Though a more targeted form of web scraping, SERP scraping is still impacted by some challenges. These constraints may sometimes hinder the realization of the benefits of SERP scraping. This article will discuss the top 3 challenges impacting web scraping. But before exploring what they are, let’s first explain what SERP scraping is.
What is SERP Scraping?
SERP scraping is a type of web scraping (the process of collecting data from websites using bots) that mainly focuses on harnessing different types of data from Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Given that the average internet user conducts three to four daily searches, you are likely familiar with how a search engine works.
If you key in a term on the search bar (search query) and hit “search,” the search engine displays results in the form of links to different websites. Sometimes, depending on the search query, it will display a featured snippet that includes a list that answers your question. It may even show images or a map. Typically, the search engine will limit the number of results displayed at a time by grouping them according to pages. It is these pages that are known as SERPs. Thus, SERP scraping focuses on retrieving data from these pages.
Benefits of SERP Scraping
From a business perspective, the data indexed and presented by search engines is an actual gem. It can confer competitive advantages. The benefits of SERP scraping include:
- Market research: extracting data from SERPs can provide insights into the number of competitors in a given location, the products and services they offer, and their revenue or profits (if publicly traded).
- Price monitoring: you can extract data on the prices of your competitors’ products and services, enabling you to come up with a robust pricing strategy for your business.
- Search engine optimization: to rank among the results displayed on the first few SERPs, websites implement SEO strategies such as keywords, links (internal and external), use of bullet points, and more. Using a SERP scraper, you can extract data such as the keywords that your competitors, whose webpages the search engine has ranked among the first results, have used. This data, which you will have practically proven works, allows you to come up with an SEO strategy that enables your website to rank on search engines organically. Visit the Oxylabs website to learn more about the SERP Scraper API.
- Reputation monitoring: you can use a SERP scraper to determine what customers are writing about your brand on review sites.
- News updates: by scouring the news tab on search engines, you can extract relevant data that points to emerging issues. This information could help you plan.
Challenges Affecting SERP Scraping
Although it can be considered a boon to businesses, SERP scraping is impacted by challenges. Sometimes, these constraints prevent you from extracting any meaningful data. The top 3 challenges you will likely face when web scraping include:
- Anti-scraping techniques
- Unstructured data
Search engines display city-level and country-level data for some search queries. This means that a user in a country in Europe or Africa sees different results from a user in North or South America. Even more interestingly, the results may differ from city to city (within the same country). This sophisticated form of geo-restriction impedes SERP scraping, especially if you do not use a proxy that changes your real IP address and assigns you a new one.
Search engines monitor the volume of requests from each IP address. If an IP address makes an unusual number of requests within a short period, it is flagged for suspicious activities. As a response, the search engine will display a CAPTCHA/reCAPTCHA puzzle that requires the user behind the requests to prove they are not bots. Failure to solve the reCAPTCHA may lead to an IP ban. CAPTCHAs and IP blocks are two prominent examples of anti-scraping techniques deployed by search engines.
The internet is a trove of information, with a considerable proportion of it having been indexed by search engines. Unfortunately, search engines display this data in an unstructured format. In some cases, they show a featured snippet containing listicles. In others, they simply present the link along with the meta description, or they may just show a map. This varied nature of the presentation, coupled with the unstructured nature of the data, complicates the process of SERP scraping.
Fortunately, you can deal with these challenges using an advanced SERP scraper, as SERP scraping in 2022 is more sophisticated than ever. Such a tool is capable of bypassing geo-restrictions and anti-scraping techniques using proxies. It also parses unstructured data, delivering it in a structured format.
SERP scraping in 2022 is more sophisticated, thanks to the existence of advanced SERP scrapers. These bots are designed to deal with the challenges that would otherwise curtail the process of web scraping. For example, they circumvent issues such as IP blocking, CAPTCHA puzzles, geo-restrictions, and unstructured data.