Why Are HTTP Headers Important for Web Scraping?

Web scraping is a great tool for all companies and businesses in their race for market domination. Often, web scraping plays a crucial role in whether a business will be on top or not. Those who haven't yet implemented such a great tool can only look at others thriving while using it.

So it's not a secret that many companies think about using it for building an advantage over their competition. If they decide to do so, it will be very useful for the marketing team when they're creating a plan of action.

In this article, we will talk about web scraping and why you can make it more effective for your benefit in combination with the right HTTP headers.

What is Web Scraping?

We will first explain what web scraping or internet scraping is for all those unfamiliar with this term. Web scraping is an automated tool that searches all the web sites and collects the available data publicly for legal use. Instead of going through the entire process by hand, it saves a considerable amount of time invested in collecting such data.

The tool is pre-set for looking only at the information useful to you. After you have it on your hands, such data is analyzed for creating a successful business strategy backed up by statistical facts.

That eliminates the need to speculate on the popularity of some trends or merchandise and provide facts through numbers. Optimized HTTP headers come in useful because they prevent web pages from blocking the web scraping tool as a threat. The combination of these two means that you'll run it with success.

Why do Companies Use Web Scraping

As we mentioned above, companies can use all that useful data to navigate how their business should cope with the market changes. The market and public opinions and desires change from month to month, so it's up to the companies to keep up with those changes and act accordingly. Imagine how much staff one web scraping tool can replace.

That means that companies will save time and a lot of money by avoiding hiring new staff members or third-party companies for research on their behalf.

How Optimizing HTTP Headers Improves Scraping

Most owners of website clients know about the threat of slowing down its data transfer speed by a third-person party scraping the site for data. That's the reason why they invest in tools for blocking anything that might do that. Sites will look for those threats and block them from conducting anything suspicious.

Optimizing HTTP headers will prevent that from happening by providing additional information to the server, which will recognize it as a biological visitor. Not only does it prevent blocking, but it also helps by increasing the chance that web scraping will provide high-quality data.

Most Important HTTP Headers You Should Optimize

Among others, these are the headers you should optimize if you want to avoid getting blocked by a website.

1. HTTP Header Referer

What an HTTP header referer does is add a previously visited website as a way to prove to the server that it's not targeted by a bot client, but instead, to think it's visited by an ordinary person looking for a way to spend some time browsing the web.

It seems like a silly thing, but an HTTP header referer is very useful if you're making your bot look like a human.

2. Accept Request Header

A common mistake is not optimizing the accept request header before starting scraping. By doing that, you're setting up what kind of data you're allowing the server to send to the client.

This way, the server recognizes you more like a human user by having one-on-one communication, and the chances of being blocked from the server are close to nothing.

3. Accept-Encoding Request Header

If the server can handle it, this header will notify the server which algorithm it should use for sending a large amount of data compressed back to the client. That is a win-win scenario both for the server and for the web scraping client.

In that case, servers save a lot of traffic, and the bot gets their data much faster.

4. User-Agent Request Header

This request sends information about the operating system, software type, and its version. By doing that, the server knows which type of HTML layout to send back to the client. Because web scraping includes sending out multiple requests simultaneously, the server can identify it as a potential threat and block it.

Optimizing this header will create multiple strings showing different types of devices or browsers are requesting data. It will look more natural for the server if the request is coming from various sources and the chances of getting blocked are slim.

You can also check this article and learn more about "5 key HTTP Headers for Web Scraping".

Conclusion

Combining a good web scraping tool and proper HTTP header optimization will lead to success for any company willing to invest their resources in data collection. It's done by many, and it seems like, in the future, it might become a new standard for any type of operation.

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