Posted August 10, 2010 7:03 am by with 8 comments

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A great bot army has descended on the Internet.

Tirelessly performing the bidding of its masters, this ravenous horde is invading our websites, taking our content, clicking on our ads and becoming our friends. Most of the time we don’t even know they are there, but they are and at one point or another you need to come to terms with bots.

A bot is an automated software application which typically performs tasks over the Internet. There is virtually an unlimited number of bots performing a dizzying array of tasks. In the world of online marketing, we see bots used to crawl websites, scrape content, check search rankings, automate social media and much more.

In some cases bots are good things offering automation which enables huge advances in access to information (think search engine bots). In other cases bots can be “evil” by stealing content, breaking websites and costing business owners a ton of money.

To be fair to our fellow netizens, the bots, I want to explore the good and bad side to bot usage. I do not endorse the use of any of the bots listed below and I strongly recommend that if you wish you use any bot that you confirm you are not violating your target website’s terms of service, acceptable use policy or any applicable laws. It is always best to have permission before using any bot on a website other than your own.

Twitter Bots
Automatically follow, un-follow, retweet, gather IDs and more.
The Good: Build a following fast and automatically generate content for your tweets (or retweets).
The Bad: If your followers realize they’ve followed a bot you’re not likely to make many friends. Excessive bot usage can get you banned from Twitter.
Examples: tweet adder, InjekTwit

Website Scrapers
Identify and download specific strings of text or images from a website.
The Good: Save marketing admins countless hours of copy and paste work by scraping website content yourself.
The Bad: Scraping is normally associated with taking other people’s content to use as your own or scraping a website without permission or in violation of the website’s TOS or AUP.
Examples: Website Content Extractor,, Automation Anywhere, Mozenda

Website Crawlers / Scrapers – Search Engines (indexing software)
Bots sent by search engines to browse and store content from your website. This content is then used to help rank your website on said search engine.
The Good: Search engine’s exist, and I’m guessing you get a good percentage of your traffic from search engines.
The Bad: You have to learn how this little bot works to make sure your site is accessible and easily navigated by the various bots. Think linking structure and indexability.
Examples: 80legs

Search Rank Checkers
Used to check the position of your organic and paid listings on search engines.
The Good: Learn how you’re ranking across a variety of search engines, countries, languages and more. When used appropriately with an API you will not have to worry about TOS/AUP violations.
The Bad: When not used appropriately, or without an API, search rank checkers may get your IP banned or worse, your website. Be nice to search engines and try to play by the rules.
Examples: Rank Tracker, Rank Reporter, Web Position Reporter

Facebook Bots
Mass friend requests, messaging, wall posting, poking, status updates and more.
The Good: Build your friend / fan lists quickly and automatically update your status, images and more.
The Bad: Everything else. Automated mass friend requesting is a good way to get your account banned and automated pokes just sounds painful.
Example: Facebook Blaster Pro

Comment Spam Bots
Used to post comment spam on blogs, forums and news websites for the purpose of link building.
The Good: None.
The Bad: Your blog is taken over by comments like “I really like your article. You should check out my website about Cialis”. Also, if you get caught using a comment spam spot Matt Cutts is likely to ban you from Google and flame you on his blog. Comment spam that blog post in retort.
Examples: No examples provided.

PPC Bots
Click on your competitor’s ad, influence bounce rates, and generally cause havoc with Adwords accounts.
The Good: None
The Bad: Not only are people who use PPC bots defrauding advertisers, they are also at great risk of being banned by search engines. If you are using a PPC bot, slap yourself on the hand and stand in the corner for 15 minutes.
Examples: No examples provided.

Link Building Bots
Find websites and automatically email webmasters requesting back links.
The Good: Build links automatically.
The Bad: You’ll end up annoying countless webmasters who may end up posting negative information about your website. Couple this with the fact that you’ll be a low rate spammer a hair’s breadth away from being banned by most search engines and link building bots are better left alone.
Examples: No examples provided.

Bots offer a powerful way for you to automate repetitive tasks; however, think long and hard about using bots with third party websites or services. As mentioned before, check the terms of service, Acceptable Use Policy and any applicable laws. It is always best to have permission before using a bot on any website other than your own.

  • Article very god! Thanks u.

  • Great list – thanks alot.

    I’m always pretty sad, when people start using twitter-bots and call that a social media strategy. Bots following bots is far away from people connecting, sharing and talking about things interactively.

    Greetings from Germany,

  • Nice article,Thanks!
    Throws up some useful and interesting information.
    Image is fun )

  • I have read your stories but this is my first time to comment, i love your work

  • Excellent article. I agree there are so many bots out there you got to watch out for 🙂


    A very useful tool for SEO

  • Wang Milanda

    Thanks so much for the great list, very useful tips.

  • You know seobotsite is really amazing for many kinds of seo bots.