Running an online business requires a different approach than a traditional company. You have to stay on top of things at all times. That involves competition monitoring, a practice used by small and large businesses looking to get an advantage over their competitors.
Ensuring that your offer has the best prices will definitely help you grab a portion of the markets. Most businesses use web scrapers to extract pricing data from competitors and use it to find gaps and optimize their prices. Stay with us, and we’ll tell you how everything works, as well as information on the most common user agents you should consider.
Introduction to Web Scraping
Web scraping is a term used to describe one of the most effective methods of extracting data from websites, pages, or servers. Using one of many available web scraping software tools, you can quickly learn more details about anything you want.
This method is widely used by businesses worldwide to find useful information, monitor competition and prices, build brand awareness, generate user reviews, and so on. Once you find the information you need, you can identify weak spots in your operation and use your findings to improve your offer. It’s a handy tool that can identify current market trends and find the best unique selling point for your offer.
Challenges of Scraping
There is no doubt that web scraping is a powerful tool for extracting useful information from your competition. With that said, no one likes when their competitors extract the information they can use to improve their offer, which is why most websites have multiple security features set up. Web scraping definitely runs into challenges all the time, but with the right tools, you can still conduct your data extraction routine without anyone knowing.
Here are some of the challenges you can expect to run into when scraping for information:
1. Bot Access
Most advanced web scrapers use bots to find and extract information. However, many sites don’t allow you to use bots of any kind. If that’s the case, you can contact the site owner and ask for their permission for web scraping. If they don’t allow it, you can either go somewhere else or use a proxy server.
2. IP Blocking
IP blocking is one of the most used methods of preventing unwanted web scraping. Every computer connected to the internet has its own IP address. If you try to scrape for information from the same device multiple times, the site provider can identify your connection and ban your IP from accessing the website.
CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It’s one of the most popular anti-scraping tools that require the user to solve logical problems to gain access to a website. In other words, your web scrapers won’t be able to access the site at all.
4. Real-Time Data Scraping
Real-time data scraping is vital when it comes to price monitoring and comparison, inventory tracking, and so on. Keeping an eye on all that data in real-time is no easy task, especially when you consider that one small mistake can cost a ton of money.
User-Agents for Scraping Pricing Data
User agents are specially designed software solutions for monitoring websites. It’s designed to appear as a regular user, allowing you to conduct real-time monitoring without raising any alarms. They bridge the gap between the user and the internet. They provide all details a server or website needs to send the requested information to the right location. Every browser has a user agent, as it would be impossible to use the internet without them.
Best User Agents for Scraping Pricing Data
Most websites will try to prevent you from scraping their pages. One of the ways how websites identify suspicious requests is by checking their user agents. If they don’t belong to the main browsers, they are identified as suspicious requests. Most developers don’t bother to change their scrapers’ user agents, but it’s crucial.
When it comes to collecting pricing information, you can use a few different user agents designed for that specific purpose. You can check out a fresh list of the most common user agents you can use.
Price monitoring would be impossible without web scrapers, as you can’t possibly keep your mind on so much different information at the same time. Web scrapers can help you find the best selling point for your products and services by collecting pricing information from your competitors.
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