Successful review monitoring is pegged on circumventing IP tracking and blocking, among other anti-scraping techniques. In the online world, the circumvention is the reserve of proxy servers and virtual private networks (VPNs), but the former reigns supreme for web scraping applications. It is no wonder that proxy servers are used in conjunction with web scraping software.
At the same time, many types of proxy servers exist, each of which is suitable for a given application. This complicates the process of choosing the right proxies for review monitoring or web scraping.
Nonetheless, as with other cases, knowledge is power. This article intends to give you precisely this by providing guidelines that will help you determine the right type of proxies for review monitoring applications. Read on for more.
Proxies and Review Monitoring
Review monitoring is a subcategory of web scraping that focuses on tracking and harvesting data containing customer reviews. Being a subset of web scraping – the process of extracting data from websites – review monitoring relies on scraping bots. You can find more information on the Oxylabs website about review monitoring.
Notably, the scraping bots retrieve data from one webpage at a time. Thus, to go through websites containing hundreds of web pages, they have to make as many web requests as possible. But this creates a challenge.
Websites are designed for use by human beings. And a human can only do so much as regards the number of requests within a given period. Naturally, when websites receive too many requests from a single source, as indicated by the IP address, they interpret them as originating from a bot. The recourse for them is blocking the IP address or deploying some restrictive techniques such as CAPTCHAs.
This is usually the case with web scraping bots. By making too many requests, they call attention to themselves. Websites subsequently flag their activity as suspicious and even block the IP address. In effect, the IP ban renders the web scraping bot powerless as it cannot extract data further from the website in question. Supposing multiple websites do this, it then means that future review monitoring exercises or even routine website visits will not be possible.
These reasons often lead to two recommendations whenever you’re tracking and monitoring customer reviews using scraping bots. First, the bot’s online behavior should mimic that of human beings. Second, the scraping application should be used in conjunction with a proxy server.
The second option is preferred. However, not every type of proxy server is suitable for review monitoring.
Types of Proxy Servers
What is a proxy server? A proxy server is an intermediary through which all web requests from a user pass before being directed to the target website.
In essence, the proxy server breaks direct communication between the user’s browser (computer) and a web server. It also introduces anonymity by hiding the original IP address and assigning a different IP address.
It is important to note that various proxy servers operate differently, thereby implying that several types of proxies exist. You can use the following classes for review monitoring.
A rotating proxy works by assigning different IP addresses within the same browsing session. It does this by either giving every web request a new IP address or changing the assigned IP address after some time.
A residential proxy server routes a user’s web requests via an existing person’s computer, in effect, promoting an unmatched level of anonymity. In such a setup, the website interprets the web requests as coming from an existing, real user.
Also, residential IP addresses, which are the backbone of residential proxies’ operations, come from ISPs (Internet Service Providers). This means that residential proxies are less likely to get blocked by target websites.
Powerful data center servers power datacenter proxies. For this reason, they are very fast and can accommodate many users. But a downside exists. The datacenter proxies are based in the cloud because data center servers generate virtual datacenter IP addresses.
The lack of real devices – allied to real users and not data centers – backing datacenter proxies increases their vulnerability because web servers easily block them on suspicion of being bots. However, users can get around this problem using proxy management solutions.
Such solutions combine the characteristics of two types of proxy servers, giving rise to the rotating datacenter proxy.
Rotating datacenter proxies are the best for review monitoring. They are cheap and fast. Furthermore, the proxy management solutions, which dictate their operations, guarantee seamless and smooth review monitoring.
On the other hand, rotating residential proxies are also ideal. However, they’re an overkill since the high anonymity level they provide can be obtained from the rotating datacenter proxies using advanced proxy management solutions.
You can also combine both residential and datacenter proxies to get all the benefits for a smooth review monitoring process.