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Top 5 Web Scraping Tips

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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 promote 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 data center proxy might lead to blacklisting. Thus, it is important to use rotating residential proxies to extract data from websites. At the same time, you should ensure that you have enlisted the services of a reliable provider. 

Trusty providers offer high-quality proxies and access to a vast pool of IP addresses from 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 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, the processor, and more. A web server will likely block the web requests if the UA is absent. This means 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 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 to confirm whether or not a request has been sent by a real human user. Some 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 use browsers, which is why it is crucial to use a headless browser. A headless browser works 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.

FAQs

Is Web Scrap Ethical?

The ethics of web scraping depend on the context and purpose. Generally, web scraping is considered ethical as long as it abides by the terms of service and privacy policies of the website being scraped. For example, if a website allows public access to its data, then web scraping can be used to collect this data for research or other purposes. However, if a website explicitly prohibits web scraping in its terms of service, it would be unethical to scrape the site’s content. Additionally, web scraping should not be used for malicious purposes, such as stealing confidential information or data mining for personal gain.

Does Google Allow Web Scraping to its Users?

Yes, Google permits its users to scrape the web perfectly. Basically, extracting data from websites and storing it in a structured fashion is known as web scraping. It can gather data from various online pages, social media platforms, search engines, and many other websites.

Can a User Web Scrap Without API?

The number of tools available in the market lets you scrape information from websites. APIs and frameworks are two examples of these tools. Access to SERP data, including page titles, excerpts, URLs, and more, is available through both APIs. Additional information regarding SERP results, such as ranking position and click-through rate, can be provided using the Google Search Console API.

Conclusion

Web scraping offers numerous benefits. But to enjoy them, you must follow certain procedures and requirements. Some 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.

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