Data extraction offers immense benefits for businesses. It allows you to improve your products, but it helps you generate innovative ideas to grow your customer base.
Nothing is more crucial to your business success than accurate and up-to-date information. While most business owners know this already, the question is, how to extract data from a website? Web scraping is the way to go!
If used well, it can be a lifesaver. Nonetheless, you must know the dos and don’ts of web scraping for an efficient process.
Web Scraping and Its Tremendous Growth
We all love information, and so does your business. Without reliable data at hand, you cannot think of moving forward with your brand.
Data extraction has become a necessity, from running background checks on your clients and workers to gathering data to optimize your marketing game.
Perhaps this explains why companies are readily turning to web scraping for building massive databases and extracting industry-specific insights.
Data harvesting does sound enticing, but it doesn’t remain so when done manually. Long hours of manual work are pretty inconvenient, frustrating, and tedious. Web scraping, however, automates the task, easing the process for you.
Businesses today use it for content scraping, research, price comparison, weather data monitoring, competitive analysis, lead generation, and more.
You can also benefit from it by keeping in mind a few useful tips (more on the topic below.)
5 Tips for a Smooth Web Data Extraction Process
Now that you know how to extract data from a website, it is crucial to understand ways to do it efficiently. Web scraping has its limitations, and you will encounter a few challenges when conducting data extraction.
Nonetheless, a few tips will come in handy and will allow for smooth data extraction.
1. Use Proxies
A few websites may block you during the web scraping process. Typically, you get to know this right away. However, a website may ban you without you even knowing it.
Therefore, you must use reliable proxies to avoid getting blocked.
Rotating proxies alter your IP address and allow a smoother data extraction process. Otherwise, the annoying bans may limit your scraping activities, frustrating you. Make sure you prepare beforehand for a faster web data extraction.
2. Go for Real User Agents
A user-agent refers to any software that acts on behalf of the user. It facilitates user interaction with the worldwide web.
When you visit a particular website, it reads your user agent. The details may include your browser type, its version, and the device you visit the site from.
If you visit the site without a user agent, the website will label you as a bot. The hack is to use a collection of real user agents from prominent web browsers.
Additionally, check you aren’t using old and outdated browser versions – make sure you update them repeatedly.
3. Set Correct Fingerprints
Considering browsing fingerprints is yet another crucial step to smooth data extraction. When you create a virtual visitor, you must set appropriate fingerprints discoverable by the website.
You cannot randomly set the fingerprints; instead, create them cautiously. For instance, you may not be able to run a new browser on an old operating system.
Certain plugins work well with specific browsers, and particular fonts are unique to certain OS.
Make sure you consider these factors before commencing web scraping.
4. Build a Web Crawler
Web crawlers work seamlessly with web scraping API. The bot fetches to the scraping API the URLs to gather information from.
It updates a URL list to crawl and extract the data as it moves. You also have the option to set preferred rules. For instance, what sort of URLs do you like to scrape, and which ones do you want to drop?
You can set the rules and regulations, and the bot will crawl accordingly.
5. Respect the Website Policies
The key to smooth data extraction is to follow ethical means and legal practices. Therefore, you must respect the website you are scraping.
To do so, consider reading the robots.txt file to see which website pages you can scrape and which ones you cannot extract the data from.
You’ll also stumble across information that highlights the frequency you are allowed to scrape a particular website.
Aside from respecting website policies, you shouldn’t ignore its users. Intensive scraping slows down a website, giving a poor experience to the site visitors.
Not considering these rules will eventually get you blocked or may ban your activity permanently.
Perhaps you do not require extensive knowledge to understand how web extraction works. But to perform it more efficiently and make it less bothersome, you must consider the tips discussed above.
With more brands turning to web scraping, accessing valuable information is becoming more challenging. Websites leverage strict policies to limit scraping practices with each passing day.
Therefore, learning the potential data extraction challenges and ways to overcome them is crucial for a smoother web scraping process. If you’re interested in the data extraction process and how to do it properly, we also suggest you check the information in a blog post by Oxylabs.