Friday, June 14, 2024

Scraping at the Next Level: The Role of Proxies in Data Collection

Call it web scraping, data collection, or information harvesting, businesses small and large use it for a variety of reasons. Data scraping gets a bad name because it has the potential to be used for negative purposes such as spamming, but it can be used legitimately too for market research for instance.

Scraping data can be hugely time-consuming and slow, especially when it is done manually. This method is ineffective and costly, to say the least. Therefore, automated tools and lines of code are used to scrape the necessary information from websites instead of copying and pasting manually.

However, there is a problem here; no website owner wants their data collected, analysed, or re-used for good reason. 

Why use proxies for data collection?

Because website owners don’t want you to scrape their product list and pricing data, or their email marketing lists, they monitor suspicious activity. This invariably leads to IP addresses being blocked.

To avoid this, data collection proxies can be used to bypass blacklists or limitations on website access. Fingerprinting is used to detect the activity of users accessing websites, and this can, along with other monitoring techniques, lead to IP addresses being blocked. When this happens, it becomes impossible to continue accessing the website from that particular IP address.

Blacklisting and blocking happen for many reasons, and some are quite arbitrary. Russia has made a habit of blocking millions of IP addresses in a scattergun approach to censoring websites.

If someone wants to scrape data and bypass restrictions, then a proxy can help by masking the real IP address and providing multiple new ones.

How do you take your scraping to the next level?

The best way to scrape with no detection is to use residential or mobile proxies. When you use data centre proxies you will be using IP addresses provided by the vendor. These can be recognized and traced far easier than any residential proxy can.

Constant blocking of IP addresses will hamper your data scraping program, so to take it to the next level you need undetectable rotating residential proxies. And when you can set these to specific geographical regions you can access geo-restricted content for market research.

For example, USA proxies for scraping will let you see the website that is specific for that market, even when you are based overseas. This is very useful for anyone involved in ecommerce or someone wanting to see their SERP results in the US.

How do proxies help with data collection?

Proxies help by allowing the scraper to hide their location and real IP address. Then, the scraper can. with the right tools, scrape thousands of websites all at once.

While scraping isn’t technically legal, it isn’t popular with the owners of websites either, even though many of them will be indulging in data collection themselves, For example, Meta was hit with a huge fine of $275 million for a data-scraping breach.

When you have a reliable proxy server in place, you can then collect data to help with the following areas:

  • Market research
  • Content scraping
  • Email marketing lists
  • Pricing data
  • Lead generation
  • SEO

You can use a proxy to help you find out how your competitors are pricing their products, and understand best practices across your particular sector. Lead generation can be assisted through the scraping of email lists also.

Do proxies negate the risks of scraping?

There are no real legal risks from scraping, but there are still laws to consider. If you are data scraping, then you aren’t actually breaking the law according to several cases that have been dismissed. But, what you do with the data you scrape is another matter.

Businesses need to protect data from breaches, and a reverse proxy can help with DDoS attacks, and add an extra layer of security. Forward proxies can aid with data scraping projects, and as long as these are done with no ill intentions then you should be ok.

However, stealing and re-using content is not only unethical, but it could break copyright laws, and this can result in legal actions which may not just be financially damaging, but your reputation can tank too. As can your search engine rankings as your content is flagged as plagiarised.

How important are proxies going to be for data collection in 2023?

Residential proxies are going to be of great importance this year as data collection and analysis takes on a bigger role in staying ahead of the competition. And residential or mobile proxies are the only way of moving to the next level and collecting information without being blocked.

There are indeed many interesting uses of VPNs, and they can be used to scrape data as well as increase security, but they can be detected, and their use is limited.

Using rotating residential proxies is the most logical way to take scraping forward, as long as they are used ethically.

Summary

All proxies can provide IP addresses so that you can switch your geographical location, and they will mask your real address also. However, data centre proxies are far easier to spot, and many subnetworks are already on certain websites’ blacklists.

Thus, it leads to residential and mobile proxies for any business that is serious about data collection through scraping. Your business can gain greater insights through data scraping than through other forms of information collection, and it can be automated to save time and cash.

Claire James
Claire Jameshttp://www.firedigitaluk.com
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

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