Four Unrevealed Secrets About Web Scraping

Web scraping is the most efficient way of retrieving data from webpages for research and analysis. However, before starting the process, it is important to know a few facts many people don’t consider before web scraping. The following is a list of things to keep in mind to avoid mistakes when scraping. 

The Majority of Websites Have Security Problems

Many websites are suspicious of web crawlers and scrapers, but most have more severe things to worry about than a scraper retrieving their content. According to White Hat, it is estimated that a majority, up to 63%, of websites have at least one high, critical or urgent security issue. These issues may include spoofing bugs, insufficient authorization, cross-site request forgery, and other problems. Websites have an average of 17 serious issues over the lifetime of their site and it is unlikely that most of them can be eliminated.

This has implications for website users, especially those who have entered their passwords and payment details on a site. For web scraping, you may need to use passwords to access material, and it is important to be aware these may not be safe on many sites.

The data you scrape from the website may be infected, so it is important to have top-notch security tools to detect potentially tainted material when scraping. If you scrape using a reliable web proxy, your IP address will be shielded, and website intruders are less likely to obtain access to your information.

Bots Could Block You

Websites tend to be alert to a substantial amount of activity. Although the goal is to increase traffic to their site, there is unease about the notion that competitors are scraping text from their webpage to analyze and find ways to attract new customers. However, that is the way the marketing game is played nowadays on all sides.

In an attempt to try to catch those who want to scrape pages for research, many sites have automated bots that detect proxies and crawlers and, in some cases, block them. Many web scraping tools may include rotating IPs to throw off these bots from sensing a specific IP address by alternating them regularly. A proxy for web scraping is a good way to stay a step ahead of these bots and continue scraping activity.

In reality, many of these websites are only hurting themselves with these blocking bots. They may not only be blocking competitors but sites that could be researching linking purposes. Blocking these scrapers can reduce the number of links they receive from other sources. The more activity occurs on the site, the more popular it is so that these blocking bots can reduce much-needed exposure.

Also, these tactics invite retaliation. If a site blocks a competitor from scraping for market research, the rival could act in kind by blocking the blocker if they want to participate in the game and do their own scraping in the future.

Sites Are Spying on You

There have been many high-profile scandals about famous websites selling user data to companies. However, the only reason these stories made the headlines is the sheer size of the players.

The fact is, every site is collecting data about users, whether it is Facebook or a WordPress Site set up by your local shoe store. Data analytics, which is the basis of most marketing strategies, depends on user data, so it should be no surprise that websites are collecting information about visitors any way they can.

Websites can collect your IP address and find out your location, actions visitors take on the site, browser and device data, and activity across various sites. This means that while your scrape a site, a website will know that you are scraping, how long you spend scraping, and may also find out your IP and other information.

For this reason, it is essential not to scrape without a proxy that will provide an alternate address and hide your IP address from the website. It can also prevent the site from blocking you, so you can keep scraping with no worries.

Most Websites Are Changing Constantly

Websites may appear the same from day to day. Still, if you look closer, you may notice regular changes, such as tweaks to content, layout alterations, new promotions and videos, and updates to security codes. To provide a fresh and new experience to visitors, sites are updated regularly, which may be suitable for the user but can pose problems for the web scraper.

These constant changes create obstacles for web scraping. For instance, if even some small changes have been made between web crawling that determines which pages will be scraped and the actual scraping, significant errors can creep in. The need to have an efficient system of web crawling and scraping in place can prevent the problems and reduce the time between crawling and scraping.

 If an alteration causing errors has occurred during the scraping period, the process may have to be repeated with the new version. Consistent changes in website text is a good reason for monitoring websites you are scraping long-term and do a repeated scraping to get updated versions of the site.

Be Prepared

Becoming aware of certain facts about websites before beginning the scraping process will prevent security problems, inefficient retrieval of text, errors, and the headache of being blocked during scraping. Scraping with a proxy is essential to protect yourself against having your data and IP address detected. Once you are prepared with the right tools and knowledge, you can start scraping sites safely and easily.