Web scraping: The new normal

In the age of rapid digital information, it’s no secret that businesses must make sense of vast amounts of data to gain a competitive edge in their market. The main takeaway from the recent OxyCon conference showed that web scraping is an ever-growing data collection trend that has yet to scratch the surface of its potential.

Perhaps you haven’t heard about it before, but web scraping is a popular and lawful method for corporations to collect data from public sources and use them to their advantage. If you want your business to thrive, you should consider web scraping and residential proxies.

What is web scraping?

Web scraping, also known as web data extraction and web harvesting, is the process of extracting data from a website. While you can accomplish this manually, it is very time-consuming. Automated web scraping solutions can do the task more quickly and efficiently when projects require retrieved data from hundreds or even thousands of online pages. Web scraping software collects and exports extracted data for further processing, generally into a cloud server or central local database.

There are several different types of web scraping, and while their goals may differ, they all involve extracting some kind of information that is useful to market research. These include: content scraping, contact scraping, price comparison, website change direction, and weather data monitoring. This data has a wide range of applications across many different industries, including insurance, banking, finance, trade, eCommerce, sports, and digital marketing. Data is also utilised to help make decisions, generate leads and sales, manage risks, drive strategies, and develop new products and services.

You may encounter CAPTCHAs when attempting to scrape some websites. This stands for the Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans apart. CAPTHCAs are computer software or systems designed to discern between human and machine input, generally to prevent spam and automated data extraction from websites. Therefore, before scraping a website, it is recommended to look into how to avoid and bypass CAPTCHAs. This is where a residential IP proxy comes in.

How is web scraping connected to residential proxies?

As mentioned above, you may run into issues when attempting to extract data from a site using a web scraping software. This could be because of CAPTCHAs or, although many websites do not have anti-scraping mechanisms, some do block scrapers because they do not believe in open data access. Residential IP proxies can allow you to bypass any restrictions.

When a website detects non-human activity (such as multiple visits within seconds or recurring visit patterns), it stops responding to any connection requests from that IP address. If your IP is blacklisted, you won’t be able to scrape any data because you won’t be able to connect to the server of the targeted website.

A residential IP is an address which is linked to a single owner and location. They are trusted by most sites because of this, allowing you to make a fresh connection each time. Residential IPs also add a layer of security to your data collection activities. By utilising residential IPs in conjunction with IP rotation, it is less likely that you will be blacklisted even if the target website employs an aggressive blocking strategy. You can keep rotating proxies until you have extracted all of the data you require.

The importance of using clean proxies

Using residential proxies is one of the better techniques to obtain a clean IP for data scraping. These proxies will mask your true IP address and make it appear as if the person accessing the website is a legitimate user in whichever area they select.

Residential proxies are real IP addresses issued by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in different locations, whether it is a country or city. Even a bot can appear to be a human accessing the internet through a home ISP, making it difficult for websites to detect scraping activities.

Why you should use residential proxies

Anyone hiding behind a residential proxy will appear to be a person using the internet from their house. However, the person who appears to be based in a house in Spain could actually be a bot running from a California office. Here are a few advantages to using residential proxies while web scraping:

  • Anonymity – This is the primary reason why businesses utilise proxies. Residential IP proxies enable users to access the web anonymously while also adding security and privacy to any activity.
  • Compatibility – Residential proxy providers are aware that many of their customers will be active in data scraping. As a result, there is support for the most popular scraping software and bots on the market.
  • Rotating and static IPs – The ability to request new IPs and have them rotate allows you to remain inconspicuous when scraping data. Concurrent connections may also be used to reduce scraping time and speed up data collection. Static IPs have advantages as well, especially if you wish to keep utilising the same IP address for general purposes.
  • Avoid geo-restrictions – Businesses utilise residential proxies to monitor their advertising campaigns. Ad verification is a key aspect of determining whether a campaign is successful and whether there is a positive ROI. Proxies can let you gain access to geo-restricted websites and content. This aids with ad verification as well as web scraping difficult to obtain data.

Final thoughts

More and more businesses are utilising web scraping to obtain contact information from potential consumers or clients. Paired with residential proxies that provide clean IPs, you can begin to collect data that will help you boost your brand awareness, market research and analysis, and improve SEO.