Web scraping involves the use of botnets to get content from your internet site. The content collected using this option is used for purposes out of your control as the site owner. Web scraping is mainly the use of data found in a website against the owner’s terms. Web scraping could lead to the replication of the website data in another place.
Why Is Data Scraping Destructive?
The legit intention of data scraping is not bad; it can be used legitimately for many purposes, as highlighted below.
- Price comparison
This happens when websites deploy bots to help with the auto-fetch prices as well as product descriptions. The data collected can be used for allied seller websites.
- Market research
It involves the use of companies that are using the scrapers to get data from different forms of social media. Thus, they help in sentiment analysis.
- Search engine bots
This involves search engine bots crawling into a website. They will analyze its content, which they use to help with the ranking.
Despite the many benefits that one might get when they use web scraping, it is a process that malicious activities can use. Some effects of web scraping are;
- Getting unique content
After investing in your website, to ensure it is unique and gives you a competitive edge, bots can scrap the content as soon as you publish it and reproduce it on another website. If that is the case, it will put your competitive edge at stake. Thus, this will lead to your brand value diminishing.
- Form spam
When bots scrap your website, they will be able to fill it with fake data. Thus, this will challenge you to tell the difference between the actual leads and spam leads.
- SEO ranking drop
When your content is misused, then it will harm the visibility of your Search engine. Note that all search engines will only prioritize original content. Thus, it will lead to a downgrade of your search engine rankings when you have scrap content. The worst part is that the scraper site might end up ranking higher than your site.
- Loss in revenue
Since your competitive advantage will be impacted when bots take your content, the chances are that your client base will go down over time. Besides, if you had advertisers who had partnered with you are likely to lower their bids or even consider other options.
How to Protect Your Website from Web Scraping
The increasing demand for web content is the top reason why scraping has become popular. The bot scrapers usually target sites that are known to create unique and beautiful content. Thus, if your site is known to create unique content, you need to ensure that you have put in the effort needed to safeguard your website.
1) Use Of Software
One way you can use to ensure your website is secure is by using real-time web scraping protection software. The software is essential as it can block the bots before they can gain access to your website. Since you will stop the bots before they get into your site, you will not have to spend money trying to find the bots manually. When choosing, make sure that you invest in software that is known to offer you quality service.
2) Stop Hotlinking
The use of hotlinking lets you display resources like images or videos on other websites while using the content source. The mistake most people make during web scraping is to copy links and images directly to their website. However, when you use hotlinking preventive measures, you will not make use of the server resource. This might not eliminate the possibility of other people stealing from your content; it will play a massive role in reducing the risk of bot scraping.
3) Limit The Rate Of Requests
You can tell the difference between human behavior and botnet behavior on your website. You can do this by checking the speed of interactions. While humans are a bit slow on how they go through the content, the botnets will go through it at a high rate. They do so fast that they can go through as much content as possible within a short duration. As a website owner, you can lessen the possibility of web scraping by reducing the number of requests used by a single IP address.
4) Make Use Of Captures
Most people view the use of captures as a bother to their clients, but that is not the case. This is one of the effective ways you can use to help keep bots from your websites. Though the capture answers are simple, the bots find it challenging to surmount. But it is essential to use it in moderation so that you cannot lead to it negatively impacting the user’s experience.
5) Implement The Proper Use Of Terms And Conditions
One of the easiest and practical methods used to prove data scraping is to clarify it. That can be done by including a clause of the terms and conditions to ensure that you have protected your content from being reproduced for personal use. This might not stop the hackers, but it is a way to scare them and give them a legal advantage.
6) Ensure You Regularly Change Your HTML
Another option you can use when dealing with bots is to change the HTML mark regularly. Changing the patterns regularly will help make it difficult for those looking for ways to exploit your vulnerabilities. Changing the HTML is one of the ways to ensure that your site is not uniform or consistent. When you do this, it will help prevent the attackers who are trying to find a pattern.
The Bottom Line
Website owners who create unique content will need to prevent web scraping. There is no single method that will guarantee to keep the bots at bay. It is best to learn about available options and choose the one that suits your website. Remember that everything you do does not negatively impact the user experience and the best option when looking for web scraping protection is finding a compromise.