Why Proxies Are Important for Web Scraping
Web scraping’s primary purpose is to collect public information from competing business websites.
06:21 05 August 2021
Web scraping is a necessity for any business to succeed. A business needs to have its fingers on the pulse of the industry’s scenario to know what is trending and what their competitors are doing.
Web scraping’s primary purpose is to collect public information from competing business websites. However, various websites have measures that ban any internet protocol (IP) address that shows undue interest in their site information. That is why, to scrape the web for information, you would need to use proxy servers.
A proxy server will mask your IP address so that the competition will not know who is seeking the information. To prevent detection, a pool of proxies is used to make it seem like the information requests come from different IP addresses.
What is web scraping?
Web scraping involves scouring the web for public information relevant to your business. A business does web scraping using automated bots.
A bot is an automated tool that searches websites for pertinent information. The relevant information that is obtained is stored in a format that enables a business to make decisions.
Why are businesses using web scraping
For any business to do well, it needs many inputs in the form of relevant information to help it in its decision-making process, such as information on trends, technology, rival products and prices, rival promotions, etc. Web scraping also enables companies to monitor the web and search for potential threats for their brand identity, improve SEO strategies by collecting SEO data, collect public data from review websites, and much more.
Usually, web scraping is an ongoing process that companies implement to their daily operations. Of course, various challenges occur when web scraping.
Importance of proxies in web scraping
Web scraping could raise red flags on various systems. Keep in mind that everyone is aware of web scraping. Ethical web scraping is done by multiple companies, meaning that they collect only publicly available information. Of course, malicious entities can use web scraping for sinister purposes. The problem is that it is hard to distinguish good bots from bad ones.
To prevent malicious bots, websites have measures in place to stop or ban any IP address that seems to be seeking information regularly. Security measures are a challenge for ethical web scraping as well. To overcome these measures and blocks, businesses now use web proxies in a big way.
When you send an information request to a website, it gets the computer’s IP address requesting the information. The IP address has information about the location of the computer asking for information. If a website suspects that the IP address belongs to a competitor, it blocks or bans any requests from that IP address.
However, when you use a proxy server, it masks your IP address and uses a different IP address. So, for successful web scraping, you need to use proxy servers.
Proxy server pool and rotating IP addresses
Once again, if that different IP address keeps requesting a website for information, it may get banned. Therefore, some proxy servers provide rotating IP addresses so that requests seem to come from different IP addresses.
Some businesses use a pool of proxy servers and make requests through different IP addresses in the pool to fool websites into believing the requests are coming from other computers.
What types of proxy servers to use
To avoid detection, a business could use the following proxy servers:
- Datacenter proxies
- Residential proxies
- Mobile proxies
Datacenter proxies are housed in data centers and are cheap and efficient. They also provide options for rotating IP addresses to prevent detection.
Residential proxies have actual IP addresses from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), so they are almost unblocablle.
Residential proxies are useful to overcome geo-blocked content. There are times when some content is blocked from access in a different geographical location. For example, some Australian content may be blocked to IP addresses in, say, Russia. In this case, you need to use an Australian proxy.
Suppose a Russian computer uses an Australian proxy. In that case, the Australian website could be tricked into giving the information to an Australian IP address. Find out more about Australian proxy on the Oxylabs website.
These are the IP addresses of actual mobile phones. They are expensive to obtain. However, using mobile options is a borderline illegal activity because sometimes the mobile user is not aware that his/her mobile phone network is being used to scrape information.
For any business to be on top of things, it needs information about the competition, pricing, and promotions. A business also needs to know about the latest trends and technology. This information is available on the Internet. And, to get this information, a company needs to use web scraping.
However, it is hard to distinguish malicious bots from good ones, so this is why even ethical web scraping has challenges. Various websites may ban IP addresses that try to collect public data. This is why a business needs to use a pool of proxy servers. Proxy servers are necessary for any web scraping operations.