Websites are fantastic repositories of knowledge, which offer free information to anyone that can access it. There are petabytes of data held in these online libraries and are set to rise as more people and companies go digital.
Devices, businesses, and people are continually churning massive amounts of data into the webosphere. This enormous amount of data represents endless business capabilities for data-driven market leaders.
Many businesses today have, therefore, set up data analytics departments to enable them to benefit from data-driven insights in decision making. Web scraping is central to mass data collection and analysis online.
What is web scraping?
Web scraping is also referred to as web harvesting or web data extraction. The process is used to extract massive amounts of online data from various web resources. The data obtained is analyzed and saved into an easy to use format, such as a spreadsheet. Think of web scraping as an automated copy and paste function.
The use of bots saves on manual labor and increasingly speeds up the data collection process. Since data is critical to the success of various business objectives, such as competitor research, many websites are designed to block the activity of data scrapers.
Poorly designed web-scraping solutions could also slow down a website’s infrastructure. Web scraping is, therefore, not as easy as it should be. To prevent IP address blocks, flagging, or banning, scrapers use residential proxies to hide IP address identity.
What is a residential proxy?
There are two main types of proxies: Residential and data center proxy servers. The latter is the most common of both proxies. Data center proxies are given away free or sold by cloud-hosted providers.
They are easy to access and very affordable. These proxies are not actual IP addresses but a combination of numbers. They can be detected by a keen web administrator when utilized in web scraping.
Internet service providers sell residential proxies. They, therefore, are valid IP addresses. If you use them in web scraping, their activities will look like ordinary surfing activity. You nevertheless must employ a pool of rotational residential proxies to ensure that your actions do not raise any red flags. Rapid and continuous access to a website by one IP address is a sure sign of web scraping.
How residential proxies work
Using residential proxies, you can choose any geographic location that you would like your IP address to show. Your web activity will, consequently, resemble that of a user in your preferred location. How does the residential proxy do this?
Proxy servers act as intermediaries between a browser, gadget or server, and the internet. Let’s say you have a proxy server connected to your browser. All your communication to and from the internet will be channeled by and via the proxy. This act ensures that your IP address is concealed, giving you the much-needed anonymity for web scraping. If you would like to learn more about residential proxies, I’ve found this great oxylabs article on them, enjoy!
Factors to keep in mind when purchasing residential proxies
Residential proxies are expensive. Before purchase, take the time to research and compare prices. Ensure that you buy your proxies from industry-recognized providers.
If you need a residential proxy for small-scale use, then cheaper data center proxies can do. If you, however, want the ultimate large scale, web-scraping solution, use rotational pools of residential proxies. These proxies also offer robust security features than public data center proxies.
Always ensure that the proxy you are paying for is free. And has not been misused and blocked elsewhere. Verify before making your payments.
The many applications of web scraping
A business requires web scraping to help it to perform extensive industry research. It also aids in assessing other factors such as financial and technological risks and strengths, industry opportunities, and threats as well as benchmarking. The data garnered from web scraping can create actionable insight that can form the backbone of a winning business strategy.
- Competitor analysis
Web scraping can give your business access to a competitive advantage by analyzing potential, direct, or indirect competitor data. By web scraping and analyzing different information from their websites and other marketing materials, you can identify their winning strategies. Such information is vital when creating competitive pricing, sales, product development, and marketing strategies.
Best SEO practices can boost web traffic making your business competitive online. Web scraping can inform your SEO strategy by highlighting descriptions, titles, links, or keywords that are dominating searches within your sector.
- Brand protection
The strong reputation of a brand can quickly lose their influence online when malicious actors sway public opinion. You can use web scraping to identify any damaging online mentions so that you can effectively deal with them before they can escalate. You can also web scrape to locate any online sources that are infringing on your brand’s identity or those that sell counterfeit products.
Identifying target audiences
Businesses that are in the process of initiating niche advertising or marketing campaigns need first to locate their target audience. Web scraping tools can identify niche customer touchpoints. They can also profile sentiment, demand, and social media data so that you can understand what features your niche audience is looking for.
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Businesses that are development-oriented need web scraping to keep abreast of industry and competitor events. Use the best residential proxies to aid your web scraping services to ensure efficient data collection.