Using web scraping to collect data has become a widespread practice for many businesses. With more information at their disposal, business owners can make better decisions, improve product offerings, beat out competitors, and more. However, a crucial part of the web harvesting process is pairing your scraper with a reliable proxy. Why is that though, and is it really that important?
In this article, we’ll give brief descriptions of both web scraping and proxies. Then we’ll look at how proxies can change your IP address and why that’s important in the process of harvesting data. We’ll also explain why a residential rotating proxy, such as those provided by Smartproxy, works particularly well with web harvesting.
- Quickly defining web scraping and proxies
- Why should you use a proxy for web scraping?
- What are the best proxies to use for web scraping?
Quickly Defining Web Scraping And Proxies
You’ve probably already come across both terms and might already know what web scraping and a proxy is. Here is a quick refresher:
Web scraping is the process of automatically collecting vast amounts of public data from websites, search engines, and other online sources. Web harvesting tools can collect the information you request from specific sources and compile it in a single format of your choice, such as a spreadsheet, to be analyzed and interpreted.
Proxy servers act as intermediaries between the user and the internet. Instead of your request, along with your IP and other personal details, going directly to the website server, it goes to the proxy first. The proxy then hides your IP behind one from its pool. A proxy is a great way to add security and anonymity to your online browsing, and it enables you to access geo-restricted content and avoid IP bans.
Why Should You Use A Proxy For Web Scraping?
Although you can use web harvesting too without a proxy, it’s not recommended to do so, especially not for business. When you’re collecting large amounts of data, you need a stable connection and a way to make multiple requests without being banned from the site. If you use a scraping tool without a proxy, the website may be overwhelmed with the requests from your IP and can place an IP ban restricting you from accessing the site. This leads to incomplete and inaccurate data. However, when you use a proxy that allows you to choose from multiple parallel IPs, each request can be linked to a new IP which will keep you from getting banned and will boost your scraping speed.
Many proxy providers also give you the opportunity to select IPs across the world and from different countries. This makes it possible for you to scrape geo-restricted content as you simply choose an IP from the country you wish to access. So if you’re considering expanding your business to other countries but need to do some local market research to see if it’s a viable option, you can use an IP from your proxy provider in that country. This will allow you to access restricted data and see what the locals see, even if you’re on the other side of the world.
Advantages Of Using A Proxy For Web Scraping
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using a proxy for web scraping:
- Allow you to scrape data anonymously
- Prevents IP bans
- Access location-specific data
- Allows you to scrape large volumes of data
- It makes your scraper work optimally
What Are The Best Proxies To Use For Web Scraping?
There are many different types of proxies: residential, data center, mobile, and public, and these can be further specialized. However, when it comes to web harvesting, one of the best types to use will be a residential rotating proxy. Unlike other proxies, a residential one is linked to an actual device. This means when you use the IP address, it will look like a real user accessing the website, and it won’t get banned.
The added feature of this type of rotating proxy also means that the IP address will automatically change with each new request. This is very convenient and speeds up IP changing as you don’t have to manually set a new IP for each request. By using a residential rotating proxy, you get all the benefits of a residential proxy, along with the convenience of automatically rotating your IP.
A rotating residential proxy can make a big difference to your web scraping efforts. It will allow you to scale your efforts and collect high volumes of data without fearing a ban, block, or geo-restrictions. This means you’ll be able to collect higher-quality data to help your business, than if you were only using a web scraper without a reliable proxy.