Here’s How Bots Can Take Down Your Startup’s Website

October 17, 2016

6:30 pm

Bots. A word that brings fear and concern to even the most savvy technology user, as it should. While some bots are helpful to your startup’s website, there are plenty of malicious ones out there looking to take it down.

Bad bots can generate false ad impressions, serve spam and malware, and steal information. With up to 67% of online bot traffic coming from residential IP addresses, adding to the tune of over $6 billion in fraudulent ad spend yearly, it’s no wonder why dirty bots raise big concerns.

So how exactly are these bad bots hurting your website? Let’s find out:

Ruin Your Reputation

Customers are trusting you with their personal and bank account information. But when bots get into your site and steal that data, they’re leaving your customers at risk and your trustworthiness destroyed. Bots can harvest information users put into comments and forms, which they can later use for a spam campaign or sell to competitors.

They can also spam your site with poor-quality back links. They do this by selling links from your site to clients and then commenting on your blog posts with their clients’ poor-quality links. And if you load your site with so much garbage, it ultimately discourages any legitimate visits from customers. This could potentially get your website in hot water.

Damage Your SEO Ranking

A lot of variables can affect your website’s SEO ranking: content quality, reliable backlinks, fast load time, etc. But bad bots can crawl your website, cripple the functionality, and damage your SEO rankings by overloading and crashing your site, by scraping content and posting it elsewhere, or by slowing your site load time.

Infiltrate Your Customers’ Devices

Customers who visit your infected site (e.g. malware) are at risk, too. Through your website, these bots can do everything from trick you into clicking on ads, social media profiles or even malware downloads. These bots can even inject malware into your sites code, which can lead to stolen traffic.

Throw Off Your Analytics

Your site analytics tell you how much traffic your site gets, how effective your advertising is, and the overall success of your site. But bots can skew these analytics and give you false data by filling out your site forms or engaging with your ads. This will prevent you from getting meaningful data from actual human customers that are interested in your product.

Decimate Your Bottom Line

The average cost of a website security breach is $300,000. While click fraud can drain your ad budget, there are other ways bots can harm your revenue as well. They will inevitably increase the cost for advertising. They’ll give the edge to your competitors by providing information on your analytics to them.

While there’s no way to eradicate these website killers, you can make it harder for them to infiltrate your site. By using these preventative measures to make sure your site’s security is up-to-date, you’ll not only be protecting your site, but ensuring the user experience remains smooth.

Photo: Flickr / Rog01

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Rich Kahn is founder and CEO of eZanga, a digital marketing firm that specializes in fraud protection.

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