Every modern business owner has become aware of proxies and web scraping. They are also aware of the connection between these technologies and the array of benefits they can provide for both regular internet users and business organizations.
In the digital age, data is currency.
Therefore, having safe, secure, and reliable access to up-to-date, accurate data has become paramount for driving business growth. The outbreak of COVID-19 forced modern companies to embrace the perks of digital transformation and remote workforce, reshaping the realm of digital business.
In this new business landscape, gathering data on competitors, markets, consumers, and technologies has become a new industry standard of business operations. Since web scraping is now one of the most effective ways to extract top-class data from the web, an army of enterprises quickly became interested in the best ways to scrape the data they need.
That is where proxies come into play. Let’s discuss the importance of proxies for web scraping and the key things to keep in mind when choosing the right type of proxy for your web scraping needs.
Definition of proxies
Proxies are best explained as intermediaries or gateways between the internet and an internet user. When a user sends a request to view content on the web, a proxy reroutes that request through its server, hiding the user’s IP address and location in the process and providing them with the requested results.
Proxies allow regular internet users to browse the web anonymously by preventing third parties from monitoring and tracking their online activities. They also help businesses enable a safe and secure flow of data between multiple protocols and improve the security and privacy of their internet traffic flows.
More importantly, proxies also help businesses to identify top-rated websites for data scraping and extract valuable information that can help them achieve many different goals, from beating competitors to improving customer satisfaction.
Why are proxies essential for web scraping?
Proxies provide numerous benefits for companies, but market research and web scraping are the two most important ones. Their primary properties include faster data retrieval, better user experience, increased anonymity online, and increased security of data and IP addresses.
Since proxies come with pools of IP addresses, they are perfect tools for bypassing IP bans and anti-scraping mechanisms that top-rated websites use. Proxies can access geo-restricted content in any location on the planet.
Since they can hide the user’s actual location and mask their IP, they can bypass any restrictions and provide access to the desired content. Most modern websites can detect multiple requests coming from the same IP, which is the most common case with web scraping, and block those requests, rendering scraping impossible.
However, proxies can bypass detection and send multiple requests by masking them as legit, ordinary traffic, allowing access to otherwise inaccessible data. Proxies enable digital businesses to gather data from multiple sources without any disturbances that they can use for a variety of purposes:
- Improved SEO;
- Strategic concerns;
- Price comparison;
- Market research;
- Lead generation and customer retention;
- Insightful consumer and competitor analysis;
- Brand protection, management, and reputation;
- Improved decision-making;
- Increased sales;
- More-targeted advertising and marketing;
- Advanced data management;
- Reduced workload;
- Reliability and consistency.
Without web scraping, businesses wouldn’t be able to gather priceless data that is critical to achieving their goals, including saving time, effort, and resources on acquiring data.
How to choose the right proxy for scraping
When it comes to choosing the suitable proxy for scraping, it all comes down to selecting a solution with the best features for your specific needs. There are many different types of proxies, each being unique with unique features.
Here is a comprehensive list of the best features your proxy should have for safe and secure web scraping operations on any scale:
- Identify bans – your proxy solution should be able to bypass blocking mechanisms and handle any underlying problems, such as ghosting, blocks, redirects, captchas, etc.
- Retry errors – in case any problems arise with the current proxy you’re using, your solution should provide an option to retry your request using a different server to establish a safe connection.
- Control proxies – modern websites use various authentication methods to allow users to keep the ongoing session with the same IP; otherwise, the user will be required to authenticate the request each time a change occurs in a proxy server.
- Adding delays – proxies can improve your internet connection speed by preventing IPS throttling and randomizing delays, rendering it impossible for websites to detect your scraping operation.
- Geo-location – the larger the proxy pool of IPs, the easier it is to scrape data from websites, regardless of where they are located. The number of servers scattered across different locations matters too.
- Proxy continuity – it is mandatory to be able to configure your proxy pool to maintain sessions using the same proxies for sending multiple web crawling requests.
- Anti-fingerprinting features – websites detect scraping bots by tracking their online behavior. Therefore, you’ll need a proxy that can randomize the tracked metrics to avoid being detected.
- Proxy rotation – proxies can rotate their IP pool to manage multiple IP addresses for web scraping purposes to ensure your scraper remains undetected.
- Increased security – a SOCKS5 proxy has features that can help hide your IP address, support non-web services such as Skype, Usenet, FTP, Tor, and ICQ, provide increased anonymity online, and protect your requests for DNS and data traffic, etc.
The larger the proxy pool and the more features a proxy has, the more efficient and successful a web scraping session, as simple as that.
Proxies are crucial to ensuring a successful web scraping session when you need it the most. Without proxies, web scraping would be virtually impossible. When choosing the best proxies for web scraping, make sure that a proxy you choose comes with all the necessary features you need to extract accurate, filtered, and structured data from target websites.