Web scraping or web tracking retrieves data from a third-party website by downloading and analyzing the HTML code to extract the data you want. With a scraping software, you can access the web directly via the hypertext transfer protocol or your usual web browser. Scraping, especially on a mass scale, is usually done with automated software such as a robot or web crawler. These tools capture the data you need and store it in a local file on your computer or in a tabular database, such as a spreadsheet or a table.
- Web scraping is super powerful for:
- E-commerce price monitoring
- News aggregation
- Lead generation
- SEO (Search engine result page monitoring)
- Bank account aggregation (such as Mint in the US or Banking in Europe)
- Why Proxies are important for Web Scraping:
- By using multiple proxy servers, you can reduce the chances of getting blocked by the site and extract data more efficiently.
- Many sites display content based on the location that is virtually associated with the IP address. In addition, the data displayed on the site may change depending on the device type. For example, you can use the proxy service to access a mobile phone in France, even if you are in the United States. This is very helpful in tracking different prices on ecommerce sites.
- You can submit multiple requests to the site at one time using multiple IP addresses provided by the proxy provider. And as mentioned above, this can reduce the risk of a ban.
- Sometimes site administrators completely ban certain IP addresses. For example, some cloud hosting services may offer IP addresses that have been blocked by the identified host. You can easily avoid this with a proxy.
- Why Proxies are important for Web Scraping:
- Datacenter IPs
Datacenter IP addresses are the most common type of proxy IP address. These are the IP addresses of servers hosted in data centers. These IPs are the most common and cheapest to buy. With the right proxy management solution, you can create a very robust web tracking solution for your business.
- Residential IPs
Residential IP addresses are the IP addresses of private households that you can use to forward your request over a residential network. Residential IPs are harder to get and they are also much more expensive.
- Mobile IPs
Mobile IPs are the IPs of private mobile devices. As you can imagine, getting IP addresses from mobile devices is quite difficult and expensive. For most web recovery projects, the cost of mobile IP addresses is too high unless you only want to delete the displayed results for mobile users.
We recommend starting with data center IP addresses and setting up a robust proxy management solution that uses stronger networks as they are required. In the vast majority of cases, this approach gives the best results at the lowest cost.
- Public, shared or dedicated proxies
The other factor to consider is whether you should use public, shared or dedicated proxy servers. In general, always stay away from public proxy servers or "open proxy servers." These agents are not only of very low quality, but they can also be very dangerous. These proxy servers are open to anyone. What makes them even worse is that these proxy servers are often infected with malware and other viruses. Therefore, if you use a public proxy, you run the risk of spreading malware, infecting your own computers, and even publishing your web cleanup activities, if you have not properly configured your own security such as utilizing SSL certificates.
The decision between shared or dedicated proxies is a bit more complex. Depending on the size of your project, your performance requirements, and your budget, using a paid service to access a shared IP group may be the right option for you. However, if you have a bigger budget and your first priority is the performance, the best option may be to pay for a group of dedicated proxy servers.
Now you should have a good idea of what proxy servers are and what are the pros and cons of the different types of IPs that you can use in your proxy server group. However, choosing the right proxy type is just part of the fight. The really hard part is managing your group of proxy servers so that you don’t get banned.
When Is Web Scraping Super Useful?
Here are some examples of data mining applications:
Sales Intelligence: Let's say you sell a product online. With Web Scraping, you can control the performance of your own sales. It can also help you gather information about your own customers or potential customers, possibly through social networks.
Price Comparison: When you sell a product online, it is important to constantly monitor what your competitors are doing. With Web Scraping, you can compare your prices with those of the competition, giving you a decisive edge in the game.
Ad Verification: Have you ever heard of advertising fraud? When you publish your company's ads on the Internet, watch out for this kind of very subtle scam. As a rule, it sells its advertising to services (advertising servers) that are required to distribute them on trustworthy websites. But as you know sometimes hackers create fake websites and generate fake traffic meaning your ads are not seen by real people and you are simply wasting your money.
Another form of advertising fraud occurs when competitors try to ruin their brand by running their ads on bad websites. If your ads appear on a porn site or casino site, your reputation may be compromised.
Social Listening: Whether monitoring opinions on specific policy topics or even products, a web scraping tool can extract and analyze these conversations from Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. This application has become increasingly popular with new journalists gathering user-generated content.
Seo Tracking: This usage allows you to extract search engine results from Google. You can analyze the results in specific search words and find the best title tags and keywords to drive more traffic to your own website.
Real Estate Listing: If you want to track the current real estate prices to the desired location, as with price monitoring, you can use data mining tools to view real estate websites.
How Can You Practice Web Scraping Safely?
Web scraping is not illegal as it helps to scratch your website and aids your analysis. The problem is that you are restoring other sites and their activities become a burden on them because of the number of requests you send. This is the reason why websites use mechanisms to detect and block the behavior of robots.
- Below are some of the best practices we've learned to keep your scratching activities up-to-date:
- Don’t Overdo it: This means that you restrict your requests to all target websites so that they do not feel overwhelmed. Do not bombard them with too many requests as this could trigger a red flag.
- Do not cause damage: Make sure your robots do not damage the websites you are editing. Too many requests can overload your server and cause damage.
- Be Respectful: When a Web site detects your web scraping activity, you can contact your proxy provider and ask them to slow you down or even stop you. If this happens, stick to your decision and do what you want. After all, it is their website that you are scratching.
How do you choose the best proxy solution for your project?
Choosing an approach to create and manage your proxy group can be a headache. This section describes some of the questions to ask when choosing the right proxy solution for your needs:
What is your budget?
If your budget is very limited or virtually non-existent, managing your own proxy group is the cheapest option. However, if you have a small budget of $ 20 a month, you should seriously consider outsourcing the administration of your proxy to a dedicated solution that manages everything.
What technical skills and resources are available to you?
To manage your own proxy group for a reasonably sized web cleanup project, you must have at least some basic software development and bandwidth expertise to build and manage your Spider proxy administration logic.
If you do not have this experience or the breadth to deploy technical resources, it's a good idea to use a proxy rotator and create your own proxy management infrastructure or use a proxy management solution that you have created.
Web scraping has become a hot buzz in today’s data-driven business world. In this digital space journalists and non-profit organizations are employing this big data research methodology to shape their visions and edge over their competitors in the industry. Let me know in the comments section below if you have any queries related to web scraping, we’ll be happy to help you out.
Jitendra Vaswani is a Digital Marketing Practitioner & international keynote speaker currently living digital nomad lifestyle. He is the founder of kickass Internet Marketing blog BloggersIdeas.com where he interviewed marketing legends like Neil Patel & Rand Fishkin.
During his more than 6+yrs long expertise in Digital Marketing, Jitendra has been a marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author of “Inside A Hustler’s Brain : In Pursuit of Financial Freedom” which has sold over 20,000 copies, worldwide. He has trained 3000+ digital marketing professionals till date and has been conducting Digital marketing workshops across the globe from 5+ yrs. His ultimate goal is to help people build businesses through digitization make them realize that dreams do come true if you stay driven.