Optimizing Web Scraping: 5 Pro Techniques

Optimizing Web Scraping: 5 Pro Techniques
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In the virtual world, we are always looking for innovative ways to improve our appearance online, and web scraping is one of them.

You may already know the benefits of web scraping. However, when extracting data from websites, you may encounter various barriers and problems that can either slow or completely shut down the process.

If you have experienced some issues or want to avoid them in the future, we are here to help. We will present some of the most common problems you can encounter while scraping and how to solve or avoid them. Let’s see how you can optimize your web scraping experience.

What is web scraping?

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from online websites. You can use it for various purposes; people in the online business world use it to improve their internet reputation.

You can collect website data in its HTML form and use it for comparative analysis. Moreover, you can use scrapers to extract specific data, such as the prices on a website and marketing strategies.

Although a web scraper is an excellent tool, only some things go according to plan. Web scrapers can face various problems, as you will see below. Knowing how to approach these problems and solve them effectively is crucial.

IP address banning

When accessing a website and scraping data from your original IP address, the target server may detect that you frequently visit the same website with the same intention. It will see and block your IP address, preventing you from entering the website again. The server may consider you a threat if you make multiple HTTP requests from one location.

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When web scraping, you can send requests from various virtual locations so that no one will consider you a threat. For instance, you can use a Brazil proxy server. As a result, Brazil proxy will successfully hide your IP address or alternate between multiple addresses.

Honeypot links

Honeypot links are not visible to the bare eye. These hidden links aim to catch people who want to extract data from their websites. Many websites use honeypots to keep their sensitive information private, away from those who collect data. Regular internet users cannot see these links, so you must be careful during web scraping.

When scraping and collecting data, pay attention to these invisible links. You will detect them by seeing their color (in most cases).

Web developers use the color “none” in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which blends with the surroundings, and only people who extract data can see them. Thus, if you see a link, don’t click on it before checking whether it is visible on the website.

Slow scraping

Web scraping is not time-consuming, and it won’t take hours to collect the data you need. If the scraping is slower than usual, you might face an issue.

Usually, the slow loading speeds are a result of high traffic on the website you are visiting. Many people may be using the website and sending requests (while also creating new data) while you are extracting data.

To avoid slow web scraping, you can choose when to extract data. Many websites have their peak hours when they are the most crowded. You want to avoid high traffic when scraping, so see when the website has minimum traffic. Choosing the perfect time will make the process flow smoothly and quickly.

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HTML changes

Every website changes its structure every once in a while. It may be a simple change, such as adding a new picture, or a more complex change, such as the user interface or the content. These changes use HTML closely related to web scraping; you extract data in their HTML forms.

To avoid this problem, you should regularly maintain your scraper. Whatever the change on the website, it may influence the correctness of the data you are extracting.

You can test the website before you scrape to see whether there are any novelties in its HTML structure. Moreover, you can use headless browsers to avoid HTML changes regarding media and GUI (Graphical User Interface).

CAPTCHA blocking

A CAPTCHA can block your access if you use a web scraper. Since the activity on the website won’t appear as human behavior, a CAPTCHA may recognize your scraper and reject its requests. Since this technology is advancing rapidly, a CAPTCHA can detect all suspicious behavior.

Although this issue is a bit more complex to avoid, you can find CAPTCHA solvers that will grant you access to any website you want. You can set up your solver and adjust it to the website you want to visit.

This step will require additional software to solve CAPTCHA tests. However, it is essential to consider these tests as they can represent a significant problem when scraping; investing in a quality solver is always a good idea.

Conclusion

Web scraping can be beneficial for many industries and personal use. If you are considering extracting data on the internet, you first need to learn about some troubles that may come your way.

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Now that you know the most common issues you can encounter and how to solve them, you can always be one step ahead and think in advance to avoid these problems.

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