Today’s data-driven businesses are strategically run by making the best use of available resources. This is the reason perhaps why web scraping and proxies are more common in today’s business world than ever.
So what exactly is web scraping? What are proxies used for? Do you need proxies for business web scraping? We will cover the answers to all of these questions.
What is meant by a Proxy?
Essentially, a proxy server is the other server positioned between you and the website that you are trying to access.
There are various kinds of proxy servers:
- Private or dedicated proxies: these proxies are designed to be used by a single user at a point in time. Although a bit costly, these proxies provide the best performance and complete anonymity.
- Shared proxies: as the name indicates, these proxies are shared between two or more users. They are cost-effective, but they might get banned as they are used by a range of people at a time, which are likely to provide the “bad neighbor” effect on your web scraping experience.
- Data center proxies: these proxies are provided by data centers. Cost-effective and high-on performance, these proxies are more likely than residential ones to get banned due to their nature, which makes them seem slightly less legitimate.
- Residential proxies: these proxies are provided by an internet service provider and are associated with a real IP address that mimics a real user. This is the reason they are highly secure and provide complete anonymity.
What are Proxies Used For?
A proxy works by hiding and masking your IP address. When you send a request to access a particular website, instead of traveling directly to the concerned website, your request first passes through the proxy server. In this process, the proxy server poses itself as if the request had originated from it. Once it gets the response, it conveys it to you, thus acting as a gateway between you and the destination server.
This whole process hides your identity, masks your IP address, keeps you safe, and maintains anonymity.
What is Data Scraping?
Also known as web scraping, data scraping is a process of extracting data from websites for business intelligence purposes. Although you can extract the data manually, this process is time-consuming and prone to errors.
This is when automated web scraping with the help of bots helps you in scraping data on the go. Such a process is capable of scraping a large amount of data from big portals and marketplaces, and storing it into the database in the required format. For more information on web scraping tools check this product at Oxylabs.
How do Companies Use Data Scraping?
Instead of buying contact lists from third-party vendors, a lot of companies use web scraping to extract high-quality sales leads. A lot of other companies scrape job boards to find who is hiring who and what all companies are rapidly growing. They monitor social media accounts of competitors to review who received funding, to keep an eye on their varied strategies, and so on.
Let’s have a look at some of the most prominent use cases:
- To build personalized products
A lot of companies scrape customer reviews to create highly customized products. They feed the extracted data to machine learning tools to recognize the correlations and provide their customers with products based on their demands, preferences, and market needs.
- To track the stock market
Asset management agencies and fund managers are using web scraping and data extraction methods to analyze the data, which could impact the stock markets directly or indirectly.
Web scraping helps you in indexing markets and stocks and monitoring market trends. Companies also choose to scrape financial news websites to conduct sentimental market analysis and to drive strategies based on educated decisions.
As digital transformation and data analytics are on a rapid rise, companies are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to extracting data from every possible source.
However, there is a limitation. Web scraping is not easy to conduct as it used to be a few years back. With the advent of anti-scraping technologies and advanced strategies that prevent web data extraction, most web scrapers fail to extract the required data.
Proxies Can Help!
Proxies work by hiding your real identity and IP address. Thus, when you run a web scraping bot using a proxy server, the destination server considers this as regular user activity. However, if you need to scrape a large portal, you cannot just keep on using a proxy associated with a single IP address. It is likely to get caught by the security mechanism of the target server and leave you banned.
This is when rotating proxy servers which keep on rotating their IP address come to your rescue. This way, you can scrape the websites without triggering any red flags.