How To Avoid Obstacles and Effectively Scale Your Web Scraping Efforts
Many businesses use harvesting or web scraping as a valuable data collection tool. However, there’s a big difference between the requirements for scraping a website once or twice a week and collecting data from thousands of websites every day. If you don’t know how to scale your web scraping attempts as your demands change, you might become a victim of one of the many pitfalls of collecting high volumes of data.
This article will take a closer look at how to scale your web scraping efforts. We’ll also cover proxy pools and monitoring, as web scraping is often empowered by proxies, such as an excellent residential proxy.
What Is Web Scraping – A Summary
Web scraping is an automated data collection technique that collects information from websites, social media pages, search engines, and more. These tools have been specially designed to collect certain requested information from specified websites and then combine the data into a single format where it can be analyzed.
This process provides businesses and individuals with all the information they need to make better business decisions. You can use it to monitor your competitors’ product listings and prices, keep an eye on industry trends, identify investment opportunities or even gain insights into new innovations.
Why Should You Scale Your Web Scraping Efforts
Different businesses have varying needs; therefore, it’s not essential for all companies to scale their web scraping endeavors. If your business only uses web scraping now and again to check if your prices are still competitive, then you may never need to consider scaling your efforts.
However, if your business relies on high volumes of information, you might have to consider scaling your web harvesting efforts. If you notice that your team needs information from hundreds or even thousands of websites daily, you’ll have to scale your attempts to manage this high volume of data.
You may be wondering if there’s even a business that could require this much information – and the answer is yes. A prime example is price aggregator websites. These websites need to constantly collect the latest pricing data from various websites to ensure they show the most accurate prices possible. Another example where scaling your web harvesting efforts would be in the real estate industry. You’ll have to constantly monitor realty prices and ensure yours is the most competitive. This requires collecting a lot of data from other real estate websites.
Obstacles To Scaling Web Scraping Efforts
Whenever you scale any process within a business, there are bound to be some obstacles that need to be overcome. However, being aware of these obstacles before you change your processes will allow you to have solutions to the challenges. Let’s look at some of the most common obstacles you might encounter when scaling your web scraping efforts.
Dynamic Web Structures
Slow Page Loading Speeds
When you scale your web scraping efforts, the chances are that your scraper will have to go through multiple websites to collect all the information you need. The more websites it has to go through, the longer the process will take. This can place immense strain on your computer’s system resources, leading to a slow computer, frequent crashes, or even breaking the entire system.
More and more websites are using anti-scraping technology to keep bots, spam, and scrapers at bay. A few examples of these systems include sign-in pages and CAPTCHAs. Since these require a very specific input, they can cause issues for some web scraping tools.
Data Management And Cleaning
Another obstacle relates to the data itself rather than the collection process. If you’re scaling your web harvesting efforts, the chances are that you’ve probably got a lot of data on your hands and how to manage and store the data. Another consideration is the quality of the data. Never assume that the data you’ve collected is 100% accurate. You’ll need to implement data cleaning and enrichment techniques to improve the quality and use a secure cloud-based storage platform to keep everything together.
How To Scale Web Scraping Efforts Effectively
To scale your web harvesting efforts, you need to be prepared. Preparation is what will make the difference between a smooth and effortless transition and a nightmarish experience with constant blocks, incomplete data, and more. Here are three ways to prepare your business before scaling your scraping processes.
First off, you need to create a traffic profile. Nobody just goes and sends their scraper to collect random information; there’s usually a goal or a plan for the type of data you need. This forms part of your traffic profile, which is basically a planned roadmap of what data you need, where it can be found, and more.
Your traffic profile should include the following:
- What type of data do you need
- The URL of the websites where you can find the data
- Any potential hurdles on those sites, such as CAPTCHAs
- How many requests and how frequently do you want to make them
- Specific timeframes for the requests, such as at night
- Geolocations of the websites so that you can assign the right proxy
The next step is choosing a reliable proxy provider with a large pool of IPs. For web scraping, we always recommend using residential proxies as they are linked to real devices, making them much more difficult to block. When looking at providers of residential proxies, make sure that they also offer some type of management solution.
If you have to manually assist a new IP address to each request, that can become time-consuming, and errors can occur. Make sure that you have a good proxy management plan in place. Some proxy providers include a management tool to make it easier. Alternatively, you can also consider rotating residential proxies, which automatically assign a new IP with each request.
Scaling your web scraping efforts can be essential for businesses that require a lot of data, but it can also come with its own set of obstacles. The best way to overcome these is by having a clear plan in place, making sure you know what data you want, and choosing a high-quality residential proxy with management options.