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Iveta Vistorskyte

May 12, 2020 6 min read

In today’s fast-changing business world, data extraction is highly needed for market research, so the concept of web scraping becomes more and more known to many. To take a bigger slice of the market, one of the most important components for businesses is information. Data collection can be very time consuming, so by automating the whole process with web scraping, businesses can focus on other tasks.  

Pricing information is important for businesses that want to be competent players in the market. It helps to shape the whole strategy and adjust prices against their competitors.

Are you considering price scraping for your company? There are few web scraping challenges you should know. Complicated web page structures, CAPTCHA, login requirements, IP blocking and more. In this article we’ll explain how to avoid being blocked by target servers. Let’s find out all about user agents and how they are related to price scraping.

First of all, you should figure out some important definitions:

What is web scraping?

Web Scraping is a process when you take required public data and import the found information on your computer or into any local file. Web scraping has become an essential tool for business development these days.

If you are interested in web scraping and you want to start your own web scraping project, don’t forget to check out our other blog posts.

What is price scraping?

Price scraping is the extraction of price data using a web crawler or a bot. The whole workflow consists of searching and copying data from websites to be analyzed later. Even if it sounds simple and you could do it by yourself, price scraping tools help to save a lot of time, especially if you need to extract data from many websites. Then the only thing left is to analyze the found data. This information helps businesses with pricing strategy, including promos, discounts, special offers, etc.

What is user agent?

Did you know that everyone who is currently browsing the web has a user agent? The definition of a user agent itself indicates that it serves as a user representative on the internet. But what does the user agent represent the user to? What is user agent?

User agent acts as the bridge between the user and the internet. Imagine if you needed to specify information about your browser, operating system, software, and device type every single time you browse any website. Surfing the internet would be very complicated and time consuming. This is the reason why every browser has a user agent.

Here is an example of user agent information:

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_15_2) AppleWebKit/605.1.15 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/605.1.15 Version/13.0.4

When your browser connects to a website, the user agent string is included in the website’s HTTP header. Why does the website need information about the user? The web server uses this information to adapt the content to specific web browsers and different operating systems.

With user agent information web server can adapt the content to specific web browsers and different operating systems.

What are the most popular user agents?

If you wonder what the most common user agents are, it’s a very difficult question to answer. They are changing all the time as new browsers are released or new user agents emerge.

If you are interested, check out a dynamic list of the most popular user agents. 

User agents for price scraping

Price Scraping is one of the most important types of web scraping for every business. It helps e-commerce companies to follow the real-time selling prices of products on their competitors’ sites.

Of course, some websites block any scraping because, for example, they do not believe in open data access. There are more ways to block web scraping, but one of them is to block requests from user agents that don’t belong to the main browsers. It’s one of the first checks that allows data sources to identify suspicious requests.

When web scraping is in process, the web server receives numerous requests. If user agents, for example, are identical, the web server identifies requests as suspicious activity. Most web scrapers don’t bother to change their user agents, but as you now understand, it’s crucial.

Also, you should remember to keep the user agents up to date because every browser or operating system changes user agents.

Price Scraping is one of the most important types of web scraping for every business.

What is user agent identifier?

User agent identifier is a supplement used by various web sites to simplify user agent identification. Nowadays, it’s difficult to determine what a given user agent represents, because automated bots, mobile devices, and desktop browsers have exploded into many different forms. User agent identifier is an up-to-date database containing the latest user agents and bot signatures.

Most common user agents for price scraping

There is no such thing as special user agents for price scraping. As you already know, it’s just crucial to use the most popular user agents for web scraping, because this is one of the ways to avoid being blocked by the data resource server. If you are using obsolete or rare user agents, there is a big chance that a web server identifies a web scraping process as suspicious and you may be blocked.

If you want to choose the best user agents for web scraping, check a dynamic list of the most common user agents above. Also, if you are searching for the best web scraping tools for your business, check out Oxylabs’ Web Scraper or Real-Time Crawler.

What is a Web Scraper?

Web Scraper allows you to scrape any target of your choosing. You simply give us a URL, and we give back the data in HTML format. If you want to know more, check out our video about this tool:

What is a Real-Time Crawler?

Real-Time Crawler is a heavy-duty data extraction tool precisely built for data extraction from e-commerce websites and search engines, ensuring 100% delivery. Are you already interested? Check out our video to know more:

Wrapping it up

In short, a user agent acts as the bridge between the user and the internet. It gives the web server necessary information about your browser, software, device type and etc. According to this information, web servers can display different web pages for you.

Setting up the most common user agents for price scraping, you reduce chances of being blocked by targeted servers, because it’s one of the first checks that allows websites to identify questionable requests.

If you feel that everything is clear and you already want to start price scraping, you can register and start using Oxylabs’ web scraping tools right now! Don’t worry if you have some unanswered questions. You can discuss your case with our sales team by clicking here and booking a call.

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About Iveta Vistorskyte

Iveta Vistorskyte is a Copywriter at Oxylabs. Growing up as a writer and a challenge seeker, she decided to welcome herself to the tech-side, and instantly became interested in this field. When she is not at work, you'll probably find her just chillin' while listening to her favorite music or playing board games with friends.

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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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