04 Apr Spammers gonna spam: Technical solutions for stopping bots on your website
There’s a bot problem on our hands. Our feeds have been flooded with tales of Facebook’s fake news and Russian bots being purged from Twitter, but now this problem has reached a whole new level. If you’ve noticed suspicious traffic to your website or spam in your lead forms, you’re not alone.
This past year, we’ve noticed an uptick in traffic from seemingly credible sites…only to realize the URLs haven’t been quite right. People are creating bots that spam your analytics just for kicks (or for an ulterior motive). Either way, they’re screwing up your data and making your work life more difficult than it has to be.
Marketers, roll up your sleeves. It’s time to face your bot problem head-on.
Our collective shambles
So how did we get here? Well, everyone wants to be popular online and sometimes, people pay for it. Whether it’s for something as innocuous as boosting a personal account to something more sinister like flooding our newsfeeds with propaganda or an influencer faking their credentials, social media has become a numbers game. And when you’re playing a numbers game, automation is your best bet for stacking the odds. Sometimes bots are extremely helpful, but at other times, they’re your fiends.
The bots are back in town
This numbers game has gotten so intense that companies like Devumi have popped up to sell fake followers, using large-scale social identity theft to pull it off. And as social media giants like Twitter and Facebook scramble to address and purge the amplification bots, the fraudulent accounts and interactions have found their way onto our own websites as well.
In our case, the spammers are often using a Google analytics feature that was intended for developers. This shortcut allows them to send data directly to Google Analytics for testing, more or less creating false visitors in the hopes that an unsuspecting webmaster will click on the spammer’s URL and create some real traffic. Spammers have even started mimicking the URLs of web pages discussing the analytics problem to gloat and draw more attention to themselves.
What you can do
Get ready, because these spammers are only going to start getting more creative. Here are some solutions you can either sift through on your own or pester your nearest IT person with.
Plugins and scripts
Block IP traffic from certain countries
This tip all comes down to your target audience. If your consumers are all based in the US, blocking IP traffic from countries halfway around the world could minimize the amount of spam you’re seeing. You know your audience better than anyone else, so use this tip at your own discretion.
And if you wind up needing something more labor-intensive
You can check out this multi-step guide.