Are you new to web scraping? Or yet to tap into know the power of scraping yet?
Well, no matter the reason, just keep in your mind that with website scraping, you will have the ultimate power to boost your business. A dream come true for the owners, indeed!
However, as with any other tool, there are some do’s and don’ts that you need to do to get the best out of it. They are as follows:
Do Parse HTML
HTML, short for Hyperlink Text Markup Language, is the building block of the web that holds the power to unlock every kind of valuable data. And by parsing HTML, we are referring to the extraction of the gems, such as, product details, prices, reviews, and so on.
But isn’t parsing HTML complex and frustrating work?
Well, not anymore if you can parse HTML with regex. They are like your golden weapon, with the help of which you can extract any kind of crucial information from a website. From helping you to target specific patterns to plucking them out effectively – they really know how to do their work!
Do Rotate IPs
Imagine this, you are a secret agent trying to pass into a super high-tech lair. Then, certainly, you will not opt for the same disguise, instead will try your level best to hide it. Well, the same goes for the website scraping as well!
Because believe it or not, with every request, you tend to leave a trace behind at some parts of the networking. Doesn’t matter how many times you try to avoid it from your code. This is something you don’t have any kind of control over. And once the server detects the issue, it will take them less than a second to ban your IP.
What to do?
Just rotate your IPs, and you will be all good to change your virtual identity in no time without creating any kind of suspicion. they keep you in a total incognito position, with no any kinds of history traces. You can either use a different IP every few seconds or maybe for every request. That is, with rotating IP addresses, you will be able to prevent the websites from detecting any kind of suspicious high traffic incoming from a single source. Besides, by frequently changing the IPs, you will look more authentic. Ultimately helping you to move under the radar and collect all the required information smoothly and effectively.
Do Use Custom User-Agent
Websites are always on the hunt to detect automated scrapers. No wonder we have to solve so many CAPTCHAs or get blocked from accessing any websites.
This is where the user agent comes to the roleplay!
User-agent are those website’s calling cards that you basically use when you need to interact with other kinds of websites. From helping you to blend into and maintain your individuality – they play quite a big role in improving your chances of scraping the data without getting blocked. Plus, by crafting a personalized user agent, you will be signaling to the website that you are a genuine browser, not just any automated script. A great way indeed to boost efficiency in your business!
Do Research Target Content
Moving on, we have the research target content. They are an extremely important aspect of web scraping. Whether it be the insights of your competitors, market trends, or maybe the customer reviews – pre-scarping will help you to refine your strategy, making sure you hit the right piece of information. Much like setting the route to the pathway. However, researching the target contents is not only about finding the “what”; it also consists of the “how”.
For instance, exposing the data through the rich snippets using Schema.org JSON or maybe itemprop data attributes is one of the most standard ways to do so. Plus, you can also go for the hidden inputs, like IDs, categories, etc. as well.
Another easier tactic is to browse the website with the DevTools and thus check on both the HTML and Network Tab. This will give you a clear vision, based on which you can extract the data much faster.
Do Parallelize Requests
Parallelize requests are kind of like giving your scraping engine a different kind of boost up, ultimately leaving all your competitors in complete dust.That is, with the help of these types of requests, you can scrape tons of websites all at once, like a speeding racer car zooming all the way down the information highway. Talk about a business turbocharger!
However, while conducting these requests, you must be a bit mindful. Otherwise, too many requests at a time can draw some suspicious activity. Therefore, keep it balanced and smooth as much as possible to make your ultimate pathway to a huge data-driven success.
Now, let’s meet the two main things that you will require for a successful parallelization request:
Concurrency is basically having multiple tasks running in motion all at a time. That is, instead of waiting for one request to finish before initiating another, you are handling several tasks at once. Eventually, minimizing the waiting time.
A queue helps you to manage the requests flow in such a way that the server doesn’t even get a hint of what you are doing. In other words, they make sure the server isn’t feeling overwhelmed as everything you are sending goes in an orderly fashion. As a result, along with keeping the server all happy, you are also avoiding the chances of crashing your scraping that may occur due to excessive traffic.
Don’t Use Headless Browsers for Everything
Without any second doubt, headless browsers are incredible when it comes to scraping dynamic content. After all, they work behind the scenes with total pure data extraction.
However, not everything on the web needs such kind of expertise. As a result, overusing them is not a good practice, and one should avoid it as much as possible. For example, if you require a handful of data points, say from a simple web page, then you certainly don’t require a headless browser. In fact, using them can slow down your overall procedure.
So, the moral of the story is to opt for simple tools, like HTTP requests, whenever possible and keep the bigger thing for the complex works.
Don’t Couple Code to Target
While doing your scraping code, make sure not to create a love story in between the code and the particular target site. Otherwise, it may turn into a total nightmare. Why, you ask?
Websites are like those changing fashion trends that can modify themselves at a much faster rate than you can say the word “scraping.”
Apart from the jokes, if you feel like your code is too close to another website’s structure, then any kind of change in the layout of that website can create havoc in your code. Hence, try to use CSS selectors, URL structure, DDBB structure, and XPath expressions; you must target data elements, not the structure. This way, your code will be able to adapt to any changes whenever needed, with complete ease.
Don’t Take Down Your Target Site
Always remember, overloading and aggressive scraping can strain the servers, slowing down the website or, in a worse case, may even crash it. After all, while scraping, you are not only collecting data. But at the same time, sending a flurry of requests to the website’s server. Though you can crawl hundred of pages concurrently at some sites, like Amazon, there are several other websites that run on a single shared machine with poor specifications.
So, if you go full-on Hulk mode, you will unintentionally be sending an excessive number of requests in a short span of time. This can complicate the code or may trigger the alarms of the websites, owing to which they might think you are nothing but an aggressive bot. Therefore, make sure to use proper techniques, such as adding delays in between the requests, unless you want to go all overboard.
Don’t Mix Headers from Different Browsers
Every browser has its own distinctive way of introducing itself, varying from one version to another. And in case you start combining the headers from Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc., then certainly the server you are aiming for might get all confused. And raise some red flags when sending to the wrong ones.
Hence, stick to a single browser identity. For example, if you are going with Chrome, then stick to its particular headers. The same goes for Firefox and the rest as well.
Now that you know what the do’s and don’ts of website scraping are, it’s high time that you transform the way your business operates. After all, in this super-fast digital world, data is the new gold, and website scraping is the ultimate key to this massive treasure hunt. The more you can effectively handle it, the more powerful your business will be – taking to newer heights of success. Happy Scarping!