As a new blogger, you probably check your website traffic every day. No such thing as bad blog traffic, right?
And for the majority of you, you don't see much activity in the early stages of your site.
This lack of blog traffic can lead you to try just about anything to increase traffic.
While most of the methods you are likely to use (search engine optimization, social media, etc.) will result in reputable traffic over time, other strategies can result in bad traffic.
What do I mean by bad traffic?
For the most part, it is bot traffic or traffic that scrapes your content for nefarious intentions.
However, some automated bot traffic can be masked to make it appear to be actual users when it isn't.
Before I get to the bad traffic (focused on blog directories), here is an overview of the different types of traffic.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links, I may receive a commission at no cost to you. Please read my disclaimer for further details.
Types of Website Traffic
Understanding the differences between the traffic types is vital for a website owner.
Using this information can help you improve your site by understanding where your traffic comes from and how your customers interact with your site.
Direct traffic is when someone directly enters your website URL or clicks on a bookmark in a browser.
Additionally, sometimes Google Analytics can't identify the source of traffic and may categorize it as Direct. This can occur with some email clients and marketing services, PDFs or other documents, and some mobile apps.
Adding UTM codes to your marketing campaigns can help to minimize unidentified traffic.
Finally, ensure you have Google Analytics set up correctly to exclude your (and your employees') IP addresses. Otherwise, Google Analytics will register their activity in your site data.
Organic traffic is traffic received from unpaid search engine results.
Traffic from links on other (non-search engine) websites is referral traffic.
Referral traffic includes links from other blogs, some traffic from social media sites, and traffic from tools you may use, like Tailwind for Pinterest growth.
If you see a substantial change in referral traffic to your site, you should investigate it further to try and determine if it is human web traffic. See the discussion below.
Most of the traffic from social media networks will appear under the social traffic source.
If you use email marketing, website traffic from emails should appear in this bucket. If it isn't, it may not be appropriately tagged for tracking.
Paid traffic is the traffic from paid ads (like Google AdWords) in search engines.
Traffic that doesn't fit into one of the other areas will show up as other.
Similar to unknown direct traffic, if you want to understand the traffic in the other traffic source better, UTM codes should be added to your various campaigns.
Additionally, traffic channels for Affiliates and Display may appear in Google Analytics for affiliate links and display banner clicks.
Blog Directory Website Traffic
Blog directories can be an excellent way to get your blog posts in front of more eyes and getting more traffic to your site. This traffic will appear as referral traffic.
However, not all are created equal. I'm going to cover two examples, Blog Post Vote Up and Blogarama.
Blog Post Vote Up
Blog Post Vote Up is a site where you can submit one of your blog posts each day. Provided your post is approved, it will be added to the Blog Post Vote Up site.
Users can then vote on posts that have been submitted. And more popular posts have the potential to receive more traffic.
Blog Post Vote Up won't likely send a ton of traffic to your site, but it appears that it is actual human traffic.
Another excellent feature of Blog Post Vote Up is that they only show a short snippet from your post and then provide a link to direct users to your site to read the rest.
On the other hand, after listing your site and it's RSS feed on Blogarama, you'll likely see an instant surge of referral traffic.
And it appears to be excellent traffic.
They stay around for a while, visit multiple pages, and come from all over.
However, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Furthermore, unlike Blog Post Vote Up where you can delete an individual post or delete your account altogether, there are no apparent options for either of those on Blogorama.
The more you look at the Blogorama interface, the more questionable it becomes.
But, what about that traffic that seemed good at first, but now seems suspect?
Analyzing New Website Traffic for Bad Blog Traffic
Just because you start getting a bunch of new website traffic, the activity of that traffic on your site shouldn't vary much from other similar traffic sources.
If you have a bunch of new website traffic with the following characteristics, you should be skeptical of the traffic:
- Surges from the same referral source throughout the day
- A majority of that traffic from similar locations
- Lower (or even 0%) bounce rate than typical
- More pages per session than usual
- Longer session duration than normal
While you probably won't see all of these for every bad source of traffic, you'll likely see some combination of the above.
The problem with this traffic is that it is essentially bot traffic, but it is disguised to appear as human traffic.
Actions to Take With Bad Website Traffic
Once you suspect you have bad traffic coming to your website, you should address it for a few reasons:
- Depending on the volume of additional traffic, it can use up resources and slow down your site.
- Premium Ad Networks
- If you are trying to join a premium ad network like Mediavine or AdThrive that has minimum traffic requirements, they will likely identify any bad traffic, and it won't count towards the traffic requirement.
- Accurate Traffic Metrics
- While this is related to the previous reason, as a website owner myself, I want to know and understand the traffic to my site. And I want it to be a true reflection of my audience.
If you have identified a traffic source to your website that you want to eliminate, here are three recommended options.
Modify Your .htaccess File
To block the traffic from your website, you can modify your .htaccess file.
Modifying this file affects access to your site. So, if you aren't comfortable making those changes, you may want to consider a different option. Otherwise, you may cause other issues with your site.
This article provides the code that needs to be added to your .htaccess file to block a site or multiple sites.
If you decide to edit your .htaccess file, make sure you make a copy of it first.
Use IP Blocker in Your cPanel
If you are a WordPress user, there is an IP Blocker tool in the Security section.
When you open this tool, you can add a domain, an IP address, or a range of IP addresses.
Using this feature will prevent those sources from accessing your site.
Firewall Rules in Cloudflare to Block Web Traffic
If you use Cloudflare as a content delivery network (CDN), I recommend using the firewall rule option.
With a free Cloudflare account, you can create up to five firewall rules.
For firewall rules, rules can be based on an IP address, a URL, known bots, an entire country, or several other options.
Once you select the field and condition to meet (e.g., URL contains blogarama.com), you choose the action you want to take:
- Deny access to the site
- JS Challenge
- Challenge (Captcha)
- The requesting client must pass a Google reCaptcha Challenge
- Most useful for ensuring the visitor is a human
- Requesting clients are exempt from other challenge and block actions triggered by other firewall rules
- Allows dynamic disabling of Cloudflare security features
For blocking suspected bot traffic, I prefer to use the Captcha Challenge. This test blocks masked bot traffic while allowing any actual human traffic through if they pass the challenge.
I tested this with Blogarama traffic before I was able to get my site removed from their directory.
Not only did all of the Blogarama referral traffic to my site stop, but I was also able to see that every Captcha challenge failed.
Clearly, it was all bot traffic masquerading as human traffic.
Bad Blog Traffic Summary
As a website owner, monitoring traffic to your site is a vital task, and understanding that traffic is essential.
Once you have identified any bad traffic, ensure you take the steps above to eliminate that traffic from visiting your site, as well as affecting your Google Analytics.
Have you had any experience with bad traffic to your website? What were the effects, and what actions did you take? Please share in the comments below.