A “bot” (short for “robot”) is a software application that is programmed to do certain tasks.
The types of bots you’re probably most familiar with are Google bots that index the web so you can quickly find what you’re searching for, or that scan your incoming email to protect you from clicking on malicious links.
And there are lots of other relatively harmless bots as well …
For example, the second you enter a URL into an ad you’re setting up or you post a URL on any social media platform, their bots will instantly “click” that URL to make sure you’re not linking to something they don’t like.
But there are all sorts of “bad” bots too, like …
Bots that do nothing but search websites and harvest email address for spammers to spam.
Bots that “click” on your paid ads to gather information about ads and webpages being promoted.
Bots created to generate fake clicks (often seen with “solo ads”).
… and just about anything else you can possibly think of.
Bots can be aggressive as they scan links, following every link on every page, sucking up page-after-page of data, or they may simply take a link and look at the first thing it points to — whether it’s a page or just another link — and not scan any further than that. Who knows? Every bot behaves differently.
The point is, the Internet is loaded with bot activity and it’s completely unpredictable.
And the main issue is that many bots do not follow “redirects.”
So for example a bot may “click” on your Facebook Ad or Tracking Link, but then not follow the redirect to your actual landing page the way a normal browser would, and this can lead to stats discrepancies.
For more information on bots and how they can affect your tracking, please see these articles: