Bot Traffic Now Excluded from App + Web Properties in Google Analytics
July 11, 2020
Article Overview10min read
Recent Google Analytics update announces that it has made a change to its bot traffic filter by automatically excluding it from the App + Web properties.
According to the official announcement, “In Google Analytics App + Web properties, traffic from bots and spiders is automatically excluded, which ensures that your Analytics data, to the extent possible, does not include events from known bots.”
What are Bots and Bot Traffic?
The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘bot’ is ‘bad’. Over the years, bots have gained a negative reputation and invoke mindless non-human traffic manipulated by fraudsters.
Bots, or Internet robots, also known as spiders, crawlers, and web bots, may be generally utilized to perform repetitive jobs. For instance, they can quickly check the functionality of links on a website that often come in the form of malware. These malware bots are used to gain total control over a computer. However, bots are not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on what they’re used for. One of the typical “good” bots is web crawlers that Google uses to gather information by crawling on to the web to analyze information and return results. Another one is the usage of automatic interaction with instant messaging, instant relay chat, or various other web interfaces.
Just as bots are handy, they can be utilized for nefarious purposes too. They can be used to target sites by directing heavy traffic to them, causing a crash. They can also harm the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking and steal information.
Google Analytics is probably one of the favorite tools of many, for analyzing and understanding traffic that comes to their site. It’s essential to keep the Google Analytics reports as clean and accurate as possible else it results in bot traffic, which is any non-human traffic that visits a website. If your website experiences unauthorized bot traffic, it can impact analytics metrics such as page views, bounce rate, session duration, geolocation of users, and conversions. To avoid such situations it’s better to filter your bot traffic and see a significant difference in your traffic patterns that just might help you better understand your website visitors.
Google Analytics Update on Bot Filtering
For regular web properties in Google Analytics, bot filtering is available, but site owners have to turn on the setting manually. They can also set up separate views in Google Analytics to compare their data with and without bot traffic, as Google is more transparent about bot traffic. Google uses a combination of research and International Spiders and Bots List to identify bot traffic, which is then maintained by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), an advertising business organization that develops industry standards, conducts research, and provides legal support for the online advertising industry.
However, with the latest update of automatic exclusion of bot traffic – the best of Google Analytics ability – ensures that a site owner’s analytics data in their App + Web properties does not include events from known bots. It is a fairly notable contrast to how to bot filtering is handled for other Google Analytics properties.
The update was first shared on Twitter by Charles Farina of Analytics Pros, who has used Google Analytics 360 for years:
In the past, users had to manually turn off the option, whereas, now, by default, automatic filtering is enabled and it can’t be disabled.
It’s not too clear why this change came about from the world’s largest search engine. But then if you have a Web + App property in your Google Analytics account you should make a note about the switch to automatic bot filtering.
Web + App Properties
Web + App is a property type on Google Analytics that lets site owners combine app and data to allow for unified analysis and reporting. Reports make use of a set of metrics and dimensions so that site owners can see integrated reporting across the app and web. The data collected can be used to see how many people used the app and visited a site to purchase something. It lets site owners compare user engagement between the app and a site.
Web + App uses a flexible model to collect the interactions between users and site content. The model is event-based, which means custom events can be measured. Events can be tagged as well without the need for additional coding.
The bot filtering in Google Analytics will undoubtedly have a significant impact on web traffic statistics. It will be exciting to see just how much of a difference it will make. With bot traffic accounting for as much as half of the internet traffic in the world, the new exclusion will provide a clearer understanding of actual web traffic. It will also come as a relief for site owners who find manual exclusion irksome, but at the same time, site owners won’t be able to see how much bot traffic has been excluded (until Google says otherwise). Not to mention, manually identifying and excluding IP addresses isn’t as reliable as having Google take care of it. With bots getting better at mimicking human behavior, this change is very likely to be welcome news for site owners.