5 Web Scraping Best Practices Without Getting Blocked
Everybody seeks greater convenience and innovative techniques to approach a project in a fast-paced world like today. For instance, numerous companies desire enhanced functionality when extracting data from the web.
Because scraping data is a must for every business, companies want a quick and efficient way to get the job done. Here’s when automated data extraction through web scraping comes into play.
But how to extract data from a website automatically? Read on to catch a few best practices for web scraping to harvest data like a pro.
What Is Web Scraping and How Does It Work?
Data collection is as old as the hills. Surprisingly, when we copy and paste data during our college assignments, we extract it from a particular website. However, web scraping takes the data collection process to a whole new level.
It involves collecting structured web data automatically. You only need to run an efficient web scraping tool and let it do its job.
Once it extracts all the data, the software exports it into a usable, readable format – be it an API or spreadsheet.
Businesses use it to extract data that provides them with valuable insights. For instance, they can monitor product prices, conduct market research, and do lead generation through web scraping.
Consequently, they tweak their marketing and business practices for the best possible outcome.
5 Web Scraping Best Practices Every Beginner Should Know
The entire concept of web scraping sounds simple; you need to set up the software, and it’ll handle the scraping for you. But it can get tricky when scraping a website at scale.
You must know the ins and outs of the web scraping process to avoid the hassles you may otherwise stumble upon.
For instance, many individuals who perform web scraping for the first time get blocked. If you don’t know a way out at this point, your scraping efforts will probably go down the drain.
So, before you start your first project, read on to see how to extract data from a website or read the full blog post here.
1. Using Proxies
While you may not struggle to scrape small websites, large sites may ban you during scraping.
However, setting up proxies can save your day, enabling a smooth and hassle-free data extraction.
Using rotating proxies changes your IP address. As a result, websites receive requests from different locations – not one.
This way, you avoid CAPTCHAS, IP blocks, and frequent slowdowns during web scraping.
2. Setting Up a Digital Fingerprint
Understanding digital fingerprinting and how it affects web scraping is another important aspect of your project. Different websites use browser fingerprinting to gather information about a user and relate their activity to an online fingerprint.
This site then finds out your PC’s specifications, including the operating system and browser settings, by running scripts in your browser’s background. It also identifies your timezone, language, and ad blockers you may be using.
The digital fingerprint follows you on the web even if you clear your web history or cookies. Fortunately, you can avoid this by using a reliable API or headless browser.
Taking action against browser fingerprinting is a must for an efficient web scraping project.
3. Locating and Parsing HTML
The data on websites are written using HTML. Simply put, all the information on websites is in a structured form. While it would be excellent to access data in understandable formats like JSON and CSV, websites do not always provide data in these formats.
So, when a scraper receives a URL, it loads the HTML code of the given page.
A few advanced scrapers with the latest technologies may render the whole website. Then, it harvests the specific data you desire to scrape on the page.
4. Handling Pagination
Tackling pagination is another challenge during web scraping. Because websites contain tons of data, displaying it on one page isn’t feasible. Even if it includes small data, displaying all records on a single page makes it huge.
Consequently, data takes ages to load and consumes a lot of browser memory. So, how to go about it? The key is to display limited records per page and give access to other records through pagination.
This user interface is set up at the bottom of the page, and it consists of links that move to the first page, last page, next page, previous, or a particular page.
However, note that the execution varies per website.
5. Extracting Contents to CSV/JSON Files
The story doesn’t end after you have valuable data at hand. As stated earlier, the website data is not readable, and you must extract it in an understandable format to benefit from it.
Therefore, the last and the most critical web scraping step is to harvest data and save it in a JSON or CSV file for further analysis.
The need for valuable data to make business decisions calls for an efficient web scraping process. Perhaps this explains why most marketers and business owners ask, “How to extract data from a website?”
We explained a few tips you must keep in mind when undertaking your scraping projects. However, if you discover more hacks for well-planned data scraping, do not hesitate to implement them!