Web scraping is an inseparable part of a modern business environment. With a competition level elevated by information technologies, companies have more equal opportunities but need innovative ways to accumulate and utilize resources. When everyone has access to unfathomable amounts of public data, businesses that use the best ways to extract, analyze, and apply acquired information will always make more accurate decisions to one-up the competition.
Such modernization forces both new and old businesses to hire personnel with some level of technical proficiency. Web scraping is the initial process of data analysis – it allows us to collect information at a far faster rate than a human user ever could.
Because automated information extraction is by no means new phenomena, most modern companies already utilize web scraping. Its most common application is data extraction from competitors for price monitoring, which allows businesses to make fast adjustments and updates to provide the best and most affordable services. But when everyone engages in web scraping, we encounter limitations that slow down or sabotage the entire process.
In this article, we will briefly go over the process of web scraping and the safety precautions businesses can use to maximize the benefits of data extraction. With this knowledge, you will be able to continue scraping without interruptions and avoid illegal data extraction. We will also talk about proxy servers and their necessity for web scraping. For example, datacenter proxies are cheap and fast servers, but they are not always applicable for scraping operations. We will discuss how other proxy types can be advantageous in data extraction and why you cannot always use datacenter proxies. Invest your time in mastering the usage of these tools to get the most out of data aggregation!
The best way to analyze the disturbances in web scraping is to analyze its presence in E-commerce. Price sensitivity between competitors is at an all-time high because companies need to stay on their toes and make constant adjustments to compete in a digitalized business environment.
While most companies use web scraping to some extent, they are also aware of the exposure of their public data to competitor bots. One of the main goals for modern businesses is maintaining a high level of real user engagement. Scraping bots skew valuable data by rapidly extracting information from a web page and delivering it into the hands of competitors. Web owners use rate-limiting, demand login access, and implement various changes to either recognize and ban bots or limit their functionality. Unsophisticated scraping bots are easy to spot if they use a different user agent or send more data requests than a real user ever would.
With proxies, you will never expose your IP address. When scraping bots send data requests through an intermediary server, the receiving party can block it, but it gives you leeway to adjust scraping settings to create a perfect safety/efficiency ratio. Changing your network identity will also help you ensure that you do not fall into a honeypot – a decoy version of a website that redirects suspicious users and feeds them false information.
While datacenter proxies are a cheap choice that helps you maintain respectable speed, they are better utilized for the extraction of data from websites that do not object to scraping. Retailers that defend their public information are aware of IPs that come from data centers and can easily recognize suspicious activity. For these sensitive cases, residential proxies are the answers. Because their IPs come from real devices and Internet Service Providers (ISP), targeted parties will have a much harder time recognizing and banning them.
The legality of web scraping boils down to the type of data you choose to target. Legitimate businesses that seek competitive advantages only extract public data. Any attempts to collect private information from a website are illegal.
While many businesses aggressively disclose their displeasure with scraping in their terms and conditions, that does not necessarily mean you will get in trouble with the law if you attempt to extract data. It just shows that websites that probably use web scraping themselves, are opposed to automated data collection on their website. For these pages, we recommend avoiding datacenter proxies and utilizing residential IPs.
Even though we often deal with web owners that oppose scraping, everyone should have an ethical approach to ethical data extraction for the right circumstances. Some businesses do not mind web scraping and even benefit from the further spread of information. In such cases, we recommend contacting these parties to determine fair scraping terms. Sometimes, web owners set up APIs to create an easier approach to their data and avoid the strain on a web server that comes from the overwhelming amount of requests.
Web scraping is an essential part of successful data analysis. Familiarizing yourself with tools that protect data extraction will help you get the most value from aggregated information. If you are a beginner data analyst, learn the basics of web scraping and start building knowledge for your future career!