A bot is a software application that runs automatically to perform certain tasks. Bots can be good or bad, depending on how they are used.

Good bots are used to perform helpful tasks, such as providing customer service, answering questions, or moderating online communities. They can also be used to scrape data from the web, index search engines, or trade stocks.

Image of Good bots

Bad bots are used to perform malicious tasks, such as spreading spam, stealing personal information, or launching denial-of-service attacks. They can also be used to create fake social media accounts, spread misinformation, or manipulate online polls.

Here are some examples of good bots:

  • Customer service chatbots that can answer questions and resolve issues
  • Search engine bots that crawl the web and index websites
  • Trading bots that automatically buy and sell stocks
  • Moderation bots that remove spam and abusive content from online forums
  • Data gathering bots that collect information from the web

Here are some examples of bad bots:

  • Spam bots that send unsolicited emails and messages
  • Phishing bots that create fake websites and emails to trick people into revealing their personal information
  • Denial-of-service bots that flood websites with traffic to make them inaccessible
  • Social media bots that create fake accounts to spread misinformation or manipulate polls
  • Malicious bots that spread malware or viruses

Here are some tips for protecting yourself from bad bots:

  • Be careful about what information you share online.
  • Don’t click on links in emails or messages from people you don’t know.
  • Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication on your accounts.
  • Install security software on your computer and keep it up to date.
  • Be aware of the signs of a bad bot, such as unusual behavior, requests for personal information, or links to suspicious websites.

 

Some WordPress plugins can be affected by Bots 

 

 

Plugin Advanced Ads comes with a feature to hide ads from bots. While it might sound logical to disable ads for non-humans visitors, you should not use this setting in most cases. Read on to learn more.

Table of Contents
What are bots?
Ads and fraud bots
Common issues with the Hide-Ads-from-bots option
Caching
Humans identified as bots
Not all bots can be identified
Ad-Types and bots
JavaScript-based ads and bots
Other ad types and bots
Tracking and bots
Summary
What are bots?
In this article, bots are considered to be every non-human entity visiting your website. The purpose is not crucial for this definition – though it could be for your decision whether to exclude or show ads for bots.

Bots fulfill many different purposes. Nowadays, more than half of the website traffic is attributed to bots, most of them being crawlers that check your content – like the Google search bot responsible for your site ranking in the search results.

Ads and fraud bots
Showing ads to bots is considered a giant fraud that costs advertisers large amounts of money. Therefore, many entities address this.

While this is a problem, most resources miss the information that a bot executes not every ad code, creating neither an impression nor click that has to be paid.

So one of the central questions for your decision before disabling ads for bots or not is if an advertiser has to pay for it.

Option in Advanced Ads to hide ads from ad click bots
Option to hide ads from bots
Common issues with the Hide-Ads-from-bots option
There are a few common issues with our hide-ads-from-bots setting, which make it worth thinking about whether to use it at all or not.

Caching
A bot might come to your site if your site is cached and you have that option enabled without using Cache Busting in Advanced Ads Pro. It “sees” a version without an ad on it.

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This ad-less page is then added to the cache. Every following human visitor would see the page without ads as well.

Humans identified as bots
Due to a problem with the hosting, an external service running in front of the server (e.g., firewall), or broken code, it could happen that all the traffic, including visits by humans, is identified as bots. Therefore no one would see any ads.

We added a notice to our Ad Health menu in the admin bar, but not everyone sees that. Therefore, we also added a warning on the settings page.

Warning, if user was identified as a bot
You can either fix the source of the problem or disable the option.

Not all bots can be identified
Our bot detection is based on known user agents. This requires the bots to identify themselves. Many custom-made crawlers and especially harmful bots won’t do that. So ads might still show up even by using our option.

To prevent most kinds of bots from executing your ads is by using Cache Busting in Advanced Ads Pro. While it is not meant to hide ads from bots, it uses JavaScript, which most bots do not execute.

The list of bots supported by Advanced Ads can be adjusted using the advanced-ads-bots filter. We identify any user agent, including the terms “bot,” “crawler,” or “spider” as well as specific identifiers like “alexa” or “avira.com.”

The WP Rocket bot is currently the only bot we don’t allow to exclude because the plugin uses this bot to build the cached version of a website, which should always include ads since it will later show to real visitors.

Ad-Types and bots
JavaScript-based ads and bots
You probably implemented it using JavaScript if you show an ad from an ad network on your site. JavaScript runs in a browser, which bots don’t use.

The same also applies to AdSense ads.

Some ad networks use bots to check if their code is implemented and might stop sending ad traffic if they don‘t find it.

Our suggestion: Unless you have a reason to believe that a browser-based bot is visiting your website to click on your ads, there is no reason to enable the option to hide ads from bots in Advanced Ads.

Other ad types and bots
If you deliver ads that don‘t use JavaScript, then you need to decide whether you want bots to see them or not.

You can disable ads for bots if you use image ads whose only purpose is advertising.

You should keep ads for bots if you deliver non-ad content, like some content injections, and want search engines to consider it.

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