Data scraping or web scraping is becoming increasingly common among a myriad of industries, including the automotive sector. Why is that?
It’s quite obvious. We live in a world where data dictates everything from tomorrow’s weather to how your customers will react to the price of a new product you’re launching. In fact, saying that data is the key to success will be an understatement.
According to IBM’s estimate, poor quality data costs US companies $3.1 trillion a year. So, it makes sense why companies are using data scraping to mitigate this risk and collect high-quality data, especially in the automotive industry, where new data pours in every year.
Below, we go into detail about the best tips for data scraping and how to use an auto web scraper.
Common Challenges of Web Scraping
When you scrape the web, you’re basically getting the information from the target website. As expected, these websites aren’t exactly happy about giving up their data, especially to competitors. That’s why you’re likely to face several challenges in web scraping:
A common method websites use to stop scrapers is IP blocking. If a website detects too many requests coming from the same IP address, it blocks the address to restrict its scraping process.
Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart or CAPTCHAs do exactly what they sound like. They differentiate between requests coming from humans and bots.
While humans can tick the boxes containing buses or road signs, bots cannot. In this way, websites keep scrapers out. Although there are quite a few technologies to bypass CAPTCHAs, they still tend to slow down the data scraping process.
A honeypot trap is a method used by the website owner to trap scrapers. It may be a link that’s only visible to web scrapers and not to humans. Once a scraper falls into this trap, the website gets access to its IP address and blocks it.
Some websites geo-restrict access requests. Simply put, you can only visit the website if you live in the region. In the automotive industry, where most automobiles are either imported or exported, learning about the international market is imperative.
Therefore, geo-restrictions pose a huge challenge in terms of data scraping.
5 Tips to Scrape the Web Efficiently
Now that you’re familiar with the challenges of web scraping, let’s discuss some tips that can help you scrape the web without many hurdles.
1. Rotate Your IPs
It’s a no-brainer that if you send a ton of requests from the same IP address, the target website’s server will block your IP.
Using a proxy that conceals your IP address from the target website is the first part of the equation. To make proxies more effective, use a proxy server that automatically ‘’rotates’’ the IP addresses, sending requests from a different address from the proxy pool every time.
IP rotation also allows you to carry on undisturbed web scraping. Even if one IP address gets blocked, the proxy server will automatically use another IP from the pool to send the subsequent request.
2. Read the Robots.txt File
The Robots.txt file gives you directions on what you can scrape on a website. It indicates the pages that you can scrape and the ones that are out of bounds. It also includes information about the allowed frequency of scraping.
Respect the target website’s Robots.txt file to lower your risk of being blocked and avoid intensive scraping.
3. Use a Headless Browser
A headless browser lacks a graphical user interface. Instead, it requires a command-line interface.
4. Use the Right User Agent
The user agent refers to the HTTP request header. It shows the target website which operating system and browser you’re using. For instance, here’s a user agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (platform; rv:geckoversion) Gecko/geckotrail Firefox/firefoxversion
The target website will instantly know that you’re using Firefox to access the site. When data scraping, you should avoid using the same header for every request as it’s a clear giveaway that a bot is trying to access the website.
5. Use an Automated Web Scraper
An automated web scraper will save you a lot of time and hassle, quickly scraping the list of URLs you provide to it. Most automated web scrapers also have in-built proxy rotation, so you don’t have to manually rotate the proxies to prevent IP blocking.
If you’re wondering how to use an auto web scraper in the automotive industry, you’d be more than delighted to know that these web scrapers can help you conduct:
- Price monitoring
- Demand and supply monitoring
- Aggregated car listing
- Consumer sentiment analysis
You can further use this data to make informed decisions about automobile pricing, marketing strategies, and other business elements. One of the industry leaders wrote a blog post about scraping data in the automotive industry.
Web scraping is instrumental not only in the automotive industry but also in other business sectors, from finance to healthcare. Besides data analysis, web scraping is useful in price comparison, competition monitoring, lead generation, social media sentiment analysis, and identifying investment opportunities.
It’s about time all businesses learn how to use an auto web scraper to their advantage, as leveraging data for informed decision-making is the ultimate way forward.