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Classification of Automated Web Traffic

Greg Buehrer, Jack W. Stokes, Kumar Chellapilla, and John C. Platt

Abstract

As web search providers seek to improve both relevance and response times, they are challenged by the ever-increasing tax of automated search query traffic. Third party systems interact with search engines for a variety of reasons, such as monitoring a web site’s rank, augmenting online games, or possibly to maliciously alter click-through rates. In this paper, we investigate automated traffic(sometimes referred to as bot traffic) in the query stream of a large search engine provider.We define automated traffic as any search query not generated by a human in real time. We first provide examples of different categories of query logs generated by automated means. We then develop many different features that distinguish between queries generated by people searching for information, and those generated by automated processes. We categorize these features into two classes, either an interpretation of the physical model of human interactions, or as behavioral patterns of automated interactions. Using the these detection features, we next classify the query stream using multiple binary classifiers. In addition, a multiclass classifier is then developed to identify subclasses of both normal and automated traffic. An active learning algorithm is used to suggest which user sessions to label to improve the accuracy of the multiclass classifier, while also seeking to discover new classes of automated traffic. Performance analysis are then provided. Finally, the multiclass classifier is used to predict the subclass distribution for the search query stream.

Details

Publication typeInbook
PublisherSpringer Verlag
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