This is a problem that most website administrators have experienced at some point. Let's explore the damage that spam bots can do, and some easy ways to kick them so far into cyber-space they won't be in a hurry to come back.
Every site administrator is all-too-familiar with the nuisance that are spam bots.
Typically, spam bots will flood your website or blog with unsolicited comments and user registrations, which can be troublesome and time-consuming to remove.
But have you ever considered the fact that the presence of spam bots on your site could actually be costing you money?
Each spam comment or user registration not only create entries into your site database but also impacts your server’s CPU and Load Average.
This affects not only storage space (as your database becomes saturated with spam), but your overall server performance too (as CPU runs high and Load Average means the server processes tasks slower).
There are two major issues with this:
- A rise in server costs
The rise in task processing, writing of data, and overall server resources are going to result in generally slower, poorer server performance. As a result of this, your website is not only going to become saturated with spam, but your server running costs are likely to rise due to higher CPU and Load Average. Increased bandwidth or network transfer is also going to hike your hosting bill — not to mention the reduction in available storage space, as your database size becomes larger and larger by the day. Web hosts that charge based on data usage (... and most of the good ones do), will most certainly begin to increase the totals on your monthly invoice.
- Impact on genuine website visitors
Indirect effects/problems caused by a slower loading website/importance of the website loading fast:
- Lower search engine rankings
It's 2018, c'mon. We're at an all-time high in terms of industry saturation, even among growing online industries. Websites that take longer to load are statistically proven to have a lower ranking in Google search (and other search engines!), which hinders your business. Think about it... prospective customers are less able to find your site with ease, and even when they do — your pages load super slow because (potentially) hundreds, if not thousands, (and yes, often even millions) of spam comments are being loaded in the comments section at the bottom of the page. In addition, increased server load can cause a slower load time, as the system is overworked by constantly writing to MySQL (or whichever database software you utilize).
- Slower websites result in less engagement from users
Users are more likely to leave a website after a certain amount of loading time, particularly on mobile or tablet devices. At this point users are not going to wait for website pages to load to access the information they want to find; they can always find it somewhere else, and if the website pages are taking longer than several seconds to load, you are risking a drop in customers due to frustration and impatience. The web users of today are very impatient — but realistically, that's probably a good thing.
- Website speed impacts conversion rate
The website is more likely to experience drop-offs by paying customers if the speed of the site is slower than expected, or tolerable by today’s inpatient users. Users become frustrated easily and have a very short attention span, and a website that won’t give them what they want fast enough will prompt them looking elsewhere.
- Users leave slower websites quicker
The combination of a short attention span and slow page load is going to result in less engagement and user retention. Simply put, you can’t have repeat customers without having new customers first. If customers are leaving the website for reasons of slow load times or an unprofessional appearance (let's take a forum page flooded with spam, for instance), you’re potentially losing out on lots of potential future sales from would-be repeat buyers.
- Penalized by Google for spam comments
Google penalizes websites for the presence of spam because it shows that the site administrator is not taking good care of their website, or monitoring it frequently. This can cause problems because if a bot manages to infest a site with spam, or even worse — malicious code (such as a website redirect in a spam comment), your website's visitors are potentially at risk.
- It’s off-putting to see a bunch of spam on a website
Easily, no website visitor or prospective customer wants to purchase or engage with a company whose website is flooded with spam. It makes the site look untidy and unkempt as if it’s no longer managed, or that perhaps the business owner has gone on a loooong vacation (maybe never to return!).
Methods to prevent spam bots:
- Automated IP blocks for repeating offenders
- Manual IP blocks via .htaccess
So, am I now rid of spam bots forever?
No, well... perhaps, it all depends on how water-tight your spam bot prevention strategy is and how well you've implemented it into your website.
As we mentioned earlier, it's not feasibly possible to guarantee that you'll never have to deal with troublesome bots again, but if you've followed our steps above, it's very likely that you'll only ever encounter the odd spam comment or account, which is far easier dealt with than tens, hundreds, or thousands of nuisance content per day.