Identifying Bot Traffic and How to Handle It

Marketers Have Been Reporting Bot Traffic in Google Analytics

Updated April 13, 2023

bot traffic Google Analytics

Have you recently seen spikes in your Google Analytics traffic that is outside of your normal range? Maybe you are noticing traffic from odd referral sources, or really high, abnormal bounce rates?

Your site could be falling victim to bot traffic, which is an ongoing, known issue that digital marketers have been dealing with for years now. If any of the above scenarios fit your situation, it might be time to dig a little deeper.

What Is Bot Traffic?

If you’re unfamiliar, bot traffic can be described as any non-human traffic that goes to a website or application. Essentially, a bot is a software script that is programmed to perform a specific task over and over again.

It is important to keep in mind that bot traffic is not all bad. While some bots are created for malicious use, others are essential for services like digital assistants. Typically, 40% of search engine traffic is known to be bot traffic. Knowing that that number is so high, businesses and organizations have been finding ways to mitigate the issue of bot traffic.

Whether you suspect positive or negative bot traffic, it is important to be able to identify cases where there might be potential bot traffic on your website, as it will skew your overall site data.

Why Is Bot Traffic Bad for Business?

Not only does bot traffic hinder you from seeing the true performance of your website, but most malicious bots are created to perform more severe acts than just impacting your Google Analytics data.

Some of the more severe effects bot traffic can have on your business include:

  • A DDoS attack, which overloads the origin server and can decrease the speed of the site and block legitimate users from accessing the site.
  • For ecommerce stores or sites that rely on advertising, bots can cause financial destruction by triggering fake ad clicks or creating fake purchase orders.

How to Spot Bot Traffic

While there are many parts of your data that bots can impact that may alert you to some suspicious activity, the quickest way to see if you have bot traffic is to check your referrals.

If you select Acquisition -> All traffic -> Referrals in your GA profile, and change your time frame, you will be able to see what types of referral traffic you have received.

Additional Metrics for Spotting Bot Traffic

While taking a quick look at your referral traffic in Google Analytics will be a good indicator of the presence of bot traffic, there are additional data metrics that are worth looking out for, including:

  • High or low session duration
  • Traffic spikes from odd locations
  • Spam conversions (forms and phone calls)
  • Abnormally high pageviews
  • High bounce rate
  • Increased comments on blog posts or pages
  • Comments with an excessive amount of links

“If you suddenly see a source you don’t recognize or one that seems fishy (e.g., “”) suddenly giving you a thousand visits in a matter of days, you might have been the victim of some bot traffic infiltrating your GA account.” – Steve DiMatteo, Digital Content Director at Sixth City Marketing

How to Remove Bot Traffic

Thankfully, there is a very quick and easy way to remove bot referral traffic from your Google Analytics account.

  1. Log into Analytics and navigate to the admin panel at the bottom of the menu on the left side of your screen by clicking on the gear icon
  2. Once at the admin screen, in the second column, click on “Tracking Info” and then “Referral Exclusion List”
  3. Then, select “Add Referral Exclusion” and enter in the domain from your referrals that you want removed
  4. Click save, and you are done!

How to Prevent Bot Traffic

Nobody wants to deal with the repercussions that bot traffic has on a website, which is why it is important to take precautionary steps to attempt avoiding it in the first place. Bots are becoming increasingly smart, causing more damage than ever before.

However, there are a wide variety of things you can do to prevent bot traffic coming to your site, including:

  • Enable CAPTCHAs on your site, and on outdated versions of browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) as much as possible
  • Keep an eye out for failed login attempts to your website
  • Actively block proxy and hosting services (GigeNET, Digital Ocean, and more)
  • Audit every API used on your site that allows data sharing

Additionally, if you want to take precautionary measures to ensure your data doesn’t get interrupted, you can follow the steps above by adding in these well-known bot sources:


If you’re finding that all your efforts are not mitigating the issue of bot traffic, consider looking into a bot blocker service.

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Sarah Blocksidge

About the Author

Sarah Blocksidge

Sarah is the Marketing Director at Sixth City Marketing and has been with the company since 2016. Her main role is to attract more B2B clients for the company via various SEO, web design, and PPC strategies. Over the years, she has been mentioned on HubSpot, Search Engine Land, GoDaddy, Content Marketing Institute, Fast Company, and Mashable.

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