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Bot Detection Services- A Business built on FUD?

Bots are specially programmed software created for crawling and extracting information from websites. Many companies that claim to improve a website’s revenue by detecting and blocking bots have recently sprung up. However, the authenticity of these claims are under scrutiny. Since bots make up about 40% of the traffic on internet, blocking them can cause adverse effects that the bot blocking agencies don’t want their customers to know.

Before getting to the cons of blocking web crawlers from a website, it is important to note that blocking bots is a fairly easy process that doesn’t need any help from an external agency. Setting a disallow rule for crawlers in the robots.txt will tell the bots not to crawl a website. Bots are bound to follow this rule and they do respect the robots.txt in most cases. The only exceptions are bad bots that would go to any extent to crawl a website that it is taught to. This means, even if you really need to block bots, all you have to do is edit your robots.txt instead of paying for a bot detection service.

Blocking bots can have many adverse effects on your website traffic and ultimately, the revenue. This is because bots are a necessary part of the world wide web. Search engines, feed readers, blog directories, web stats sites and many different type of services rely upon bots to carry out their respective operations. Most of these bots are responsible for the exposure that a website gets in the long run. Since blocking bots would make them incapable of crawling your site, this could have a negative impact on the exposure your site gets on the web.

Web scraping is basically the same thing as a human visiting a website and noting down some important information from it. In both the cases, the information on the website is publicly available and is meant to be consumed by users. The only difference is that when it comes to crawling, a bot visits the website all by itself instead of being controlled by a human in real time. Looking at it from a neutral angle, this doesn’t make any difference for the website owner if or not a human is actively browsing the site. For the same reason, tagging all bots as threats is baseless and out of hideous motives. To put some perspective into the picture, Google is a great example of a web crawler that has done more good than bad.

When data is made available on a website publicly, it is freely available for anyone to visit be it programmatically or naturally. This clears the air on why bots are completely in the legal zone and need not be worried about.

Bot detection agencies market this service of theirs by instilling a fear about bots and misleading the companies. This type of marketing strategy is known as FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). This is actually the only means by which bot detection agencies can expect to make a business.

Bots are a necessary part of the world wide web and need not be blocked. Even if you have to block bots, this can be done by adding a disallow rule in the robots.txt of your website. It’s obvious that bot detection services are something you definitely don’t require for your business. For a detailed explanation on the topic, visit our blog post on the same:

PromptCloud is a big data company that focuses on large scale data extraction using web scraping and crawling technologies.

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