5 Tips: Better Ways for Web Scraping

We imagine that for most of you the only scraping you do is part of your battle with baked-on food when doing dishes. Or maybe at the bottom of the peanut butter jar before washing it clean and recycling it. Most won’t be able to associate scraping with anything related to their desktop, but as always we like to talk about subjects that are relatable for web-savvy people with our blog.

Truth told, however, those of us here at 4GoodHosting aren’t experts on any aspect of any particular part of it all outside of being a Canadian web hosting provider. Then why would anyone be ‘scraping’ the World Wide Web, especially if there’s no peanut butter to be had in the first place? Joking of course, but we imagine there’s a whole lot of people who don’t know what this would be to go along with those who are already engaged in web scraping but would be interested in how to do it better.

So let’s get to it.

What It Is

Web scraping is a process, and it is usually automated. The aim for it is to extract large amounts of data from websites. Web scraping gather all the information/data from particular sites or specific data as per whatever requirements may be, and is usually done by companies and brands for data analysis, brand monitoring, and market research. Most commonly with an overarching goal to foster the brands’ growth and development.

The problem for most is that it’s not done easily. Quite often there are IP blocking and geo-restrictions that serve as impediments to doing it. These are of course related to security, which is in-built on many websites. However, it’s true there are ways to scrape better and more effectively. The most common of these tips is using residential IP proxy for higher security, but there are other solid ones too.

Popular sites will have build features that incorporate techniques and strategies to prevent developers from scraping them. IP address detection is definitely the most common of them. Many larger ones may also have IP address detection tools that prevent their website being scraped by suspicious IP addresses. Other data scrape prevention methods include CAPTCHAs, HTTP request header checking, javascript checks, and others.

There are ways to get past those blocks, and that’s what leads us to the next part of this discussion here

5 Tips for Better Web Scraping

Using Proxies

It’s smart to use different proxies to perform web scraping as a means of preventing your IP address from being blocked. If your IP address can be easily detected, it’s probably going to be blocked. It’s also true that using jus one IP address to scrape websites makes it easier for websites to track your IP address and then block it.

Using proxies that offer higher security is the best way to solve this issue. Proxies mask or hide your real IP address to make it difficult to detect. Proxies also provide you with multiple IPs that you can use for web scraping, and being from diverse locations they usually get past geo-blocking or geo-restrictions.

All sorts of different kinds of proxies exist, but residential IP proxies are the best for web scraping because they’re difficult to flag as proxies due to being traced back to actual physical locations. Identifying or banning them is difficult.

IP Rotation

If all the requests for scraping come from the same IP address then that IP address will almost certainly get banned with a site’s IP detection provisions working as they should. However, what if you use several different IPs for sending web scraping requests? This works, because it becomes difficult for websites to trace so many different IPs at the same time. You can get around being identified this way.

IP rotation is essentially switching between different IP addresses. Rotational proxies are automated proxies that switch your IP address every 10 minutes. This constant switching allows you to perform web scraping without the possibility of being IP blocked.

Random Intervals between Data Requests

Implementing random intervals to occur between data requests is proven-effective trick for performing web scraping to the extent you want. Websites can detect your IP address much more easily if you send data requests at fixed or regular intervals. If you use web scrapers capable of sending randomized data asks, however, it becomes much more difficult to identify your IP and block it.

Utilize a Captcha Solving Service

You probably already have experience with these, having to confirm your ‘I’m not a robot’ identity before access to a website is possible. Captchas as the most common technique and Captcha solving services can be used to scrape data from such sites. There are different services available for Captcha solving, such as narrow Captcha, Scraper API, and many more. For most it’s not difficult to find one that fits their needs if there’s data scraping to be done.

Check for Honeypots

Many websites have honeypots preventing unauthorized use of that sites’ information. What is a Honeypot? It’s an invisible link that is used to stop hackers and web scrapers from extracting data from websites. Performing honeypot checks is something you need to do if you’re going to scrape a site. Choose not to and you’re probably going to be blocked.

Even if you are in the know about best ways to do it, web scraping remains difficult at the best of times. Using a residential IP proxy is one of the most commonly used strategies to prevent IP blocking and it’s both the most effective and easily-done approach of all the ones listed here.

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