The effects of third-party bot traffic on Google rankings have long been debated. So what influences rankings, do bots have an impact, and if so, how much?
Bot traffic is a bane of SEO reporting because the value of the data depends on figuring out how much bot traffic has influenced the reporting metrics.
If it has had a significant impact, then bot traffic must be filtered out of the reporting metrics. If it hasn’t, filtering it out of reporting metrics won’t change much about the final data interpretations.
If you’re someone who believes that CTR, or click-through rate, is not a myth but rather a determining factor in rankings, then this could be a clue to how Google handles CTR in regards to ranking influence. More on that in a moment.
Even John Mueller explained in a discussion on this topic that Google rankings are not impacted by third-party bot traffic.
The Question: Does Third-Party Bot Traffic Impact Rankings?
George John, a.k.a. The_Scorpionboy, asked John Mueller about bot traffic and the impact it on their SERP performance:
John Mueller wrote the following:
John also reiterated that page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) have no effect on Google search. Both of these metrics were created by external SEO tool companies. They are used to measure the potential authority a page or domain may have, and are based solely on how that tool uses these metrics.
Because they were created by external companies, there is no way to know for sure if or how Google may use these metrics in their own algorithm.
Breaking Down the Question
It’s important as well to go over concerns related to this question.
In this case, it seems like George John is talking about fake bot traffic coming in within the Google Analytics data.
It’s likely that there is no conversion path at all. It’s also likely that this fake traffic is just bouncing out never to return, in which case this involves both CTR and bounce rate metrics.
The other ‘if’ in this scenario regards bots causing a negative impact on your site simply by hammering it with traffic congestion, which has a negative impact on the site’s uptime.
If this problem is severe enough, and if your site crashes often as a result of that traffic, the inability to stay up serving content to your users could significantly impact your site’s performance.
However, that’s a pretty far reach.
Circling back to third-party bot traffic, we believe that bot traffic brings with it plenty of issues. The best method for vanquishing traffic like this includes identifying the IPs that these bots are coming from. Once you find the IPs, you can use Google’s Advanced filtering feature to filter them out of Google Analytics.
General Bot Traffic Impact
If it’s true that bot traffic does not have an impact on rankings, the entire discussion surrounding click-through rates is called into question.
It’s been theorized by several SEO professionals that click-through rates have an effect on your Google rankings. This theory has been accepted so widely that people have created bots just to click on listings in the SERPs automatically.
John Mueller’s statement would mean that none of this ‘beneficial’ bot traffic has any effect on any search results either.
Without knowing the details on both sides of this conversation, we’re mostly limited to guessing. But Mueller’s statement can be added to the list of clues as to how bot traffic is measured.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Apr 2021
Screenshots by Author: Apr 2021