Can Websites Detect Web Scraping Activities?
Scraping is the extraction of data from websites and using it for various purposes, including data mining and user tracking. The main problem with web scraping is that website owners or server administrators can easily detect you, primarily if you use data center proxies to perform large-scale data gathering tasks. As a web scraper, expect many websites to ban your IP address! Luckily, there are ways around this problem.
How to Stop Scraper Detection
In this article, we’ll look at tips on how to scrape without getting caught by search engines, website servers, or admins who monitor sites for signs of scraping activity.
Use Rotating IPs
Rotating proxy IP addresses are a popular choice among web scrapers. If your proxy provider has the automatic IP rotation feature, activate it and scrape safely. Such proxies are incredibly useful when gathering large amounts of data. They assign your computer a new proxy every few minutes to prevent targeted websites from recognizing you. However, rotating proxies are pricier than standard proxies and may not always be as fast as you’d like.
Use Residential Proxies
Sometimes, IP rotation might not work, especially if you’re scraping websites that use advanced proxy detection. The easiest way around this is by using residential proxy servers to avoid detection when scraping. The good thing about these proxies is they offer stable IP addresses straight from ISPs.
Residential proxy providers offer IP addresses from real users, which you can use to surf as many websites as possible without attracting the attention of website owners.
Use the Right User Agent
A user agent is a string through which websites identify browsers and bots. While user agents are not unique to a particular search engine, websites use such information to examine requests and block those that don’t come from major browsers.
Some websites may even block you if you repeatedly access them using the same user agent, but there are tricks to avoid such restrictions. The first trick is to activate Google’s User Agent Switcher extension for Chrome. The tool will change the user agent string of your browser and trick websites into believing they’re communicating with a different device or operating system.
Regularly switching user agents may also be an excellent idea because it will prevent a spike of requests from the same user agent. Remember, websites can easily detect even the slightest change in user behavior.
Avoid Low-Quality IPs
IPs are not equal, and there are some you must avoid if you want to stay undetected when web scraping.
- Blacklisted IPs
These include IP addresses from Tor sites, proxies, and VPNs with poor reputations. Use tools like whatsmyipaddress.com to check whether ISPs have blocked your IP address.
- Blocked IPs
Bad actors and hackers mostly use these. If you’re on a network blocked by firewalls like Cloudflare and SonicWall, your IPs won’t work for you because they’re simply not allowed, and websites will think you’ve bad intentions.
Don’t let your intentions be so obvious. As you already know, bots and humans work differently in terms of the pace of performing tasks. If you make many repeated requests at a time, the target website may crash.
To avoid such mistakes, be prudent in your request intervals. Figure out how to make your web scraper a little more human. Make a few requests and take some time before scraping again. You may also try to limit your network bandwidth, allowing you to gather data at a slower pace.
Remember, randomizing your requests is about enhancing unpredictability and avoiding obvious patterns that announce you as a web scraper!
Select Your Targets Carefully
Avoiding Blocks When Scraping Is Easier Than You Think
The tips above will help reduce the chance of being blocked when scraping websites. The good thing is you can use all of them at once or combine them with other existing techniques. Remember, anti-blocking strategies boil down to anonymous scraping through proxies and knowing how to give the whole process a human aspect so that websites will not flag you as a bad actor.