As the years go by, the business arena is becoming more competitive. Every business is looking for innovative methods and technology to gain an edge over its competitors or companies in their respective niches. One of the best ways to attain this advantage is by web scraping websites for structured online data with a good web scraper such as Bright data web scraper. Ultimately, websites are data mines from which businesses can learn about each other’s operations and processes.
Also known as web scraping or web extraction, data scraping is probably the best and most legal way to access online data. Web data provides much information and insight into different niches and fields. Customer preferences and competitor activities are some of the areas that a business can use to gain ground and top their niches. As a result, it is no surprise to see many businesses opting for data scraping as a strategy to thrive in the increasingly competitive market.
However, while data scraping is becoming a tried-and-tested strategy, this technology method is not without its flaws and challenges. As a result, businesses need to know the technology challenges to keep in mind when data scraping. This article highlights some technology challenges to keep in mind.
What Is Data Scraping?
Data scraping refers to mining data from specific web pages and online platforms for numerous purposes. This is a common choice when the API of the website that has the required data does not have an accessible API. The procedure usually entails the tool requesting HTTP access to a server. It then proceeds to download the page’s HTML and parses it to extract the needed data.
Some objectives of data scraping include:
- Indexing web pages for search engines.
- Gathering data for competitor analysis or market research.
- Extracting data for machine learning training models
Scraping is an excellent alternative to manual, laborious human data input. While numerous online scraping applications exist today, one of the best options is to get a web scraper fully customized for your business (or personal) needs.
Technology Challenges Businesses Face When Using Data Scrapers
Here are some technology challenges businesses encounter when using data scrapers:
Website Structure Changes
This is why certain companies outsource their data to web scraper companies capable of handling webpage structure changes. Dedicated web scraping companies will maintain and update their bots and deliver the required data when needed.
Honeypots refer to systems designed to bait hackers and prevent them from getting sensitive and confidential content from that website. For alternative data scraping, honeypot traps could be implemented to monitor and prevent data scrapers from gaining access to the website or platform and collecting data.
While honeypot traps are tools to protect against data scrapers, they can also be challenging to businesses whose job is to carry out legitimate data collection activities. If in the process of data scraping and the honeypot trap is triggered, the IP address of the company trying to access valuable data could be blocked, leading to a huge loss of insight and potential competitive loss and disadvantage. As a result, companies need to be careful when data scraping to avoid triggering the honeypot traps.
Website scraping access
When web scraping, the first thing to tick off your activity list is to check if the target website allows you to scrape. Websites can decide to allow or prevent this feature. Most websites usually allow it in the form of automated web crawling, but others do not. Going ahead to scrape websites that do not allow scraping can lead to a loss of accessing relevant information and gaining a competitive edge. The best option here is to get a competitor website that offers information related to what you need.
Captcha is an excellent option for protecting a website, and it’s also used to prevent accessibility issues for web scraping bots and scrapers. Captcha requires users to complete a task, such as typing in distorted numbers or letters or matching pictures. This is because Captcha rejects all kinds of bots, positive and negative.
To combat this, you may have to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning methods into your bots or hire human workers to help complete the captchas. This will help you solve this issue and continue to provide you with continuous data for analysis. However, this slows down the scraping process and gets you unstructured data, which is more difficult to understand and use.
IP clocking occurs when a server identifies an unusually high amount of requests coming from a single IP address. This also happens when a web scraper bot makes several parallel requests to access that website. Some IP blockers are designed to block IPs from accessing the website even when the bot adheres to the legal way of web scraping. This makes it challenging for data scrapers to collect data from a website using a single IP address.
Bot designers can overcome this by using private proxies to send requests from a new IP address after each login.
Getting real-time data
Extracting data in real-time is vital as many businesses use this type of web data. An example of real-time data is e-commerce product price trends, where data changes in seconds. Scraping data from websites like this can be challenging for scrapers as it might lead to delivering the wrong data by the time of delivery.
Hence, to get accurate real-time data, partner with a web scraping company that offers ultra-fast live scraping or scrawling to collect real-time data as soon as it is available.
As technology improves, websites become more interactive and easy to use. This is enabled by the websites having dynamic coding and is done to provide customized experiences to all users. This, however, does not help web crawling bots, as websites of this nature typically possess infinite scrolling and slow-loading images and do not support web scraping bots as a result.
There are many challenges to remember when data scraping on the internet, especially for massive data volumes from several websites with multiple use cases. As a result, opting for an experienced and proven data service provider is the best and most economical option.
Bright Data offers complete web scraping options to get your required data no matter the circumstances.