The internet is a bottomless pit of resources. And these resources could play a big part in building your business. You could collect data to gain business insights, understand customer needs, generate lead sales, and study your competitor’s strategies.
Web scraping is one of the ways in which you can get useful data from the web and into your computer. By using proxy servers, you can circumvent websites restricted by geo-blocking and access those that you have been denied access to as well. But this does not mean a proxy cannot be blocked. It is easy to avoid blocked proxies by dodging anti-scraping techniques.
What are Proxies?
A proxy server is a software system that acts as an intermediary between a user’s computer and the web server from which a web request is made. Its purpose is to have the user visit internet pages anonymously.
When the user browses a page, the web request goes to the proxy, which forwards it to the webserver. Instead of detecting the user’s original IP, the web server reads the proxy’s IP.
The Different Types of Proxies
Here is a variety of proxies you could use to experience the benefits of web scraping
1) Dedicated Proxies
These are proxies provided to a single user at a time. An advantage of this proxies is that the carelessness of others does not cause your proxy to get blocked.
2) Shared Proxies
These proxies fall on the other far end of dedicated proxies. They involve a number of users sharing several proxies. When one user abuses the proxy, the given proxy ban affects every other user.
3) Data Center Proxies
Data center proxies are fast. They are artificial IPs created in data centers. They resemble each other, making them detectable.
4) Residential Proxies
Residential proxies make use of real IP addresses. They are legitimate, making them hard to detect and thus reliable.
5) Static Residential Proxies
Static residential proxies are made from data center proxies and are as reliable as residential proxies. You are given one IP address for as long as you need it. You can get several IP addresses when web crawling to avoid detection.
Reasons Proxies Get Blocked When Web Scraping and How to avoid it
1) Failure to Follow Guidelines
On the robots.txt file are guidelines regarding how bots should crawl the pages and retrieve data. Non-adherence could lead to blocked or banned proxies. Ensure that your bots are programmed to follow these guidelines automatically. You can find the rules by entering the homepage address, followed by ‘/robots.txt.’
2) Avoid Honeypot Traps
Honey pot traps are links in a site that are not visible to an average user. But a spider or bot could detect and follow them. They are traps designed to catch bots visiting links that are not allowed or those not following the robots.txt guidelines. Falling into these traps leads to a proxy ban. Ensure your web scraper is only accessing sites allowed.
3) Do not Abuse the Website Server
Many proxy servers are blocked and banned for abuse. Abuse is when multiple bots and spiders attack a website at once. It causes bad performance of websites. When this happens, website owners are sure to block crawlers from accessing their site. To avoid such situations, ensure that your crawlers are operating at speed similar to what humans would use.
4) Source the Right Proxy Service
The proxy services you are using could be the reason sites block your IP. Try to get a proxy that has never been in use before. You should avoid using the same proxy to crawl multiple websites. Also, avoid using a single IP on multiple crawlers crawling different pages of the same website. Instead, get a company that will provide a pool of IPs from different subnets.
5) Have a Reliable Web Scraping Software
The kind of web scraping software you invest in could also lead to your proxy blocking. If you cannot program the software to follow ‘/robots.txt.’ guidelines, you are likely to have your proxy blocked. Choose a provider who has been in the industry for long and has good reviews from other users. Learn the basics of web scraping, so you know the features to look out for.
What Do You Do After Your Proxy Is Blocked?
In case your proxy is blocked, take it as warning that you are probably doing something wrong. Ensure that you always follow the crawling guidelines provided, and avoid fast crawling.
Proxies are blocked only for a period. Invest in many proxies so that if some get blocked, you will have other options to keep working.
If the proxy is blocked permanently, the right proxy provider will replace it.
Blocked proxies can result from carelessness or negligence. Here are four main things to keep in mind:
- Follow the ‘/robots.txt.’ guidelines
- Invest in a good web scraping software
- Rotate different proxies when crawling
- Use reasonable crawling speed