Web Scraping

Web scraping primarily refers to automated data collection from websites. It gathers data, organizes it into a structured format, and saves it in a file ready for download. Compared to manual ways of collecting data – for instance, copying and pasting or manually keying data in a Spreadsheet file – web scraping is fast, highly accurate, performs data optimization, and more. 

These benefits have seen web scraping being used in applications such as lead generation, search engine optimization (keyword research), market research, competitor analysis, and price monitoring, to mention a few. 

However, for you to seamlessly and successfully use web scraping without getting flagged for suspicious activity or blocked outrightly, there are a few tips you must follow. And if you are wondering what these important pointers are, read on because this article has covered the top 5 web scraping tips.

Top 5 Web Scraping Tips

Here are the top 5 tips on how you can scrape websites without getting blacklisted:

  1. Use the right proxy servers from a reliable service provider
  2. Mimic human browsing behavior
  3. Use a CAPTCHA solving tool
  4. Utilize a headless browser
  5. Constrain your web scraping to what is legal

Proxy Servers from Reliable Service Providers

A proxy or proxy server is a computer that routes all traffic from your computer, assigning each request a new IP address. Proxies are big on promoting online anonymity, which comes in handy during web scraping. Web data harvesting involves making numerous requests, and if all these originate from a single IP address, the web host might temporarily or permanently block the unique identifier. Using a proxy helps you avoid this problem.

However, not all types of proxies are ideal for web scraping. For instance, using a datacenter proxy might lead to blacklisting. Thus, it is important to use rotating residential proxies if you intend to extract data from websites. At the same time, you should make sure that you have enlisted the services of a reliable provider. 

Trusty providers offer high-quality proxies as well as access to a vast pool of IP addresses from different locations around the world. In addition, some also have in their arsenal advanced web scraping tools such as the web scraper API, which include features such as in-built proxy rotators, use of artificial intelligence (AI), and more.

Mimic Human Browsing Behavior

How can you mimic human browsing behavior? Firstly, scrape slowly or space out the requests. We advise that you employ random delays within the web scraping workflow. A reasonable delay can be anywhere between 2 and 10 seconds. Such randomized intervals help mask the automated aspect of your data extraction because it deceives the web host into thinking the requests are sent by a human user. 

Secondly, use a User-Agent (UA). A UA refers to a text-based file that a browser sends to a web server. This file contains information about the type of browser, the operating system, processor, and more. If the UA is absent, a web server will likely block the web requests. This means that setting a User-Agent prevents a website from blocking attempts to extract data.

Use a CAPTCHA Solving Service

Usually, websites use CAPTCHA puzzles to stop bot activity. And given web scraping solutions are essentially bots, CAPTCHAs are bound to come into play. This is why it is important to use a CAPTCHA solving service. 

Alternatively, you can use advanced web scraping tools like the web scraper API. This Application Programming Interface is packed with AI-driven tools that help it solve CAPTCHA puzzles. Check out a solution from Oxylabs, one of the top-tier web scraping services providers.

Utilize a Headless Browser

Websites employ multiple techniques of confirming whether or not a request has been sent by a real human user. Some of these measures include detecting browser cookies and extensions, JavaScript execution, and even the fonts used. Ordinarily, such information would be easily accessible if a normal browser is used. 

However, web scraping does not make use of browsers, which is why it is extremely crucial to use a headless browser. A headless browser works just like a regular browser but lacks a user interface. In this regard, it renders web pages, thus executing JavaScript scripts.

Set your web scraper up to follow the rules set by the website. For instance, some websites use the robots.txt file to tell web crawlers and scrapers which URLs within site (webpages) to access. Therefore, confine your web scraping to these pages. As well, only collect publicly available data, i.e., what is not locked behind login pages.

Conclusion

Web scraping offers numerous benefits. But to enjoy them you must follow certain procedures and requirements. Some of the web scraping tips that guarantee success include deploying a headless browser, using a CAPTCHA solving service, utilizing proxies, undertaking legal web scraping, and mimicking human browsing behavior. It is worth pointing out that a web scraper API offers most of these services, ensuring 100% success.

Read More: SEO OUTSOURCING

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