identified the bots, let’s take a look at how we can filter them through Google Analytics
Steps to Exclude Bot Traffic in Google Analytics
DISCLAIMER: We recommend creating a separate view in Google Analytics to test the bot traffic exclusion process. Any data once lost can never be retrieved.
- Create a New Google Analytics View: This step is crucial since the filtered data in Google Analytics can never be recovered. Thus, before testing anything, ensure that a separate view is created so that the original data is always safe.
- Bot Reviewing: This involves identifying the similarities between the bots. It could either be the same IP address, hostname, geographical location etc.
For example: To check for similarity in the hostname, follow the given steps:
- Go to ‘Acquisitions’
- From the dropdown, select ‘All Traffic’
- In the sub-category, select ‘Source/Medium’
- In the ‘Source’ table, go to ‘Secondary dimension’ and search for ‘hostname’.
- The table shall get updated with the filter applied.
- Identify the hostnames which are not the original websites. These are the bots you must get rid of.
3. Go to the ‘Admin’ panel in Google Analytics. For your chosen view, select ‘Filters’ from the view column of the admin panel.
4. Click ‘Add Filter’.
5. Name your filter for easy recognition in the future.
6. Select the filter type. It can either be a ‘Predefined’ or ‘Custom’ filter depending on the factor used for filtering out the bot.
7. Use the ‘Filter Field’ drop down to select the type of dimension (Hostname, Request URL etc.) to be filtered out. In the ‘Filter Pattern’ box, enter the text you wish to use to identify the bot traffic to your website. The text can also be case sensitive based on your needs.
8. Click ‘Save’.
Within 24 hours, the filter starts working. If the additional (or test) view is showing the required results for a certain period, add the filter to your original view.
As much as the Google Analytics bot filtering process provides respectable results, it cannot guarantee a full-proof defence from bot attacks. Moreover, to combat fraudulent activities from click farms, Analytics cannot detect unusual activities as they are similar to humans performing the required actions. This is where third-party ad fraud detectors like Clear Trust comes into the picture. Such service providers specialize in employing fraud detection techniques, unlike Google Analytics whose primary objective is to provide analytical reports.
As we understand the role of Google Analytics in shaping the quality of traffic, various factors contribute to the quality of users who visit your website in the digital ecosystem that shall be discussed in the forthcoming articles.