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Web Scraping Challenges You’re Likely to Face

People crawl websites for different reasons. There are close to 800 million websites on the World Wide Web and you could be facing billions of pages for crawling.

Coming up with such a program will obviously be resource-intensive and there is also a chance that it might not be as efficient as you wish.

There are some challenges that you’re likely to face when using web scraping tools and we’re going to highlight some of them.

Data Warehousing

This is a challenge that you’re likely to face when coming with a web scraper. If the infrastructure is not properly built, you will experience a challenge with searching, filtering, and exportation of the mined data.

That means you need a scalable warehouse, especially if you’re collecting huge sets of data. It should also be secure and fault-tolerant.

Structure Changes to Websites

Website structure changes happen almost on a daily basis. If the program is not robust enough, it could be rendered useless with a simple tweak to the websites it is supposed to crawl.

Most websites will change the structure of the UI to make them more attractive. Crawlers will be set to the code of the website at that particular time.

A good web crawler will need to be adjusted every few weeks so as to address the changes that might have been made to the websites that are to be crawled. You don’t want constant crashes and incomplete data when you’re trying to mine data.

Legal Issues

There is a thin line between what’s legal and what isn’t when it comes to scraping. You might find yourself in trouble with the law because of the scraping endeavors.

That is why developing an in-house solution is not always recommended when there is someone that can do it on your behalf. Most vendors are aware of the legal implications that come with unhealthy scraping practices.

They wouldn’t risk their reputation and losing customers because of running in trouble with the law. If you’re looking for a vendor that you can trust, you should definitely check out Zenscrape.

Anti-scraping Technologies

There are some websites that are equipped with anti-scraping technologies that will thwart any crawl attempts. It can be challenging to get an alternative when websites have made it hard to scrap. A good example of such a website is Linkedin.

Such companies have developers that employ IP blocking techniques and sometimes it isn’t worth the effort trying to crawl them. It will take a lot of time and money developing a walk around to bypass such restrictions.

Hostile Technology

There are some websites that have a hostile environment that makes data scraping almost impossible. This is true for websites and apps that have been developed using Javascript and Ajax. You can still get a solution but you can expect to pay more.

Quality of Data

With data mining, you’re never guaranteed that you will get the quality that you’re looking for even when you have set the filters.

You want to make sure that the data being scraped meets the quality guidelines that you’ve set.

Faulty data can lead to serious issues and could compromise the integrity of the clean data that has mined.

Honeypot Traps

There are some web developers that will put honeypot traps in the code of the website in order to detect crawlers. These links won’t be visible to a normal user but can be picked up by a crawler.

Sometimes these honeypot traps are coded to display errors to discourage crawling the website.

Getting the Right Vendor

Getting the right vendor is not a straightforward process. You might have to go through different listings before you narrow down to a few potential vendors.

This is not only time consuming but there are no guarantees that you will get the right company for the job. That is why it is important that you’re doing due diligence before you settle on a provider.

Is the program scalable enough to address all your business needs? Who will be in charge of the maintenance?

Asking such questions will ensure that you’re working with an experienced vendor.

Conclusion

As much as web crawling technologies are improving by the day, webmasters have also become smarter. It is becoming a lot harder to crawl at a large scale.

There are also the legal considerations to have in mind which makes scraping challenging. The best approach would be to look for a trusted vendor so that you don’t have to worry about the little details.

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