Best Practices for Web Scraping

It is no secret that certain websites hold a wealth of valuable data, including price and product details, content, user sentiment, and much more. Access to such data is especially beneficial for marketing and research purposes. And can catapult your company to the next level. Best practices for web scraping come into play here. This article is for those who want to do web scraping in a 100% legit way.

Web scraping is a method of gathering valuable information from the internet. Alternatively, you can collect data manually, but it requires a lot of time and effort. And automated site scraping helps you to work smarter rather than harder. Does it already seem like something you would like to try?

Use Cases

Web scraping allows you to collect publically available data automatically. Then it is up to you to decide what to do with the information you have gathered. We have already discussed some of the most typical application scenarios.

Whether it is for market research, monitoring brands’ reputation, or generating leads, web scraping helps you start your business or keep your current business stay on track. Scraping is one method for staying on the same page with your clientele and maintaining a good reputation.

Hurdles

There are two sides to every coin. Scraping on a large scale does as well. So buckle up and prepare to meet whatever problems come your way.

Bot Access

The owners of your target website may be aware that their material is valuable. Unfortunately, they are not always willing to share their fortune with you. As a result, certain pages prohibit automated web scraping. In such a case, I recommend locating an alternate source that contains similar information.

CAPTCHA

It is a popular method of distinguishing real traffic from fake traffic through a series of tasks that assist in separating humans from scrapers. Almost certainly, you will be subject to this test at some point. If you want to avoid it, include a CAPTCHA solution in your bot. Keep in mind that it has the potential to slow down the scraping process.

IP Bans

If your target website detects a significant number of requests from the same device, it may block or prohibit your IP address. By sending numerous parallel requests per second or unusually high numbers of queries, a web scraper bot is likely to cross the ethical/unethical line. 

If the scraper is skilled and has enough resources, it can carefully handle these types of countermeasures and ensure that they stay on the legal side of the law while still achieving their goals. The most typical solution to this problem is to combine trustworthy proxy services with automated scrapers. Proxy companies give large IP pools to protect you from any potential blockages.

Website Structural Modifications

Websites update their content and undergo structural modifications regularly to improve the digital user experience. A web scraper is designed for a specific purpose and won’t work on changed pages. A slight page modification might result in erroneous data or possibly cause the scraper to fail.

But don’t worry! I have your back! You may create test cases for the extraction logic and execute them regularly to check if there have been any modifications. Smart Scraper from Smartproxy can help you avoid redeveloping the entire thing.

Best Practices for Web Scraping

Web scraping may appear to be fun and games until you begin to crawl on larger pages. Understanding the primary difficulties becomes insufficient at this point. You know what it means. It is time to use some of the best practices for web scraping.

There is a fine line between collecting data and inflicting harm to the web through negligent data scraping. Because web scraping is such a powerful and insightful tool, you should use it with caution. A little respect would go a long way.

Alter the Pattern

The primary distinction between people and machines is predictability. Humans don’t follow the same pattern, but bots crawl in the same way. That is why bots are so easy to spot. So, attempt to mimic human behavior. Click on a random link, move the mouse, or add a delay between two queries, for example. No problem!

User-Agent Swap

When you submit a request to a web server, you also transmit certain information like the User-Agent. The latter is a string that identifies your browser, version, and platform. If you scrape using the same User-Agent every time, it starts to appear like a bot.

That is why I recommend switching the User-Agent between queries. Ensure that the site does not display different layouts based on the User-Agent. If there are certain modifications that you did not account for in your code, the code may fail.

Time between Queries

Web servers aren’t perfect. If you don’t take care of them, they may crash or fail to serve. This may also have an impact on the target website’s user experience. Want to prevent it? First and foremost, make your queries per the interval specified in the robots.txt file.

If feasible, time your scraping to coincide with the website’s off-peak hours. Limit the number of concurrent requests from a single IP address as well. Finally, utilize a rotating proxy service to avoid being banned.

Robots.txt

In robots.txt, webmasters tell web crawlers how to crawl their sites. Most websites have this in their admin section. Before you begin scraping, be sure to verify the robots.txt file. Don’t break the rules. If it says not to crawl, don’t do it. You may face legal consequences if caught. It also undermines the reputation of web scraping.

Conclusion

When it comes to extracting public data, web scraping may be your best friend. To ensure the success of your project, avoid ignoring possible concerns, adhere to best practices, and use the appropriate tools.

Do not forget the best practices for web scraping and the proper proxy! Using datacenter proxies may be beneficial for large-scale scraping efforts that require speed and IP stability. The use of residential proxy servers is ideal for unblocking data in any region and scraping sensitive websites.

About Helen Bold

Writer since I learned to write. Freelancer since I was born. Thinker since my past life. Personal Website: Helen Bold

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