Data gathering (web scraping) is the act of importing information from a webpage into a local file or a spreadsheet on your local machine or cloud storage. It is an efficient way of gathering information from the web.
Large and small businesses are using this process to make smarter decisions that help scale their clientele. Proxies lie at the center of this operation as they make the act seamless and efficient.
In this article, I will explore the critical role that proxies play in the process of scraping data from the web. Also, I will touch on some realistic use cases where data scraping can be used around the web. The article will end by exploiting areas with untapped potential that can benefit from data gathering in the future.
What Are Proxies?
Proxies are software that reroutes your internet requests before they get to the target server. They then receive the response from the server on your behalf before they forward it to your computer. As the middlemen, they ensure your request stays anonymous and your privacy is not breached.
There are different reasons why you might want to hide your internet protocol (IP) address while gathering data. Computer servers are configured to notice patterns of incessant requests from the same address and ban them if they discover foul play. Another reason is to bypass data that has been restricted in your home nation or to bypass notorious CAPTCHAs.
Main Features Of A Proxy
- Has its IP address.
- It provides an extra layer of security.
- Enhances your online privacy.
- Used to deliver geo-targeted adverts.
Some Possible Use Cases Of Data Gathering
- Business analysis research: Business analysis requires a ton of data. Using a data-gathering tool built on proxies gives you an edge. With this, you can easily avoid problems with IP blocks, geo-restrictions, and CAPTCHAs.
- News scraping: Perhaps you need reliable information to beat your competitors, you could extract such reliable information from news websites. This practice is termed news scraping, and businesses employ it to make smart decisions. However, while web scraping retrieves information from any website, news scraping targets online media websites. Check out this blog post for more information on news scraping.
- To gather disparate data: Data is most useful when structured and easily accessible. After you have gathered different information from multiple sites, you can sort through them and rearrange them in a manner that makes sense to your business needs. However, to do this, you need data, lots of it, from different sources. Some websites do not accept multiple requests from the same IP. You can bypass this with the use of proxies.
- Review Monitoring: Your brand’s online reputation, search engine ranking, and, ultimately, attainment of marketing goals are affected by responses to customers’ reviews. Proxies expedite this process.
- Price Monitoring: Recent reports have highlighted the numerous times a product’s price changes daily. Monitoring such change allows you to stay a step ahead of your competitors. This process requires a lot of data scraping, which might get your IP banned from such websites if you do not use a proxy.
- Monitor website changes: With proxy-powered data scraping tools, you can monitor your competitor’s website. Alternatively, you can also use this to check your website for errors and defacement.
Some Future Use Cases Of Data Gathering
- Gather data for machine learning: Machine learning models require much data to obtain a good confidence ratio. Sometimes, training a model could require petabytes of data. Gathering such a large amount of data is easier for larger corporations. But for small business owners, we need to get creative and have a means of bypassing the restrictions on sending out multiple requests for data fetching.
- Artificial Intelligence: Think of Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. They have been exposed to petabytes of data to make them what they are. Granted, the ability to create something in that range may not be available to the average entrepreneur right now. But, in the near future, AI will be accessible to us, and we’ll need data to make our AI smarter.
The future of e-commerce and the internet as a whole rests on data. Your business needs a solid data gathering approach to compete with other companies. Gathering such data is hindered by notorious CAPTCHAs, geo-restrictions, and IP blocks. The use of proxies helps expedite the process and gives you an efficient tool to gather as much data as your company needs.