What Are The Bots? Unlike assembled by robotics for battles, industrial plant use, or a web bot is just simple lines of code with a Database.
A web or internet bot is just a computer program that runs on the internet. Generally, they are programmed to do certain tasks like crawling, chatting with users, etc., faster than humans can do.
Search bots like crawlers, spiders, or wanderers, are the computer programs used by search engines, like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing, Baidu, Yandex, to build their database.
Bots can locate different web pages of the site through the link. Then, they download and index the content from the websites; the goal is to learn what every web page is about; this is called crawling; it automatically accesses the websites and obtains that data.
Are Bots harmful to your website?
Beginners might get confused concerning bots; are they good for the website or not? Several good bots, such as search engines, Copywrite, Site monitoring, etc., are important for the website.
Crawling the site can help search engines offer adequate information in response to users’ search queries. It generates the list of appropriate web content that shows up once any user searches into the search engines like google, bing, etc.; as a result, your site will get more traffic.
Copyright bots check the content of the websites if they violate copyright law, they can own by the company or a person who owns the copyright content. For example, such bots can check for the text, music, videos, etc., over the internet.
Monitoring bots monitor the website’s backlinks, system outages and give alerts of the downtime or major changes.
Above, we have learned enough about the good bots, now let’s talk about their malicious use.
One of the exploiting use of bots is content scraping. Bots often steal valuable content without the author’s consent and store the content in their database on the web.
It can be used as spambots, and check the web pages and contact form to get the Email address that may use to send the spam and easy to compromise.
Last but not the least, hackers can use bots for hacking purposes. Generally, hackers use tools to scan websites for vulnerabilities. However, the software bot can also scan the website over the internet.
Once the bot reaches the server, it discovers and reports the vulnerabilities that facilitate hackers to take advantage of the server or site.
Whether the bots are good or used maliciously, it’s always better to manage or stop them from accessing your site.
For example, crawling the site by a search engine is better for SEO; but, if they request to access the site or web pages in a fraction of seconds, it may overload the server by increasing the usage of the server resources.
How to control or stop bots using robot.txt?
What is robot.txt?
Robot.txt file contains the set of rules that manages them to access your site. This file lives on the server and specifies the fule for any bots while accessing the site. In addition, these rules define which page to crawl, which link to follow, and other behavior.
For example, if you don’t want some web pages of your site to show up in googles search results, you can add the rules for the same in the robot.txt file, then Google will not show these pages.
Good bots will surely follow these rules. But, they can not be forced to follow the rules; it requires a more active approach; crawl rate, allowlist, blocklist, etc.
The crawl rate defines how many requests any bots can make per second while crawling the site.
If the bot request to access the site or web pages in a fraction of seconds, it may overload the server by increasing the usage of server resources.
Note: All the search engines may not support setting the crawl rate.
For example, you have organized an event and invited some guests. If anyone tries to enter an event that is not on your guest list, security personnel will prevent him, but anyone on the list can enter freely; this defines how web bot management works.
Any web bot in your allow list can easily access your website; to do the same, you have to define “user agent,” the “IP address,” or a combination of these two in the robot.txt file.
While allow list allows only specified bots to access the site, the blocklist is slightly different. Blocklist blocks only specified bots while others can access the URLs.
For example: To Disallow the crawling of the entire website.
To block a URL from crawling, you can define simple rules in the robot.txt file.
For example: In the user-agent line, you can define a specific bot or asterisk sign to block all of them for that specific URL.
(It will block all the robots from accessing index.html. You can define any directory instead of index.html.)