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Bots: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

David Bosley

Dealing with bots is an unavoidable part of digital marketing. While many bots work to improve your site, a new report from Distill Networks indicates that there’s an onslaught of hostile bots with more menacing intentions.


Let’s start by identifying the three different types of bots. “White hat” bots include search engine spiders and crawlers. “Grey hat” bots scrape your website for information without your permission, such as product and service prices, and use it against you. Lastly, “black hat” bots unapologetically steal from your site, take it over, causes it to crash, or impersonate users.

According to Distill Networks, black hat bots accounted for a staggering 20% of all web traffic last year, and digital marketing professionals were particularly susceptible to their wrath. The study found that 93% of marketing analytics trackers and performance measurement tools had to deal with unruly black hat bots in 2016.

Sites with forms were primarily targeted from black hat attacks. Approximately 82% of these sites dealt with bots attempting to create fake user accounts, but there’s a bright spot on the horizon. Developers are actively preventing black hat bots from impersonating users with new and improved safeguards including two-factor logins and biometric logins.

So think twice before complaining about entering that next captcha!

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