As we reported earlier this year, the deprecation of the Service Provider dimension on February 4th, 2020 broke a key method of fighting bot traffic in Google Analytics (GA)
Like the October 8, 2011 announcement that Google would begin to stop the practice of passing a user’s organic search term to Google Analytics; the deprecation of the Service Provider dimension on February 4th, 2020 may live on with similar disdain. While we mourned the loss of the search keywords data that helped value our SEO efforts; at least there was a reason – better security and privacy.
In this post we’re going to discuss how to block these bots from your GA reports so that you can have clean data from which to make smart business decisions and make more money!
First let’s understand that “well behaved” bots usually have one of two fingerprints:
What kind of tracks does your bot traffic leave? Well it’s best to start with an Advanced Segment that begins to whittle away this bot traffic from the real traffic. Apply this segment to your Google Analytics data and you’ll be viewing only direct traffic that bounces.
Do you see any patterns in the browser version reports? (Audience>>Technology>>Browser & OS)
In the screen shot above we’ve selected “Mozilla Compatible Agent” and version 5.0 with no Java Support looks like a likely bot suspect.
What about identifying bots by ISP? (Audience>>Technology>>Network)
So from the data above we can see some interesting sources of bouncing traffic. Next I created another segment to view each of these ISP’s (1. microsoft corp , 6. yahoo! inc. and 16. Inktomi Corporation).
As you can see from the data above, all of the traffic from these ISP’s bounced.
Your next action is to decide if you want to go a step further and actually filter out this traffic from your analysis profiles.
If you decide to block traffic based on browser profile, then you’ll need to construct a series of filters to do this.
The first two combine browser data together with Java Support (yes or no) to allow you to then filter only the offending browser profile (Third filter listed in the image above) that is utilized by the bots.
If you decide that the ISP route is the way to go, then you’ll have a much easier path:
Where the pattern is equal to yahoo|microsoft corp$|inktomi
Either way, you should remember to:
In summary, it really does not matter why the bot is on your site, what’s important is that they are triggering nuisance pageviews that can skew your numbers and conversion rates. Are they affecting your GA data? Apply the segments above and find out for yourself!