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Bots are automated programs created to perform repetitive tasks. With the computing power available to programmers, bots are created to execute tasks at very high speeds, unthinkable for a real human to do the same task. Bots have been in use over the past 5 decades. Modern bots are programmed with good or malicious intents.
There are several good bots. A search engine crawler bot is an example of good bots. These crawler bots (or spiders) index your web page so that it becomes visible to everyone using the internet. Without this, most online businesses will struggle to establish an authority (brand value) and to attract new customers.
Also, one can write a bot to capture live weather updates from multiple locations across the country, and study patterns in temperature variations. A bot can be written to gather scores from favorite football teams over the season, and make projections for the upcoming one with the same set of players. As you may see, these bots are deployed for basic information gathering or harmless fun.
On the other hand, hackers can write bots to illegally scrape content from websites and sell it to your competitors. They can accumulate pricing information, price variations, pricing history and strategy, steal fresh content like news, stock tickers and classified listings, spam your community forums with unsolicited messages and ads, and stress your servers and bandwidth with bot traffic. Well, they can influence election results too.
Even if one of the aforementioned activities are executed on an online business, it will impact the website’s performance, sales conversions, competitive advantage and most importantly, the end-user experience and perception of your brand and services.