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How to Scrape Google Without Getting Blocked

Dominick Hayes

March 25, 2022

Nowadays, web scraping is essential for any business interested in gaining a competitive edge. It allows quick and efficient data extraction from a variety of sources and acts as an integral step towards advanced business and marketing strategies.

While, if done responsibly, web scraping rarely leads to any issues, when you begin making a significant load of requests and don’t follow web scraping best practices, you become more likely to get blocked. Thus, this article will provide a list of useful ways to avoid the problem of blocking while scraping Google.

What is scraping?

In simple terms, web scraping is the process of collecting publicly available data from websites. Not surprisingly, it can be done manually – everything you need is the ability to copy-paste the necessary data and a spreadsheet to keep track of it. But, with the aim of saving time and financial resources, individuals and companies choose automated web scraping where public information is extracted with the help of special tools. These tools are referred to as web scrapers and are a preferred solution for those who want to gather data at high speed and with lower costs. 

Why is scraping important for your business? 

It’s no secret – Google is the ultimate storehouse of information that has everything ranging from the latest market statistics and trends to customer feedback and product prices. Therefore, in order to use this data for business purposes, companies perform data scraping, which allows them to extract the needed information quickly and efficiently.

Here are a few popular ways enterprises use Google scraping to advance their strategies:

  • Competitor tracking and analysis
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Business research and lead generation

Now that it’s clear what scraping is and why you should consider engaging in it, let’s move on to the main purpose of this article – uncovering effective ways to avoid getting blocked while scraping Google.

8 ways to avoid getting blocked while scraping Google

Anyone who’s ever tried web scraping knows – it can really get difficult, especially when there’s a considerable lack of knowledge about best web scraping practices and the importance of performing it responsibility.

Thus, here’s a specially-selected list of tips to help make sure your future web scraping activities are successful:

Rotate your IPs

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 encourages the target to think that you might be a threat.

IP rotation, on the other hand, makes you look like a number of different users which significantly decreases the chances of running into a block. To avoid using the same IP for different requests, you can try using the Google Search API that has a proxy rotator built in it. This will give you a chance to scrape the majority of targets without issues and ensure a 100% extraction success rate. 

Set real user agents

A user agent, which is a type of HTTP request header, is what contains information about the type of browser and the operating system and is included in an HTTP request sent to the web server. Some websites can examine, easily detect, and block suspicious HTTP(S) header sets (aka fingerprints) that do not look similar to fingerprints sent by organic users. 

Thus, one of the essential steps you need to undertake before scraping Google data is to put together a set of organic-looking fingerprints. This will make your web crawler look like a legitimate visitor. To simplify your search a little bit, check out this list of most common user agents

It might also be smart to switch between multiple different user agents, so there isn’t a sudden increase in requests from the user agent to a specific website. Similar as with IP addresses, using the same user agent would make it fairly easy to identify and block.

Use a headless browser

Some of the trickiest Google targets may take into account such things as extensions, web fonts, and other variables that can be tracked by executing Javascript on the end-user’s browser. They use them for the purpose of understanding whether the requests are legitimate and come from a real user. 

In order to successfully scrape data from this type of websites, you will probably need to use a headless browser. It will work exactly like any other browser, except a headless one will not be configured with a Graphical User Interface (GUI). This means that a headless browser will not have to display all the dynamic content necessary for user experience, which, eventually, will prevent the target from blocking you while scraping data at high speed. 

Implement CAPTCHA solvers

CAPTCHA solvers are special services that help you solve puzzles when accessing a specific page or website. They can either be human-based, where real people do the job and forward the results to you, or automatic, where Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are implemented to determine the content of a puzzle and solve it without any human interaction. 

Since CAPTCHAs are very popular among websites that want to determine if their visitors are real humans, it is essential to use CAPTCHA-solving services while scraping search engine data. They will help you to quickly get past those restrictions and, most importantly, allow you to scrape without encountering any issues.

Reduce the scraping speed & set intervals in between requests

While scraping manually is time-consuming, web scraping bots can do that at high speed. However, making requests super fast is not good for anyone – websites can go down due to not being able to handle the increase in incoming traffic, and you can easily get banned for irresponsible scraping.

That’s why distributing requests over time in an even manner is another piece of important advice that experts give when it comes to the topic of avoiding blocks. You can also add random breaks between different requests in order to avoid creating a scraping pattern that can easily be detected by the websites and lead to unwanted blocking. 

Another useful idea that can be implemented in your scraping activities is planning data acquisition. For example, you can set up a scraping schedule in advance and then use it to submit requests at a steady rate. This way, the process will be properly organized, and you will be less likely to make requests too fast or distribute them unequally. 

Detect website changes

As you probably know, web scraping encompasses several essential steps for successfully extracting the desired data, one of which is parsing. This process can be defined as a part of web scraping where raw data is examined to filter out the needed information that can then be structured into various data formats. And, as with all things web scraping, data parsing also encounters issues. One of them is changeable web page structures. 

Websites can’t stay the same forever. They change their layouts to add new features, improve user experience, create a fresh representation of their brand, and much more. And while these changes advance websites’ user-friendliness, they can also cause parsers to break. The main reason for that – parsers are usually built based on a certain web page design, and, in case it goes through a change, a parser will not be able to extract the data you’re expecting without prior adjustments on its side. 

Therefore, you need to be able to detect and oversee website changes. A common way to do that is to monitor your parser’s outcomes: if its ability to parse certain fields drops down, it probably means that the structure of the website has changed. 

Avoid scraping images

It is definitely no secret that images are data-heavy objects. Wonder how this can influence your web scraping process?

First off, because images are heavy, scraping them will require a lot of storage space and an additional amount of bandwidth. What’s more, images are often loaded as bits and pieces of Javascript are executed on a user’s browser. This can make the process of data acquisition more difficult as well as slow down the scraper itself.  

Scrape data from Google cache

Finally, another possible thing you can try in order to avoid getting blocked while scraping is extracting data from Google cache. In this case, you will not have to make a request to the website itself, but rather to its cached copy.

Even though this technique sounds foolproof because it doesn’t require you to access the website directly, you should always keep in mind that it’s a great workaround only for targets that don’t contain sensitive information, which also keeps changing.

Summing up

Google scraping is something that many businesses engage in to extract publicly available data needed to improve their strategies and make informed decisions. However, one thing they should always keep in mind is that scraping requires a lot of work if you want to do it sustainably. This article presented the list of 8 web scraping best practices that can help you find and gather information quickly and efficiently. Use a reliable web scraping tool like Google Search API, follow the mentioned rules in your future scraping activities, and see the positive consequences with your own eyes.  

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