Web Scraping

Automated web scraping offers several incredible benefits. You can seamlessly collect massive amounts of data from millions of websites without wasting any time or effort, ensure the utmost data accuracy, and gain access to structured, easily-readable information in real-time. 

However, when you’re first getting started with web scraping, things can seem complicated and overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you go around anti-scraping technologies and ensure you’re not breaking any laws or regulations? 

If you want to get web scraping right from the start, take a look at some of the best practices you will need to follow when you deploy your bots. 

Use reliable proxy solutions 

First thing’s first, you’ll need to find a reliable proxy service before you’ve even programmed your web scrapers. Without a proxy, you’ll likely find yourself blacklisted or blocked within seconds of launching your bots. 

The thing is, when you’re scraping, your bot makes dozens of information requests per second. This activity is immediately flagged as suspicious by websites as no real user gets through information so quickly. Therefore, the site will recognize your activity as coming from bots and likely restrict your access to ensure that other “real” users don’t experience any unnecessary lag. 

A simple solution such as dedicated datacenter proxies (see here) can help you get around this issue. 

Proxies can provide your bots with fake, rotating IP addresses that prevent websites from learning where your traffic is coming from. Virtually every individual information request your bots make will seem like it’s coming from a different IP address and, therefore, as far as the site can tell, from a different user. 

While web scraping without a proxy is possible at times, if you need speed, efficiency, and data accuracy, you’ll need dedicated datacenter proxies to help you along. 

Don’t harm the websites you’re scraping 

In many instances, web scraping is a perfectly legal process that allows you to gather and analyze almost any type of data – competitor prices, sports betting odds, stock market information, customer reviews, and more. However, even though it’s usually not a “shady practice”, many websites do all in their power to prevent it. Why? 

There’s one main reason – to avoid overloading the servers. 

Every server has limited resources, meaning that there are only so many information requests they can handle. If a site is hosted on servers that can only handle moderate traffic and you start bombarding it with thousands of requests, it can start lagging and become unresponsive for clients and customers who need access to it the most. In this instance, your web scraping is no different than a purposeful distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack

Therefore, you must do everything possible to avoid harming the websites you’re scraping. That can mean limiting the number of requests you make from a single IP, programming a crawl-delay directive, and even waiting to start scraping during the site’s off-peak hours. 

Ensure legal compliance 

As previously mentioned, web scraping is usually a perfectly legal process – the key word being “usually.” It all depends on how you collect data and what types of data you use. 

To avoid potential lawsuits, fines, and negative consequences on your reputation, you need to ensure the utmost legal compliance when web scraping. Some of the things you’ll need to pay attention to include: 

  • Data accessible only through logins – if you need to log in to a website to start web scraping, it is illegal to start gathering any data without explicit permission from the site you’re targeting. Not only will you get blacklisted, but you could also expose yourself to lawsuits. Always ask the site owner for permission before you start scraping data locked behind logins; 
  • Computer fraud and abuse act – as discussed, overloading the site’s servers with your web scraping is no different than a DDoS attack. You can be held responsible and prosecuted in this instance; 
  • Copyright laws – some data and content on websites could be copyrighted. Scraping and using such data could present legal issues, opening you up to a copyright infringement lawsuit; 
  • GDPR compliance – it is illegal to collect and use any personally identifiable information from websites. You will need to ensure that your scraper bots avoid such data at all costs. 

Additionally, pay attention to the website’s terms and conditions. In essence, they are contracts. If you break them, you could face repercussions. 

As long as you stay updated on the laws and ensure the utmost legal compliance, you’ll be able to perform web scraping without a hitch. 

Final thoughts 

Web scraping can initially seem like an overwhelming process with many challenges and obstacles. However, as long as you’re using reliable dedicated datacenter proxies, avoid causing harm to the websites you scrape, and comply with all relevant laws and regulations, you’ll be able to safely and efficiently collect and analyze any type of data you need.