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Avoiding Detection When Web Scraping

Humans are producing data at an incredible rate, with over 90 zettabytes of data currently on the internet. This number is expected to almost double in the next two years.

This should imply that everyone should have access to enough amounts of data as the world has more data than it can ever finish consuming.

However, this is not so in reality, with data sources holding out and putting up ever-increasing stringent measures to prevent people from harvesting their data.

Businesses and individuals who go out looking for valuable and relevant data in large quantities are often met with several challenges that end up discouraging the user.

So, while web scraping is important to help businesses grow and scale, it is surrounded by multiple challenges.

And in this article, we will learn what these challenges are and how you can overcome them, including using tools such as proxy services.

Why Is Web Scraping Important For Businesses?

Web scraping is also known as data extraction. A scraping tool is necessary to extract the information. It is best described as the automated process of harvesting large sums of useful market data from several sources across the internet all at once.

The process is automated and fast and helps businesses save time and effort while collecting high-quality data in enormous quantities.

Web scraping is important for businesses for several reasons, including the following:

Monitoring and Analyzing Sentiments

One major application of web scraping is in understanding how the buyer feels about certain products and services and how they generally behave in the market.

For instance, web scraping tools can be used to collect comments and feedback from various sites, and the data can be properly analyzed to get a full understanding of the consumers’ thoughts, feelings, and concerns.

Monitoring Prices and Competitors

Web scraping is also one of the most efficient ways to monitor competitors and prices across different market spaces.

Businesses that rely on their gut feelings to generate prices often find themselves at the losing end, while those that depend on well-informed insights continue to prosper in the market.

Protecting the Brand

Brand protection comes in many forms but is considered a crucial part of doing business in today’s digital world.

Even the tiniest negative feedback or comment can damage a brand’s reputation when left unaddressed.

This is why serious businesses use processes like web scraping to regularly monitor and collect every piece of information that mentions the company.

This data is often comments, reviews, and feedback left by customers. The data is quickly analyzed, and appropriate responses are immediately deployed to keep the establishment in good light.

Generating High-Quality Leads

Lastly, web scraping is crucial in finding new customers and increasing a business’s market base.

In this regard, data is extracted from major e-Commerce websites that sell similar products as the business. Such data usually include names and contact information.

This is followed up upon, and the customers are more receptive to being exposed to similar products or services.

What Are Some Web Scraping Challenges?

As mentioned above, web scraping can also be a very terrible and traumatic experience because of the many challenges that users sometimes have to go through.

Getting Blocked

The first and most common challenge that most brands have to put up with is getting blocked while collecting data.

This occurs largely when the target website has collected information such as IP addresses and created a unique fingerprint about the user.

The user is then blocked once they try to perform a repetitive task which is exactly what web scraping is.

Website Changes

Sometimes, changes in the website structure can also constitute a serious challenge. This mostly happens when a user uses scrapers and tools that find it difficult to adjust to new structures and thereby crash upon encounter. When this happens, it is impossible to collect more data with those tools.

Websites Limitations

In other cases, it is not website changes that inhibit data extraction; rather, certain limitations are put in place to prevent scraping tools from interacting with the server.

Some of these measures include anti-scraping technologies such as CAPTCHA tests.

These tests are designed to be easy to answer by humans but tricky for scraping bots to get right.

Other technologies include honeypots which can be seen and followed by scraping bots but are completely invisible to the human eye.

Geo-Restrictions

Recently, geo-restriction has become a serious concern for businesses from certain regions.

This technology is used to identify IPs coming from specific locations. Those emanating from forbidden locations are banned completely or given only limited access to the server’s content.

Tips For Overcoming These Challenges

Luckily, there is more than one way to deal with the above web scraping challenges:

Using a Proxy Service Provider

For businesses and individuals alike, proxy services have become one of the most efficient solutions for bypassing data collection challenges.

Proxies are useful in different areas – from switching IPs to prevent getting banned and bypassing geo-restrictions to bypassing anti-scraping measures cleverly.

Take a look at Oxylabs or any other top-tier proxy services provider.

Editing Your Digital Fingerprint

A digital fingerprint is a unique set of information that can be used to identify a user on the internet. Because of how unique it is, it can be used to block a user and prevent them from extracting data.

The best way to overcome this issue is always to edit your fingerprint. This can be done by clearing caches and cookies or using different IPs.

Using a Headless Browser

Changes in a website structure often mean that some tools cannot interact with them. But this is not the case for headless browsers, highly sophisticated tools that can easily read, understand, and adjust to new changes on a website.

They can scrape both static and dynamic websites and can be easily customized to handle and render any data type and format.

Conclusion

Web scraping is critical as it furnishes businesses with sufficient data in a short period, but it can also be challenging and sometimes frightening.

However, you can also overcome these hurdles by using proxy services, headless browsers, or by changing your online fingerprint.

About The Authors

Keith Peterson

Keith Peterson - I'm an expert IT marketing professional with over 10 years of experience in various Digital Marketing channels such as SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), SMO (social media optimization), ORM (online reputation management), PPC (Google Adwords, Bing Adwords), Lead Generation, Adwords campaign management, Blogging (Corporate and Personal), and so on. Web development and design are unquestionably another of my passions. In fast-paced, high-pressure environments, I excel as an SEO Executive, SEO Analyst, SR SEO Analyst, team leader, and digital marketing strategist, efficiently managing multiple projects, prioritizing and meeting tight deadlines, analyzing and solving problems.

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