Bots aka web crawling spiders make up about 40% of the traffic on the internet. They traverse through pages on the web looking for data they were programmed to find. If you run a website, you would know that a good share of your traffic comes from bots. Using bots to find and fetch information on the web is not a new practice at all. Search engines like Google and Bing rely on the same bots to help the web users find information they’re in need of. In fact, bots are necessary for the web to function the way it does. However, some people have an aversion towards bots although not all bots are bad for your business. We do understand that there are bad bots out there that could crash your site by making frequent requests or pull data from your site to reproduce it elsewhere, but that’s a whole different story.
What’s even more intriguing is that there are agencies that work by detecting and blocking bots. Paying for something that you can do by just editing your robots.txt doesn’t really make sense. Here is why we think bot detection agencies are a FUD and probably not the best cost center for your hard-earned bucks.
Blocking the bots
Blocking bots on your website is a fairly easy process. All you have to do is create a disallow rule for crawlers in your robots.txt file. You don’t even have to be a technical person to do this, as the process is simple and straightforward. By adding this rule, you are telling the bots not to crawl your website and most bots on the web respect this. However, it has to be noted that there are good and bad bots on the internet. While the good bots will play by the rules, the bad ones would go to any extent to accomplish their mission.
Benefits of the good bots
As we said earlier, bots are a necessary part of the world wide web. Just like your body can’t function properly without a vital organ, these bots are vital to the functioning of the internet. Imagine a scenario where you launched a new site and nobody knows about it. There are search engine bots that are looking for new sites to add to their index and help people discover it. This is how your site gets the exposure that it essentially needs. Apart from search engines, there are bots operated by countless other sites like website stats sites, blog directories and other content aggregators that can help boost your web presence. These bots actually help you to get found on the web by the people that matter to your business. Blocking bots altogether using a bot detection agency would be a terrible mistake to make considering these benefits.
What about the bad bots?
This was the obvious next question. Of course, it is possible that the bad bots will ignore your robots.txt rule and still crawl your site. But as you know, they’re the bad guys. They would find their way to crawl your site even if you set up bot-blocking mechanisms on your site. The end result? You blocked the good and bad bots together, and the bad bots found their way in. This will result in a situation where you are deprived of the benefits that the good bots can give you and ended up losing the war to the bad bots. Eventually, this situation will be catastrophic for your site since you are spending money and effort on blocking bots, which is apparently going in vain.
Why bot detection agencies are a FUD
There has been aggressive promotion by bot detection agencies that claim to improve your business by blocking bots. This claim is, however, not true. First things first. You don’t really need an agency to block bots from your site. All you need to do is edit your robots.txt file to disallow crawler access to your website. It’s as simple as that and that’s the recommended extent you should go to if you really have to block the bots.
The way these bot detection agencies do their promotion is very similar to that of the insurance agencies. They try to instil an amplified fear in your mind about bots so that they can sell you this bot-detection service, which is something you don’t really need. This marketing strategy is known as a FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) and is used to spread misinformation so as to make a business out of it. Not to mention, you should stay safe from such deceptive tactics that could ruin your business.
Bots are an indispensable part of the world wide web. Blocking them is not the ideal option considering how ineffective it is when the bots are bad ones that don’t obey the rules. Since bots contribute to a major share of the exposure that your website gets, blocking them could be a road downhill for your business. To put it in simple terms, blocking bots is like swimming against the current.
Stay tuned for our next article to know what you should keep in mind while launching a new business.
Planning to acquire data from the web? We’re here to help. Let us know about your requirements.