Planning a Project on Web Scraping
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Gabija Fatenaite

Jun 03, 2021 9 min read

So, you’re planning a web scraping project and don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’re looking for a solution best suited for your web scraping projects? Whatever your case is, we can help you out here a little bit.

This article will go over how to start a web scraping project and choose the right proxy type for your website scraping projects. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of in-house web scrapers for the more seasoned businesses. If you want to get straight to building a simple web scraping tool, watch our tutorial video!

Web scraping project ideas

Web scraping has many use cases. Companies gather data from various websites, for example, they scrape e-commerce sites in order to monitor different prices. Other companies use web scraping to ensure their brand protection and monitor reviews that appear on the web.

If you’re wondering what might be an excellent way to start with, here are some common web scraping project ideas that can be incorporated into your business strategy:

  • Market research
  • SEO monitoring
  • Price monitoring
  • Review monitoring
  • Brand protection
  • Travel fare aggregation

Planning a project on web scraping: where to start? 

Alright, so you’re planning a web scraping project. Of course, in the beginning, you should think of web scraping project ideas. As a business, you should find out what sort of data you’ll need to extract. That can be anything: pricing data, SERP data from search engines, etc. For the sake of an example, let’s say you need the latter – SERP data for SEO monitoring. Now what?

For any web scraping project, you will need a vast amount of proxies (in other words, IPs) to successfully connect to the desired data source through your automated web scraping script. Then proxy servers will gather your required data from the web server, without reaching implemented requests limit, and slip under anti-scraping measures.

Proxy use explained. Choosing the right proxies for web scraping projects.
For any projects based on web scraping you’ill need to use proxies

Before jumping to look for a proxy provider, first, you need to know how much data you’ll be needing. In other words – how many requests you’ll be making per day etc. Based on data points (or request volumes) and traffic you’ll be needing, it will be easier for you to choose the right proxy type for the job.

But what if you’re not sure how many requests you’ll be making and what traffic you’ll be generating on your web scraping project? Well, there are a few solutions for this issue: you can contact us at hello@oxylabs.io to discuss more on your web scraping project ideas, and our team will gladly help you figure out all the numbers you need. Or you can choose a web scraping solution that does not require you to know the exact numbers, and allows you just to do the job you need.

Once you have the numbers or at least have a rough idea on what targets you need to scrape, you’ll find it a lot easier to choose the right tools for your web scraping project.

Choosing the right proxy type for web scraping projects

There are two main types: residential and datacenter proxies. However, there’s a lot of misconception going around that “residential proxy” is the best as it provides ultimate anonymity. Actually, all of them provide anonymity online. What type of a proxy you need to buy depends solely on what web scraping project you will be doing.

If you need a proxy for, let’s say, a web scraping project like market research – a datacenter proxy will be more than enough for you. They’re fast, stable, and most of all – a lot cheaper than residential proxies. However, if you want to scrape more challenging targets, let’s say for sales intelligence – a residential proxy will be a better choice, as most websites are aware of such data gathering projects and getting blocked on such websites is a lot easier. With residential proxies, however, it will be harder to get blocked, due to their nature of looking like real IPs.

To make things a little clearer, here’s a table of possible use-cases and best proxy solutions for each business case:

Datacenter proxiesResidential proxies
Market research Travel fare aggregation
Brand protectionAd verification 
Email protection

Let’s talk a bit more about three other use-cases. These include the earlier-mentioned projects based on web scraping like sales intelligence, SEO monitoring, and product page intelligence. Even though you can use proxies for these particular use cases, you’ll find yourself struggling with one of the most common bottlenecks found in web scraping. It’s time. Or not enough of it. Let’s jump into another topic – the pros and cons of using in-house web scrapers with proxies.

Pros and cons of in-house web scrapers 

There are two approaches to web scraping: maintaining and working with an in-house web scraper or outsourcing web scraping tools from third-party providers. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of in-house web scraping. It will help you decide whether you want to build your own infrastructure or outsource a third-party tool for your web scraping project.

Pros of in-house web scraping projects

Some advantages of running the web scraping process in-house include more control, faster setup speed, and quicker resolution of issues.

More control

Having an in-house solution for your web scraping project ideas gives you full control over the process. You can customize the scraping process to suit your company’s needs better. Thus, companies with a team of experienced developers often choose to manage their web scraping needs in-house.

Faster setup speed

Getting an in-house web scraper up and running can be a faster process than outsourcing from third-party providers. An in-house team may better understand the company’s requirements and set up the web scraper faster.

Quicker resolution of issues

Working with an in-house team makes it easier to resolve issues that may surface quickly. With a third-party web scraping tool, you’ll have to raise a support ticket and wait for some time before the issue gets attended to.

Cons of in-house web scraping projects

While in-house web scraping has its benefits, it also comes with a couple of drawbacks. Some of these include higher costs, maintenance hurdles, and greater exposure to the associated risks. 

Higher cost

Setting up an in-house web scraper can be quite expensive. Server costs, proxy costs, as well as maintenance costs, can add up pretty quickly. You will also have to hire and train skilled web scraping developers to manage the process. As a result, outsourcing web scraping tools from third-party providers is often a cheaper option.

Maintenance challenges

Maintaining an in-house web scraping setup can be a real challenge. Servers need to be kept in optimal conditions, and the web scraping program must be constantly updated to keep up with changes to the websites being scraped.

Associated risks

There are certain legal risks associated with web scraping if not done properly. Many websites often place restrictions on web scraping activity. An in-house team may not be experienced enough to get around these issues safely. A third-party provider with an experienced team of developers will be better able to follow the best practices to scrape websites safely.

Before getting started on a web scraping project, it’s important to determine beforehand which strategy will better serve your needs. For most businesses, a third-party tool such as the Oxylabs’ Real-Time Crawler is a more feasible option.

Oxylabs Real-Time Crawler can be used for web scraping projects.
For web scraping project ideas you can choose Real-Time Crawler

“Choosing what tool to use for you web scraping tasks depends on your target sites. Our Real-Time Crawler is the best option for a big search engine or any e-commerce site. This way you’ll have the highest chance to successfully gather data from multiple targets without having to worry about managing proxies, avoiding captchas, and scaling your whole infrastructure.”

Advises our Product Owner, Aleksandras Sulzenko.

Conclusion 

We hope this article has helped with your web scraping project planning and answered proxy related questions a bit more thoroughly.

Want to find out more information about web scraping? We have other blog posts that will answer all of your questions! The most common challenge for web scraping is how to get around web page blocks when scraping large e-commerce sites. Also, if you have web scraping project ideas, you should learn more about data gathering methods for e-commerce.

People also ask

Web scraping vs. data mining: what’s the difference?

If you are planning to start your web scraping project, you should know that web scraping is only responsible for taking the selected data and downloading it. It doesn’t involve any data analysis. Data mining is a process when raw data is turned into useful information for businesses. Check out our blog for more details: Data Mining and Machine Learning: What’s the Difference?

How to avoid being blocked when web scraping?

By understanding how e-commerce websites protect themselves, web blocks can be avoided. There are very particular practices that can help you scrape data off e-commerce websites without getting banned.

What is the difference between residential and datacenter proxies?

It all depends on whether you need high security and legitimacy, or faster proxies who will hide your IP. Speed, safety, and legality are the main differences between residential and datacenter proxies. If you need more information, read more in our blog post: Datacenter Proxies vs. Residential Proxies.

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About Gabija Fatenaite

Gabija Fatenaite is a Senior Content Manager at Oxylabs. Having grown up on video games and the internet, she grew to find the tech side of things more and more interesting over the years. So if you ever find yourself wanting to learn more about proxies (or video games), feel free to contact her - she’ll be more than happy to answer you.

All information on Oxylabs Blog is provided on an "as is" basis and for informational purposes only. We make no representation and disclaim all liability with respect to your use of any information contained on Oxylabs Blog or any third-party websites that may be linked therein. Before engaging in scraping activities of any kind you should consult your legal advisors and carefully read the particular website's terms of service or receive a scraping license.

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