Extracting search engine result data can be valuable for any business that wants to grow via a distinctive SEO strategy. However, as the Internet evolved, extraction has become more difficult due to many countermeasures employed by search engines like Google.
When involved in this endeavor, you need to know how to avoid being blocked while also collecting the most valuable information. This article will explore the many ways a search engine can make automated data scraping a challenging task and how to tackle the main obstacles when targeting valuable SERP data.
Collecting search engine data is not impossible; it may not even be difficult. You just need to have the right tools and know which data to collect and for what purpose. Then, you can type a few keywords and get the necessary data to kickstart your SEO strategy.
Before diving into the most common SERP data scraping issues, let’s look at the benefits of collecting such data.
Automatically collecting SERP data can provide valuable insights for strengthening your SEO strategy. Apart from the obvious advantages of automation, search engine data can offer you the information needed to stay ahead of the competition and come up with outstanding products.
Google is the most popular search engine. So having access to data provided by it is equivalent to collecting keywords and search queries from around the world.
Apart from SEO optimization information, SERP data can provide your business with other valuable insights. For example, you can scrape data about your local competitors through their most successful keywords. Another great use case for gathering search engine information is training machine learning algorithms. By collecting keywords or images from Google, you can amass plenty of data to streamline the training process of your AI.
Now that we know the benefits of SERP data extraction, let’s explore the challenges one encounters when trying to collect this type of information.
Obstacles of SERP data collection
Because most readers are used to Google, we’ll use it as an example for this article. When it comes to scraping, the machine uses a range of methods to discourage any activity of this kind on the results page.
IP limiting and blocking
This is an area where you’ll probably face the most significant challenges when web scraping. But don’t fret. With a great tool and some practice, avoiding IP blacklists and compromised proxies is a cakewalk.
Google easily detects and limits any suspicious bot activity on its search results pages. Unfortunately, SERP data collection falls in this category. The search engine can implement a request limit on specific IPs, block them or even ban them.
The secret here is to use a proxy pool. You can always try using a free one, but Google has its own crawlers and scrapers so, if you found these free proxies, Google did it too and blocked them already. It’s very unlikely that a free proxy pool can get you very far.
Avoiding detection also depends on the type of proxies you are using. Datacenter proxies are affordable but they share a subnet that connects all IPs, which makes them susceptible to blacklisting. Residential proxies are more likely to avoid detection because they are legitimate IP addresses that mirror regular user activity. As long as they have a clean history, they’re your best bet at SERP data extraction.
Google can also limit the request rate of an IP based on geography. A large proxy pool with different locations available can help you to avoid detection better while also offering more options for scraping. SearchData provides requests from over 195 global geolocations.
Google can also use Captchas to detect and block scraping bots. This verification technique can act as a simple math problem or an image identification game. For humans, solving them is simple. However, they are designed to be unreadable for machines.
You can approach the problem by doing two things. You can either use a Captcha solving service or a scraper that has this option built-in. Here’s a great article about how a reliable SERP data scraper should look like.
When solving a Captcha, remember that removing the roadblock doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll also bypass detection. At the end of the day it’s best to have access to a reliable proxy pool, which makes sure you won’t even encounter Captchas.
Google serves its pages to millions of users every day, which provides the engine a large amount of behavior data. This gives its algorithm enough information to learn about unusual activity patterns and detect any unusual behavior on the results pages.
Because of its fast, automated nature, a scraping bot will never act as a regular user. However, with some neat tricks, you can limit the chance of getting detected based on browsing activity.
A predictable scraping method will most likely get detected and banned. A great tip is to include a degree of randomness in your SERP data scraping. To do this, try adding random delays between your requests, especially when the harvested keywords are related.
As with Captchas, keep in mind that these tricks offer better results in combination with a reliable proxy pool. Constantly rotating between several IP addresses helps you avoid detection while also offering more accurate data. With SearchData, you get access to over 100 million IPs worldwide.
Smart SERP data collection
Knowing how to gather as much search results data as possible is essential for a successful SEO strategy. From bypassing Captchas to extracting geographically-specific keywords, you need to have a substantial bag of tricks in order to stay ahead in the ranking game.
This article is just a presentation of the basic problems you are likely to encounter while collecting SERP data. We are sure you’ll discover other roadblocks along the way. But having this fundamental knowledge in mind makes the process of data extraction much more manageable.
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