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the basics of web scraping

The Basics Of Web Scraping

by Martha Simmonds

Communication, conveyance of ideas, and data transmission are synonymous terms that well describe the journey of how the constant desire for efficient exchange of information gave birth to the science of telecommunications. With stagnant years of slow progress up until the XIX century, the effectiveness of shared knowledge was dependent on the speed of movement and containment of information in written and printed sources.

Finally, we observe the first major breakthroughs in long-distance communication, the invention of the telegraph and the telephone in the XIX century, and the phenomenon of radio and television in the XX century.

While it is crazy to imagine how fast information technologies have exploded into the scene, the ability to connect to the internet is, without a doubt, one of the biggest inventions in the history of humanity. Because of the web, as well as the software and hardware that surrounds it, we can exchange a lifetime’s worth of information in a matter of seconds to the other edge of the world.

With a collective effort, the brightest minds and engineers have created the most extraordinary tools for rapid data transmission and storage. Fast forward to today, we have hubs of information that give all the answers to any question with just a few clicks. Search engines give us access to more information than it is possible to process. This presents a new problem, where we have so much knowledge that it becomes impossible to use.

Thankfully, when there is a modern problem, we come up with a modern solution – data scraping. Instead of manually visiting and extracting information from every website and search result, web scrapers can be automated to retrieve and organize information from desired pages.

In this article, we will overview the process of data scraping and the ways it can benefit your browsing experience. We will also go over the problems that stop automated data collection from reaching its full potential and present the most effective solutions.

For example, web scrapers cannot function with one IP address, especially if the consequences of getting banned are too grave. To counter that, we will talk about proxy servers and the availability of servers in different locations.

For example, if you want to collect information from a geo-restricted website in Japan, you will need a Japan proxy to unblock the page. With a Japan proxy, you can also see how different the local internet is and how changes affect your search engine results. Keep reading to learn more about Japan proxy, or the proxy servers in general, and their role in web scraping.

Step one: web scraping

Data scraping tools usually have two parts, but sometimes they can be separated. Still, the process starts with web scraping, an automated download of an HTML code from targeted websites. Writing a script for this section is easy and requires very little programming knowledge. You can recreate this functionality with a quick python script, with plenty of examples available online.

Step two: data parsing

Once the retrieved HTML code is already on your device, a parser performs a sequence of tasks that removes tagging and organizes information into an understandable format. Parsers can also use filtering to eliminate and organize the information by the desired criteria.

A good example would be data collection from competitor retailers that sell similar products and the desired end result – a constantly updated data sheet with prices and even logging of changes in pricing once they occur.

What we described above is a rough example of competitor price monitoring. Continuous data extraction tasks are great for gathering price intelligence, especially in highly sensitive markets.

Web scraping challenges

While there are plenty of websites that do not oppose web scraping and are great practice targets for first attempts, the game becomes much more different once we focus on highly functional market competitors. Because they probably use web scrapers themselves, these companies also utilize protections against data aggregation.

If you want to collect all the data from the competitor’s website, or worse, continuously scrape their website, these constant checkups generate a lot more connection requests than the average organic website visitor. Web server owners can quickly recognize the suspicious connection and ban your IP address. Not only will this stop you from visiting the website again but giving up your network identity to a competitor is always a big risk.

Residential proxies

Thankfully, we have residential proxies to save the day. With a Japan proxy or a server from any location around the world, you can route web scraper connections through the proxy IP. If everything is going smoothly, you can start adding more web scraping bots protected by additional IP addresses.

Residential proxy IPs come from devices serviced by real internet service providers, which means your scraping connections will blend in with the regular web traffic. Even more, if you collect information from one source, use a rotation option to swap the scraper’s IP address at predetermined time intervals.

Web scraping is an essential part of modern business activities, and residential proxies provide perfect backup to guard these connections and avoid IP bans.

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