Business

Tips for Collecting Relevant and Valuable Data

Collecting valuable data online using scraping is very commonplace these days. However, this also means that defenses against scraping are becoming more common. This means that scraping software has had to step up its game to overcome these challenges. Also, how you use your scarper is important as well. Let’s look at some tips that will help you scrap data more efficiently and obtain more relevant data for your business.

1. Don’t Get Blocked

The most common way data collection software is thwarted is by being blocked from a website that realizes it is a machine. In most cases, this is a straight-up IP address block, but there are other forms of blocking, such as shadow blocking and sending fake data to fool your scraper.

When you are shadow-blocked, a website has tricked your scraper into thinking that it still has access when it really doesn’t. If this is the case, you can find out that you have been blocked by reviewing your scraper’s log. But, on the other hand, if you’ve been outright blocked, you will know when a 403 error screen pops up when you try to access the website and tells you that you are forbidden.

There are several ways to avoid getting blocked, but they all come down to making your scarper behave more human-like. For example, rotating your IP address using a proxy will make websites think your scraper is more than one person, while rotating information such as the browser will make its actions appear more natural. Ultimately, if the websites you’re targeting think your scraper is human, it won’t be blocked.

2. Improving Efficiency

The more data you collect, the greater the chance you’ll have of getting data that is actually relevant to your business. One of the best ways to do this is to improve the efficiency of your scraper by reducing its downtime. For example, when your scraper is doing its job, it may only collect data from one website at a time before it moves on to the next one. This is called synchronous scraping.

You can upgrade your scraper to perform asynchronous data collection to overcome wasted time. This means that while it is waiting for a response from one website, it will begin scraping another. This can cause the scraper to use more resources, but it will be worth it in the end since it will spend virtually no time just sitting there waiting for a response. This means more data and more opportunities for valuable scarping.

3. Selecting the Correct Web Page Objects

When a scraper goes through a web page, it will look for objects relevant to the data it collects. However, there can be some issues that arise when doing this. For one thing, if your scarper selects objects using XPATH, it may produce inconsistent results. This is because XPATH engines are different in each browser. 

To overcome this, you can try using a CSS selector. The reason using CSS works is that most applications are made in CSS, which produces more consistent scraping. CSS is also more commonplace, meaning that tweaking your code will be easier.

4. Headless Browsers and Javascript

Javascript is still common online for websites with a minimalist design, posing a problem for your scraper. This is because the data your scraper is trying to get into is rendered by Java, making it inaccessible to normal scripts. Using a headless browser fixes this issue because they have built-in capabilities that can process Javascript.

Alternatively, you could use React crawling to run the codes you need on the website and then recreate it in a headless browser. Just remember that regular libraries don’t work when rendering Javascript.

Valuable Data is Easy to Collect

Even though many anti-scraping methods are available these days, scraping has evolved faster and can overcome them. Understanding these methods will allow you to target better data and collect more data overall. This will produce an increase in the quality of the data you scrap so that it is more valuable to your business.

Ethan More

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