In this era of tremendous competition; enterprises use all methods within their power to get ahead. For businesses, the unique tool to ace this game is web scraping. But this too isn’t a field without obstacles. Websites employ different anti-scraping tools and techniques to block your crawlers from scraping their websites. But there is always a way around it.
What is Web Scraping
Web scraping is nothing but accumulating data from various websites. You can extract information, such as product pricing and discounts. The data that you obtain can help in enhancing the user experience. This usage, in return, will assure that the customers prefer you over your competitors. For example, your e-commerce company sells software. You need to understand how you can improve your product. For this, you will have to visit websites that sell software and find out about their products. Once you do this, you can also check your competitor’s costs. Ultimately, you can decide at what price will you place your software and what features need to be updated. This process applies to almost any product.
What are Anti Scraping Tools and How to Deal With Them
As a developing business, you will have to target popular and well-established websites. But the task of web scraping becomes complicated in such cases. It is because these websites employ various anti-scraping techniques to block your way.
What Do These Anti-Scraping Tools Do
#1: Keep Rotating your IP Address
This is the easiest way to deceive any anti-scraping tool. An IP address is like a numerical identifier assigned to a device. One can easily monitor it when you visit a website to perform web scraping. Most websites keep in check the IP addresses visitors use to surf them. So, while doing the enormous task of scraping a large site, you should keep several IP addresses handy. You can think of this as using a separate face mask each time you go out of your house. By using a number of these, none of your IP addresses will get blocked. This method comes in handy with most websites. But a few high-profile sites use advanced proxy blacklists. That is where you need to act smarter. Residential or mobile proxies are safe alternatives here. Just in case you are wondering, there are several kinds of proxies. We have a fixed number of IP addresses in the world. Yet, if you somehow manage to have 100 of them, you can easily visit 100 websites without arousing any suspicion. So, the most crucial step is to find yourself the right proxy service provider.
#2: Keep Random Intervals Between Each Request
A web scraper is like a robot. Web scraping tools will send requests at regular intervals of time. Your goal should be to appear as human as possible. Since humans don’t like routine, it is better to space out your requests at random intervals. This way, you can easily dodge any anti-scraping tool on the target website. Make sure that your requests are polite. In case you send requests frequently, you can crash the website for everyone. The goal is not to overload the site at any instance.
#3: A Referer Always Helps
An HTTP request header that specifies which site you redirected from is a referrer header. This can be your lifesaver during any web scraping operation. Your goal should be to appear as if you are coming directly from google. Many sites affiliate certain referrers to redirect traffic. You can use a tool like Similar Web to find the common referrer for a website. These referrers are usually social media sites like Youtube or Facebook. Knowing the referrer will make you appear more authentic. The target site will think that the site’s usual referrer redirected you to their website. Therefore, the target website will classify you as a genuine visitor and won’t think of blocking you.
#4: Avoid any Honeypot Traps
As robots got smarter, so did the website handlers. Many of the websites put invisible links that your scraping robots would follow. By intercepting these robots, websites can easily block your web scraping operation. To safeguard yourself, try to look for “display: none” or “visibility: hidden” CSS properties in a link. If you detect these properties in a link, it is time to backtrack. By using this method, websites can identify and trap any programmed scraper. They can fingerprint your requests and then block them permanently. Try to check each page for any such properties.
#5: Prefer Using Headless Browsers for Anti Scraping Tools
#6: Keep Website Changes in Check
Websites can change layouts for various reasons. Most of the time, sites do so to block websites from scraping them. Websites can include designs at random places. This method is used even by the big shot websites. So the crawler that you are using should be able to understand these changes well. Your crawler needs to be able to detect these ongoing changes and continue to perform web scraping. Monitoring the number of successful requests per crawl can help you do this easily. Another method to ensure ongoing monitoring is by writing a unit test for a specific URL on the target site. You can use one URL from each section of the website. This method will help you detect any such changes. Only a few requests sent every 24 hours will help you avoid any pause in the scraping procedure.
#7: Employ a CAPTCHA Solving Service for Anti Scraping Tools
Captchas are one of the most widely used anti-scraping tools. Most of the time, crawlers cannot bypass the captchas on websites. But as a recluse, many services have been designed to help you in carrying out web scraping. A few of these are captcha-solving solutions like AntiCAPTCHA. Websites that require CAPTCHA make it mandatory for crawlers to use these tools. Some of these services might be very slow and expensive. So you will have to choose wisely to ensure that this service isn’t too extravagant for you.
Give PromptCloud’s Enterprise Web Scraping a Try
PromptCloud specializes in enterprise web scraping services. We intend to remove all the hurdles from your way, including any such anti-scraping tools. To understand more about us and experience our services, get in touch with us.