General Tips on Web Scraping
While there are many different data harvesting techniques on the web, web scraping is probably the most effective method of collecting the data you need. It allows you to tap into the immense potential of raw and unstructured data by giving you access to the top, most trustworthy sources of information on the internet.
Scraping bots can bypass safety and anti-scraping mechanisms to extract the information you need. Both businesses and regular internet users use various scraping techniques and tools to get their hands on the most accurate, up-to-date data.
However, before you start scraping the web, there are certain things you should know to make sure your scraping operation is successful. We’ve made a list of the best tips on web scraping to help you make the best use of your scraping tools.
The Basics Of Web Scraping
Web scraping refers to the process of extracting data from the most trustworthy target websites to accumulate information from a variety of different sources on the web. The scraping tools called scraper bots browse the web, looking for the highest-ranking websites with the freshest, most up-to-date data.
They bypass security mechanisms and fetch the information by exporting it to a format that’s more useful to you. Nowadays, modern-day companies need vast amounts of data for various purposes, ranging from beating competitors to doing market research.
Since gathering all this information manually would require a lot of time and effort, businesses need an automated solution to save time while effectively extracting data and storing it in a preferable and usable format.
Advantages Of Web Scraping For Companies
No matter its size, every company depends on the ability to gather data daily in huge quantities. That’s because the data they collect offers an array of advantages, including:
- The latest market insights – forecasting market events and fluctuations allow companies to beat their competitors and discover lucrative investment and business growth opportunities.
- Increased lead generation and conversion – web scrapers have access to every notable website and the content that can help fuel your email and other marketing campaigns by helping you attract more qualified leads for conversion.
- Competitor analysis and comparison – web scraping is paramount for doing competitor research. It allows businesses to access competitor websites to attract their prospects, discover their weaknesses, and gather user reviews and contact information.
- Price comparison – gathering information on the competitors’ prices allows companies to develop a more competitive pricing model.
In addition, one of the biggest advantages of web scraping is automating the process of data extraction and harvesting.
Five Tips For Scraping
Here are the top five web scraping tips to keep in mind when extracting data from the web.
Use headless browsers
The best examples of headless browsers include:
- Html Unit Browsers
Each internet user has a user agent that contains the details regarding how they visit websites. Modern-day websites read this information, gaining access to the user’s details, such as the device they’re using to browse the web and the type of browser and its version.
If you try to scrape a website without a user agent, the target website will detect your bot’s activity and ban or block it. A rotating IP allows you to use different user agents to appear as if multiple users are trying to access a particular website. If you regularly rotate between your user agents, the target websites won’t be able to detect your scrapers.
The best example is unlocking content that is unavailable in a specific location. If you can’t access some content in a particular location due to geo-restrictions, a rotating IP can help you to appear as if you’re from that same location to gain access.
Prepare for honeypot and CAPTCHA
Many websites use anti-scraping mechanisms to prevent scrapers from extracting the content from web pages. CAPTCHAs are the best examples. These are simple tests that serve a simple goal – to differentiate software bots from human internet users by presenting various tests that bots can’t solve. On the other hand, websites also use anti-spam honeypots for the same purpose.
These bot traps automatically reveal any bot behavior and block it. You can overcome these issues by using mobile proxies to hide your IP addresses and rotate the HTTP headers to extract data using multiple devices.
Use a proxy
The safety mechanisms used by websites rely on IP addresses to detect any bot activity. If your scraping bots are detected, they’ll get blacklisted and permanently banned from accessing those websites again.
However, mobile proxies and residential proxies can hide your request and assign a new IP to each new request you make to appear as if multiple internet users are trying to access a specific website.
Be respectful to websites
Sometimes, all it takes is some politeness to access some website’s content. Although many websites don’t take kindly to web scrapers, some sites allow you to scrape certain web pages. You can find this information in the robots.txt files.
Scraping is still one of the best ways to gather accurate and up-to-date data from the most trustworthy sources of data on the web. Although it comes with certain challenges, web scraping also provides a range of top benefits for both businesses and regular internet users.