Having the correct data is essential to business growth in 2023, but getting detailed information and creating valuable insights from it can be challenging. Thus, the analogy of data being the new gold and the creation of a bustling industry of Big Data and data analysis. Each company can use data to make analytically driven decisions, and one of the biggest industries that compete for each bit of information is e-commerce. It is a sector worth over $6 trillion and is rapidly growing. Online sales comprise one-fifth of all retail sales globally and will soon consist of a quarter of all sales.
Getting customer data or analyzing competition is a complex challenge. While big corporations can rely on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Big Data science, such an approach could be too expensive for smaller companies. E-commerce businesses, marketers, and other users who need to extract valuable data use web scraping as an alternative way to gather information.
What can you do with web scraping
Web scraping is a technique of acquiring data from a website. A specialized software tool is utilized to source competitors’ data or other exciting websites. It is a cheaper and faster way of obtaining valuable data.
E-commerce enterprises can scan competitors to monitor their pricing policy and stay ahead of the curve. You can also use this technique to see which products are popular or trending, the users’ sentiments, and other helpful information.
Marketers use web scraping to gather keyword information and valuable SEO insights and see how competitors approach specific markets. You can also utilize web scraping for market research to recognize trends, user preferences, and possible opportunities.
To understand whether you have the right direction, you can use scrapers to analyze your brand and see what is being said in online communication.
Your company sales department can also benefit from web scraping. Getting valuable leads is tough in competitive sales, and using scraping to generate quality leads can help your sales efforts. There are numerous other web scraping use case scenarios. However, web scraping is not so straightforward, as some challenges await.
Things to consider when web scraping
The nature of web scraping technology creates some issues with the process. To extract information from a destination website, you use a software tool that sends numerous requests in a second, which can lead to issues with the host server. Because many e-commerce and other websites have quality bot protections, such unusual high-quantity requests can trigger an alarm, and you can encounter a ban.
Anti-scraping technologies focus on unusual behaviour on the website, which can lead to an IP ban. It can quickly be banned if you send parallel requests or too many queries from the same IP address.
Other challenges include techniques like honeypot traps, where websites plant URLs hidden from the front end, but your scraper can crawl through it and earn and reveal your IP.
Another thing some servers implement is robots.txt, which contains instructions on which part of the website is off-limit to bots. If you comply with the instructions, you can extract data; otherwise, it could lead to a ban.
Avoiding IP bans with proxies
If you want to use scraping for pricing monitoring and avoid continuous detection, you should avoid exposing your IPs. One of the best tools for this purpose is a proxy server. For the destination website, the proxy server is the starting point, and the IPs you get from the proxy service provider are what the host servers see.
Proxies hide your identity and increase anonymity and your online security. The most common types of proxy servers are residential, datacenter, and mobile proxies.
Datacenter proxy servers have critical advantages in speed and availability. They are also the most affordable option and you can use them to scrape websites with low protection against bots. The downside of datacenter proxies is their IP addresses are not connected to Internet Service Providers and could seem unauthentic to destination servers.
Residential proxy servers solve the authenticity issue but often cost more and are not so speedy. They have IPs from the actual users assigned from ISPs. Mobile proxies are similar to residential ones because they have unique IPs, only this time from mobile network providers.
Whichever proxy service you use, you will probably have shared IPs, meaning you can encounter an already banned IP. To avoid it, you can choose a private proxy, an IP address assigned only to you, so you won’t have issues with other users’ unwanted behavior. If you want to check out quality private proxy providers, Proxyway has a comprehensive list of top choices.
Another way to mitigate being detected by anti-scraping tools is to use rotating proxies that alter your IPs in intervals and help you finish the scraping tasks. You can also use scrapers with built-in features that allow you to act more like a real person and send requests at a slower pace. Web scraping etiquette should also avoid scraping in peak hours for online shops, and you should follow the robots.txt rules.
Web scraping is a cost-effective and quick solution to the increasing need for data across industries. However, the journey is not without its challenges. Host servers armed with anti-scraping technologies pose obstacles, ranging from IP bans to clever traps.
Proxy servers and scraping software are the go-to options for effective web scraping. You can work with fast datacenter proxies or more expensive and authentic residential counterparts. You can ensure other users didn’t earn bans on the acquired IP address using private proxies. If you use rotating proxies, you can also avoid detection.
Proxies, with their ability to conceal identities and thwart detection, elevate web scraping from a potential minefield to a streamlined process.