One of the biggest web scraping advantages is its speed compared to manual information gathering. The scraper market is steadily growing, and the predictions are it will reach a billion dollars by 2027.
As more and more businesses adopt the e-commerce model, the demand for web scrapers grows. The Internet is rich with valuable data that can improve marketing campaigns and help outperform the competition. However, getting this data requires some know-how, and if you don't want to waste days of manual work, here's what you can do to improve your scraping techniques.
1. Internet Connection Speed
Let's get to the most obvious one first. Web scrapers connect to websites, make information requests, and then send them back to you. You might not notice a huge difference when scraping one or two websites. But larger enterprises scrape thousands of websites simultaneously, and bad Internet connection speed significantly slows down the process.
Your Internet plan might not be the only thing affecting the speed. If you use an outdated router, it will not be able to handle web scraping that requires both good bandwidth and computational power. Ensure your router's CPU is enough to process a huge information load; the same applies to your device's storage.
2. Use Fast Proxies
Companies do not like being scraped. They implement various protection mechanisms to deny their competitors access to data, even if it's publicly available. One way to limit information access is by monitoring IP addresses that make multiple information requests. If websites notice a behavior pattern, they will mark it as suspicious and issue a CAPTCHA each time it tries to access a specific site. They can also ban IP addresses or the whole subnet.
Combining data scrapers with proxies is an effective way to bypass these blocks. Proxies provide an alternative IP address, and you can use hundreds of proxies to target a hundred websites simultaneously. Rotating residential proxies is considered one of the best for data scraping because they come from genuine users and change the IP address at a selected time interval. This way, Websites can't recognize a pattern and answer all information requests.
However, because proxies reroute your traffic through an additional server, it takes longer to reach the target destination. You should ensure your proxy service provider is picky about the servers and can guarantee the fastest possible experience.
Furthermore, because the proxy server handles online communication, it must be secure. Proxy servers that support the SOCKS5 protocol allow additional authentication and security to ensure safe use.
3. Respect the Robot.txt File
Even if the information is public, it doesn't mean you can carelessly grab it. For example, if you make too many requests to a single website, you can overload and crash it. Needless to say, the website owners would not be happy.
Most sites have a Robot.txt file that outlines their information-sharing policies. They might have an API allowing consensual information sharing, and you won't need to scrape. Simultaneously, they can limit concurrent requests or disallow scraping specific information.
To remain on the ethical and legal site, inspect this file before proceeding with your operations. Due to several misuse cases, web scraping has been given a bad name, and you could heavily damage your business reputation if you misuse it.
4. Use Secure Browser
IP tracking is not the only way websites can notice behavior patterns. Browser fingerprinting is one of the most common contemporary methods of identifying specific users, even if they use proxies or VPNs to change their IP address.
Each browser has its own configuration, which includes time zone, fonts, extensions, operating system, version, etc. Although many people find browsers to look similar, in reality, each browser has unique attributes and can be identified with adequate software.
Websites mark these unique features, and if they notice many operations from different IPs but the same browser user agent, they will either issue CAPTCHAs or deny access. It's best to use privacy-oriented browsers that allow managing multiple profiles and changing user agent strings with each.
5. Cache Data
Many businesses use web scraping to monitor changes on competitors' websites. For example, they can monitor prices to see when they go up or down and place their product accordingly. However, retrieving the same data set each time is inefficient: it's slow and uses limited bandwidth.
Instead, you can use proxies to cache specific data, which remains static. Our web scraper will retrieve it once and save it on a proxy server, and next time it will focus solely on the required information, in this example, price changes.
These are the main methods to improve your web scraping techniques. If you want to go really technical, you can start by introducing yourself to the Python coding language and writing your own scrapers, but that's a topic for an entirely different article. Hopefully, this information was useful.