How to scan Google without getting blocked

Google Scraping - introduction

Today, web scraping is a must for any business interested in gaining a competitive advantage. It allows you to quickly and efficiently extract data from various sources and is an integral step towards advanced business and marketing strategies.

When done responsibly, web scraping rarely causes problems. But if you don't follow the best web scraping practices, you become more prone to getting blocked. That's why we're here to share with you practical ways to avoid getting blocked while scraping Google.

What is scraping?

In simple terms, web crawling is the collection of publicly available data from websites. Of course, it can be done manually - all you need is the ability to copy and paste the necessary data and a spreadsheet to keep track of it. However, to save time and financial resources, individuals and companies choose automated web scraping, where public information is extracted using special tools. We are talking about web scrapers - they are chosen by those who want to collect data at high speed and at lower cost.

And while dozens of companies offer web scraping tools, they are often complex and sometimes restricted to specific purposes. And even when you find a tool that seems to work like a charm, it doesn't guarantee 100% success.

To make things easier for everyone, we've created a set of powerful scraping tools.

Why is scraping important for your business?

It's no secret that Google is the largest repository of information where you can find everything from the latest market statistics and trends to customer reviews and product prices. Therefore, in order to use this data for business purposes, companies perform data scraping, which allows them to extract information.

Here are some popular ways businesses are using Google scraping to drive business growth:

  • Tracking and analysing competitors
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Business research and lead generation

But let's get down to why you're here - to learn effective ways to avoid getting blocked on Google searches.

8 ways to avoid getting blocked while scraping Google

Anyone who has ever tried web crawling knows that it can be really difficult, especially if you lack knowledge about web crawling best practices.

Therefore, here is a specially selected list of tips to help you make sure that your future scraping activities are successful:

Change IP addresses

Failure to rotate IP addresses is a mistake that can help anti-scraping technologies catch you red-handed. This is because sending too many requests from the same IP address usually prompts the target to consider you a threat or, in other words, a tiny scraping bot.

In addition, rotating IP addresses makes you look like several unique users, which significantly reduces the chances of running into a CAPTCHA or, even worse, a ban wall. To avoid using the same IP for different queries, you can try using the Google Search API with advanced proxy rotation. This will allow you to scan most targets without any problems and enjoy 100% success.

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Set up real user agents

The user agent, a type of HTTP request header, contains information about the browser type and operating system and is included in the HTTP request sent to the web server. Some websites can investigate, easily detect and block suspicious sets of HTTP(S) headers (so-called "fingerprints") that do not look like fingerprints sent by organic users.

Thus, one of the important steps to take before Google data extraction is to create a set of fingerprints that look like organic ones. This will allow your web crawler to look like a legitimate visitor. To make your search easier, check out this list of the most common custom agents.

It is also wise to switch between multiple user agents so that there is not a sudden increase in the number of requests from a user agent to a particular website. As with IP addresses, using the same user agent will make it easier to identify it as a bot and earn a block.

Use a headless browser

Some of Google's most sophisticated targets use extensions, web fonts, and other variables that can be tracked by executing Javascript on the end user's browser to understand whether requests are legitimate and coming from a real user.

To successfully extract data from these websites, you may need a headless browser. It will work exactly like any other browser; it is just that a headless browser will not be configured with a graphical user interface (GUI). This means that such a browser will not have to display all the dynamic content necessary for the user experience, which ultimately prevents an attacker from locking you out while collecting data at high speed.

Implement a CAPTCHA solution

CAPTCHA solvers are special services that help to solve tedious puzzles when entering a certain page or website. There are two types of these puzzles:

  • Human approach - real people do the work and send you the results;
  • Automated - powerful artificial intelligence and machine learning are designed to determine the meaning of the puzzle and solve it without any human intervention.

Since CAPTCHAs are very popular among websites designed to determine whether their visitors are real people, it is very important to use CAPTCHA solving services when scraping search engine data. They will help you quickly get around these restrictions and, most importantly, allow you to scrape without your knees knocking.

Reduce scraping speed and set intervals between queries

While manual scraping is time-consuming, scraping bots can do it at high speed. However, no one wants super-fast requests - websites can crash due to increased incoming traffic, and you can easily get banned for irresponsible scraping.

That's why evenly distributing requests over time is another golden rule for avoiding blocking. You can also add random breaks between different requests to prevent creating a scraping pattern that can be easily detected by sites and lead to unwanted blocking.

Another valuable idea to implement in your scraping activities is to plan your data collection. For example, you can create a scraping schedule in advance and then use it to send requests at a constant rate. This way, the process will be properly organised, and you will be less likely to send requests too quickly or distribute them unevenly.

Detecting chan

Data extraction is not the final stage of data collection. Don't forget about parsing, a process where raw data is examined to filter out the necessary information that can be structured into different data formats. Like web crawling, data parsing also faces challenges. One of them is the changing structure of web pages.

Websites cannot stay the same forever. Their layouts are updated to add new features, improve the user experience, create a fresh brand presentation, and much more. And while these changes improve the usability of websites, they can also lead to parser breakdowns. The main reason is that parsers are usually built based on a specific web page design. If the web design changes, the parser won't be able to extract the data you expect without pre-configuration.

Thus, you must be able to detect and control changes to the website. The most common way to do this is to monitor the parser's output: if its ability to analyse certain fields drops, it probably means that the site's structure has changed.

Avoid scraping images

It's no secret that images are objects with a large amount of data. Wondering how this can affect the image extraction process?

Firstly, image scraping requires a lot of storage space and additional bandwidth. In addition, images are often loaded as the user's browser executes Javascript. This can complicate the data collection process and slow down the crawler.

Extract data from Google cache

Finally, fetching data from the Google cache is another possible way to avoid blocking during scraping. In this case, you will have to make a request not to the site itself, but to its cached copy.

Although this method seems reliable because it does not require direct access to the website, you should always remember that it is only suitable for purposes that do not contain sensitive information, which is also constantly changing.

Conclusion

Google scraping is something that many companies do to get the publicly available data they need to improve their strategies and make informed decisions. However, you should keep in mind that scraping requires a lot of work if you want to do it consistently.

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