Web Scraping: Good And Bad Bots – Semalt Explanation

Bots represent nearly 55 percent of all web traffic. It means the most of your website traffic is coming from Internet bots rather than the human beings. A bot is the software application that is responsible for running automated tasks in the digital world. The bots typically perform repetitive tasks at high speed and are mostly undesirable by human beings. They are responsible for tiny jobs that we usually take for granted, including search engine indexing, website's health monitoring, measuring its speed, powering APIs, and fetching the web content. Bots are also used to automate the security auditing and scan your sites to find vulnerabilities, remediating them instantly.

Exploring the Difference between the Good and Bad Bots:

The bots can be divided into two different categories, good bots, and bad bots. Good bots visit your sites and help search engines crawl different web pages. For example, Googlebot crawls plenty of websites in Google results and helps discover new web pages on the internet. It uses algorithms to evaluate which blogs or websites should be crawled, how often crawling should be done, and how many pages have been indexed so far. Bad bots are responsible for performing malicious tasks, including website scraping, comment spam, and DDoS attacks. They represent over 30 percent of all traffic on the Internet. The hackers execute the bad bots and perform a variety of malicious tasks. They scan millions to billions of web pages and aim to steal or scrape content illegally. They also consume the bandwidth and continuously look for plugins and software that can be used to penetrate your websites and databases.

What's the harm?

Usually, the search engines view the scraped content as the duplicate content. It is harmful to your search engine rankings and scrapes will grab your RSS feeds to access and republish your content. They earn a lot of money with this technique. Unfortunately, the search engines have not implemented any way to get rid of bad bots. It means if your content is copied and pasted regularly, your site's ranking gets damaged in a few weeks. The search engines do penalize the sites that contain duplicate content, and they cannot recognize which website first published a piece of content.

Not all web scraping is bad

We must admit that scraping is not always harmful and malicious. It is useful for websites owners when they want to propagate the data to as many individuals as possible. For instance, the government sites and travel portals provide useful data for the general public. This type of data is usually available over the APIs, and scrapers are employed to collect this data. By no means, it is harmful to your website. Even when you scrape this content, it won't damage the reputation of your online business.

Another example of authentic and legitimate scraping is aggregation sites such as hotel booking portals, concert ticket sites, and news outlets. The bots that are responsible for distributing the content of these web pages obtain data through the APIs and scrape it as per your instructions. They aim to drive traffic and extract information for webmasters and programmers.