Website Scraping Advice for Beginners

Website scraping plays an invincible role in the day to day operations of businesses. From conducting quick competitor analysis to gaining business intelligence. From aggregating the prices and inventory of competitors to getting SEO advantage. The user cases in which web scraping helps the businesses are unlimited.

For starters, web scraping is a technique of extracting useful and related information from the websites and blogs for further processing. Undoubtedly, large and well-established portals have a lot many pages, and it is almost impossible to scrape the data manually.

This is where the entire concept of web scraping with the help of automated scripts and bots comes into the picture. All you need to do is provide the instructions to your bot, and run the script, and you are done. The bot will fetch all the essential details for you, store it in your database, and you can process the data further for conducting predictive analysis and the like.

However, here is the catch: will you allow someone to scrape data from your website? You will not.

This is the case with others too. Most websites do not allow automated scripts and bots to crawl their pages and fetch the data. It might be because your bots consume their bandwidth and make the website slow, and also because of copyright issues or because they don’t want you to outperform them. As a result, they block your IP address and prevent you from accessing the website.

Well, whatever the reason is, the good news is that you can still attempt to scrape websites without getting caught. This can be done with the help of proxies.

What is a Proxy?

We will have a short rundown answering “what is a proxy” question, but this probably won’t be enough, if you are interested to know more about it.

Consider proxy as an intermediary server between your computer and the destination server. Every request that you make to access a particular website is first made to pass through the proxy. This makes the destination server believe that the request originated from the proxy server, which, in fact, originated from your computer.

This whole process keeps your IP address hidden, and only reveals the IP address of your proxy. Thus, this way, you prevent yourself from getting blocked.

Getting Started with Web Scraping?

With this in mind, do you also want to get started with web scraping to gain a competitive advantage and to stay ahead of the competitors? Are you not sure about where to start?

We feel you. You don’t want to get into legal complications, and you don’t want to reveal your IP address as well.

There are two ways through which you can move ahead with this:

  1. Build your own data retrieving tool

You can kick start your web scraping initiatives by developing an in-house data retrieval tool based on programming languages like Python, PHP, or Ruby on Rail, whatever fits fine for you.

The best part of an in-house tool is that you can customize it the way you want. However, developing such a tool could prove to be troublesome. You will need to hire full-stack developers for the proper development and maintenance of the tool. This could turn out to be expensive in the long run.

  1. Outsource web scraping

The second option here is to outsource your web scraping needs. There are various web scraping tools available in the market. All you need to do is run them, and they will scrape the data for you without revealing your identity. You can also choose to buy the right proxies and scrape the required data on the go.

Things to Keep in Mind While Choosing the Proxy Provider

Undoubtedly, developing your own data scraping tool is a more significant responsibility that could hamper your business operations if things don’t go well as intended. This is why moving ahead with proxies is probably a better way to go.

However, it is important to mention here that not all proxies provide the same level of reliability and performance. Therefore, before you choose to go with one, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Reviews

Do your chosen proxy services provider has good reviews online? Do not only look for good reviews but rather it should be the right mix of good and bad or else we will suggest something is fishy. Ensure that all the reviews are honest and real.

  • Account managers

The least you will expect is having to wait for days to get a technical issue resolved. This is why it makes sense to check if your proxy provider provides you with a dedicated account manager. You should be able to reach out to them quickly.

  • Pool of proxies

This is an essential criterion to focus on. Let’s admit that proxies do get blocked, especially if you end up using the same proxy IP address for all your web scraping initiatives. This is why it is highly recommended to go with a provider with a pool of proxies from different locations.

This will help you mimic the behavior of real users and prevent you from getting caught.

The Wrap Up

Web scraping is an important part of marketing and sales strategies. You must play your cards right and extract the required data by staying anonymous, safe, and secure with the help of proxies.

What are your views on this? Let us know in the comments below.

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