The business world is getting more competitive by the day. More people are embracing entrepreneurship, and the low employment rate in most countries is pushing individuals to self-employment. For your business to stand out from the competition and attract a large share of the market, you need to set attractive prices.
You can only set competitive prices if you know what your rivals are offering, and price intelligence scraping makes this possible.
Price scraping is a technique of monitoring and extracting valuable data from websites that relate to pricing intelligence, such as offers and discounts. Using these data, you can come up with a competitive pricing strategy.
Price scrapers make use of proxies. Proxies mask your real IP address and prevent your competitors from discovering your intentions. They also make it possible to access geo-blocked websites and use bots to scrape data without being blocked.
There are two main proxies you can use when scraping.
- Residential proxies
- Data center proxies
Here are a few pointers to guide you when scraping prices using proxies.
1) Stick By the Rules
Some companies will have specific rules on how you should collect data from their site. They will dictate how frequently you can scrape and the pages you can scrape. The best way to avoid the website administrator from banning your proxy IP is to follow these rules.
Although some tools or service providers may promise to bypass the rules and deliver extensive results, you can never get far with this kind of approach. Price-scraping is not a one-time affair, so try not to burn bridges.
2) Outsource the Service
Building your price scraper the DIY way might provide the freedom to set it up as you need, but the price scraper will require maintenance, updates, and frequent adjustments to perform optimally.
You also have to keep a constant eye on the numerous websites you are scraping. It will not only be expensive to hire personnel for these tasks, but the entire process will consume so much time. Let the experts handle it.
3) Use Rotating Proxies
A rotating proxy will assign a new IP address for every new connection. This means that you can make as many requests as you need using different IP addresses. And this ensures that the website administrator will not detect and ban you from the site.
Residential proxies are more reliable when web scraping. Get a service provider who will provide you with a pool of residential proxies and automatic IP rotation. Although data center proxies work well, residential proxies offer the most reliability.
4) Scrape Slowly
It would be best if you were kind when price scraping and try not to affect the website’s SEO ranking or page responsiveness. Using rotating proxies will give the impression of organic traffic, which is good for the site. But you also need to make an effort not to slow it down by crawling too fast and making too many requests at once.
Slow down your crawler by programming some sleep calls in between the requests. Make the least number of concurrent requests at a go, and put a few seconds delay between clicks. Remember that a slow website does not just affect the website owner; it slows down your project as well.
Let’s look at two things you should avoid doing when scraping prices.
Don’t Use Free Proxies
Free proxies may be affordable, but they could end up costing you more and messing up with your project. Most of them do not allow the more secure HTTPS connection, and this is a huge security risk for your business. It means that hackers can monitor your connection and steal sensitive information.
There is also the risk that it could contain malware and viruses that could infect your computer. A virus infection could have your business losing its credibility. The free proxy could also steal your cookies and access your login information.
Do Not Use the Same Crawling Pattern
It is easy to detect a price scraper if it follows a similar pattern every time it crawls the website. A scraper will always crawl a site as it is programmed. And this is not the way a human being would browse the website. People are more random.
Add some random actions in your price scraper, such as clicks and mouse movements. It will give the impression of a human visitor and prevent you from being detected.
Setting the right prices should not be a guessing game. Research the prices in the market and set a price that is lower than your competitors to attract price-sensitive customers. Proxies allow you to scrape prices efficiently.
But there are some rules you should follow to ensure your project is successful.
- Outsource the services where you can
- Use rotating proxies
- Ensure that the crawling pattern is random
- Follow the rules in the robot.txt file
- Try not to affect the website’s performance
- Avoid using free proxies
These rules will not just prevent you from being blocked or banned from websites. They will protect your business from cyber criminals and save resources.