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Using HTTP Headers When Web Scraping

Using HTTP Headers When Web Scraping

By: SMITH THOMPSON

Web scraping is a common method used by businesses to keep a close eye on their competitors. But most competitors do the same thing to monitor you, but they also use everything they can to prevent you from monitoring their actions.

There are all kinds of methods to block you from accessing their website and digging for information. When they figure out which IP address belongs to a competitor, they block it to prevent further information leaks. That’s where the headers jump into play. They allow you to monitor competitors even if your IP gets blocked.

What’s The Process of Web Scraping?

Web scraping is also known as web data extraction and web harvesting. It’s a technique that can quickly extract tons of data from multiple websites. The data extracted is then saved to your hard drive or in a spreadsheet table.

Once you have collected the data you need, you can open it in any web browser. You have to copy and paste each line of the data to access it, but web scraping software does it instead of you and allows you to process large amounts of data quickly.

During the scraping process, you first have to specify the type of information you want to extract. Once the scraper has gathered all of the data, it’s extracted to your HDD. Finally, you will get access to all extracted data, and through this, web scraping software will help you find out details you can use to improve your website or business offer.

What are the Challenges?

Naturally, website owners use all kinds of methods to prevent web scraping and keep their data far away from prying eyes. Over the years, many different methods were used to make web scraping much harder. From various blocking mechanisms to the use of bots, web scraping comes with all kinds of challenges designed to make things harder. Here’s a list of the things you can expect to run into while digging for information:

Bot access – If the website owner uses blocking bots, you will have to ask permission to scrape data.

Complicated web page structures – Some websites are built using complicated page structures, making it harder for web scraping software to access the data.

IP blocking – Whenever a website detects multiple requests from the same IP address, it can block the IP completely and prevent you from accessing the site.

CAPTCHA – The process of proving that you are a human is one of the most common methods of preventing web scraping.

Honeypot traps – Honeypot is a type of trap designed to catch web scrapers and directly influence the data it extracts.

Dynamic content – If websites use AJAX to update their dynamic web content, making it harder for most web scrapers to extract any data.

Real-time data scraping – As competitors make changes to their websites, you need to monitor their actions at all times. But since web scraping has a delay, the information you extract may be too old or outdated.

How HTTP Headers Can Help Overcome Them

Every time you send a request to a server during the web scraping process, you provide it with information that can be used to block you from extracting data. You will leave details about things like encoding and the language you are using, as well as the type of data you’re looking for, your location, and so on. All of these pieces of information are called headers. In other words, the information a server needs to send the right data are called headers.

Since bots run web scraping software, they can send the wrong types of headers that could completely lock them out of the website. That’s why you need to write a scraping program based on headers used by regular website visitors. The idea is to make your requests look human, allowing you to slip under the radar. Http header referer is one of the most popular tools designed to help you find a workaround for many different blocks. You can find more information about HTTP headers on the Oxylabs website.

Why You Should Do Web Scraping

Web scraping is a powerful tool that can be used to extract valuable information from competitors and use it to improve your own offer. With the right setup, you can extract all kinds of information to give you an edge over your competitors. Here’s a quick overview of the benefits of web scraping:

Easy lead generation – Gather massive amounts of user information you can use to generate leads.

Understanding customer needs – Scraping for certain keywords such as your company name, brand name, or product reviews, can give you more information about what your customers want and think about your offers.

Price comparison and optimization – Setting prices for your products can be tricky. Still, scraping can help you see what your competitors are doing, allowing you to optimize your prices to attract more customers.

Background checks on business partners – When partnering up with another business or company, web scraping tools can help you check their details such as criminal records, recommendations, education, and reputation.

Conclusion

Web scraping is undoubtedly one of the most useful tools for monitoring competition and extracting valuable data that can help you improve your offers and provide a better service. Since you will mostly scrape competitor websites, you should use advanced methods to keep your scraping a secret.

Http header referer can help you trick various website security measures into thinking that the web scraping tool is really a user, allowing you to extract information even if the owner wants to block you from accessing their website.

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