I noticed an increase in my web traffic for this site and for a minute I was pleased, then I saw where the traffic was coming from and realised that there are some new bots in town. Say hi to Buttons-for-website.com and make-money-online.7makemoneyonline.com.
Having successfully blocked the semalt.com bot that was annoying the heck out of me for ages it seems they are not to be outdone; the buttons for website bot is another Semalt bot. Whilst these bots don’t appear to be malicious – what can be malicious about referring traffic to your site – they do affect your site in a bad way.
Affects your search position
If you look closely at the bounce rate, it’s always 100% and time spent on site is less than a second. When Google looks at this behaviour it assumes visitors aren’t finding relevant content on your site and will factor this into it’s quality checking. Before you know it your position in search results starts dropping. All that hard work! This is not good!
Make money online seems to be using black hat SEO tricks to build links. Any site with a publicly viewed stats page that has been crawled by this bot is unknowingly creating backlinks. If that’s the case for you, I suggest you remove these links.
To top it off Semalt disguises itself as an SEO tool but under the bonnet it is creating a botnet, hijacking thousands of computers to use for its referrer spam campaign according to online security company Incapsula. You should read their report on Semalt. It can also be added to the list of bots that don’t respect the robots.txt file.
Block the bots
If WordPress hosts your site then you can skip this part as WordPress.com already blocks Semalt. If your site is self hosted then read on.
Although there are some bots who don’t honour the .htaccess rule, you can block Semalt and Buttons for websites using the .htaccess file.
Fire up your file and paste the following into it:
# BEGIN block referrer spam from bad bots
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer semalt.com spammer=yes
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer 7makemoneyonline.com spammer=yes
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer buttons-for-websites.com spammer=yes
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer buttons-for-website.com spammer=yes
Allow from all
Deny from env=spammer
#END block bots
Don’t forget to make a back up copy just in case.
More bots than humans
It would be nice to think that this will be an end to the problem but the fact that bots account for 56 per cent of all website visits means there are probably another dozen waiting in the wings. It makes the struggle feel that little bit harder, but I thought I’d share that with you anyway. And just to push the point home here’s an infographic from Incapsula’s 2014 Bot Traffic Report.