As data continues to become more important, so do the different ways of acquiring the necessary data in large amounts. Usually, data gathering is done through a process known as web scraping, and while the term denotes a process, the ways it can be achieved are many.
Web scraping is usually done using a group of tools, and some of such tools are scraping bots and proxies. There is more than one way to have these tools, and while some brands usually buy these tools from proxy service providers, others opt for a more complex option of building theirs.
But this second option comes with a myriad of challenges that make it almost unrewarding. Today, we will consider what these challenges are and why proxies are important in accessing data from multiple sources.
Table of Contents
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is an automatic process of collecting a large amount of data from multiple sources at once. The process is mainly automated to remove the monotonicity that regularly collects an enormous quantity of data.
The data, to ensure it is accurate, needs to be collected from multiple sources such as key marketplaces, social media platforms, websites, discussion groups, and so. By accessing these multiple sources, brands can scrape different types of data in vast quantities, which can then be employed in several business aspects. Some of the ways these data can be used include:
- For monitoring both price and competition, which many companies use in enacting strategies that ensure competitive pricing
- For generating accurate leads that form an important ingredient in effective marketing
- For monitoring the assets and reputation of a brand by gathering reviews from different sources and promptly attending to those that stand the chance of damaging the brand’s reputation
- For developing effective strategies such as dynamic pricing, which help brands to set flexible prices that help encourage more sales
- To help perform accurate market analysis that helps a brand become more competitive as well know the correct times to penetrate new markets or create new products
- For helping manufacturers monitor minimum advertised price (MAP) compliance and ensure that all sellers and retailers are playing fair
- For collecting and gathering information about job postings to make job searches easier for both job seekers and recruiters
How Does Web Scraping Work?
The way web scraping works can be broken down into three separate processes:
1. Sending Request and Getting Response
During this process, the scraping bot sends out a request, it gets to the target source, the data is collected in an HTML format, and the response is returned to the client’s computer
2. Extraction and Parsing
This process involves the extraction of the HTML files and their translation into a well-structured format through parsing. By doing this, the data becomes easier to read, understand, and utilize
3. Data Storage
The final process in web scraping involves storing the extracted data in the available database. The data which can be stored in a CSV, JSON, or, Spreadsheet format is usually done to make it easier to be retrieved, analyzed, and put to use
Main Challenges of Building Web Scraping Infrastructures
As earlier described, there are many ways to scrape data, and while some people build and maintain their infrastructures, others usually purchase the tools from reliable proxy service providers (for example, oxylabs.io).
Building your infrastructures come with certain challenges such as:
Lack of Expertise
Building these infrastructures requires a lot of know-how, and in many instances, many companies may lack the team to build a proper functional tool. Scraping tools include bots, APIs, frameworks, and libraries – all the things that require advanced technical knowledge to build
Cost of Maintenance
Aside from building, web scraping infrastructures also require proper maintenance to serve their purpose regularly and unfailingly. This maintenance can cost both money and time
Lack of Resources
Building and maintaining web scraping tools can easily become a highly capital-intensive project as it requires time, energy, manpower, and funds. These resources are not easy to come by, especially by smaller brands
Lack of Storage Capacity
Because the data being collected is usually large, the storage facility also needs to be large. This means that the brand-building of its web scraping tools must also make provisions for large storage capacity, and this can be both expensive and challenging, requiring not just money but also physical space.
Why Proxies Are a Necessary Part of Web Scraping
There are essentially two reasons why proxies are an integral part of web scraping, and they are:
For Accessing Geo-Blocked Content
Proxies are very important for brands that stay in forbidden locations and cannot access certain content on some servers due to geo-blocking technologies. This technology makes it impossible for those brands to reach some websites or scrape data from them. The affected companies mostly have to use Geonode Proxies to block passing Anti-Scraping Measures
Anti-scraping measures target the internet protocol (IP) address of clients, preventing them from further accessing their contents. This usually makes the tasks of web scraping notoriously difficult and can only be overcome using proxies.
In summary, web scraping tools are a crucial need for every brand looking to succeed in today’s highly competitive market. And while a brand can buy those tools from a third-party company, others may want to build and maintain them. However, building these infrastructures is way harder than buying them.
Also, proxies have become an important requirement in web scraping, especially for granting access to restricted content and for bypassing the many anti-scraping measures.
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