In today’s digital market, where data is considered king, businesses have to walk the length and breadth of the internet to lay hands on a sufficient amount of user data. This data is usually translated and used in making important business decisions. And the most effective way to gather this data is often referred to as web scraping.
Web scraping, therefore, comprises the different techniques and tools employed in the service of curating a large amount of user data from several sources. These sources can be websites, servers, or social media, and they usually contain a promising amount of user data that is supplied every minute and updated regularly.
While data availability is no longer an issue, collecting this data is still a major problem. This is because some data sources do not take kindly to sharing this data with brands that need them and therefore put measures that prevent web scraping.
One of such measures is often called geo-blocking. The mechanism works to read internet protocol (IP) information and disallow certain users from accessing content on the target website if they are identified as emanating from a restricted location. Such discrimination can have dire practical consequences on the blocked users.
What Is Geo-Blocking?
Geo-blocking can be defined as the act of completely or partially restricting devices from selected locations from gaining access to certain content. The mechanism that is often coded into the website tries to read the physical location of the visiting devices and blocks any coming from a specific geographical area.
It is a valid anti-scraping technology that can easily prevent web scraping by targeting locations. While it works to protect the websites, it can disrupt normal operations and business for restricted users.
Why Does Geo-Blocking Exist?
There are several reasons why companies implement geo-blocking techniques; however, the most common ones include the following:
- To protect licensed content
- To prevent copyright infringement
- To prevent certain content from reaching untargeted markets and thereby maximize profit
- To avoid the theft of other brand assets
- For applying tax codes to online purchases in some instances
- To prevent certain activities such as gambling in some parts of the world
The Problem of Geo-Blocking and How It Affects Web Scraping
Companies and governments of some nations often implement Geo-blocking. And while it might benefit the implementing parties in endless ways, it can spell damnation for brands, especially those who depend largely on the internet.
All internet users connect to the internet using what is known as the IP address. The IP address is unique to each user and allows the target website to differentiate users easily and know the correct address to send results. This digital address also carries, along with its many other information, the user’s physical address.
The main job of a geo-blocking technique is to intercept an IP address on the way, read its information and identify which region of the world it is coming from. Once the IP is identified as a restricted location, the user is prevented from going forward. This identification and blocking also ensure that that IP address never visits or accesses the website even in the future.
One practical drawback of this is that it inhibits very important business operations such as web scraping. The data generated during web scraping helps businesses to make an important business decision in an informed manner that produces growth and better results.
Some very important applications of web scraping data include:
- For monitoring brand assets across different digital spaces in other to prevent any form of intellectual property theft
- For monitoring the competition and market trends
- For conducting market research and finding new opportunities
- For setting up price intelligence strategies such as dynamic pricing
- For generating leads and reaching new audience or customers
Altogether, the data those brands collect during web scraping offer the brand the opportunity they require to compete fairly in a global market. However, with geo-blocking on the way, all of these benefits are denied the restricted businesses. They suffer undue disadvantage and may find it impossible to compete or grow.
Solutions to Geo-Blocking
Because of the problems that geo-blocking poses, there is the need to find ways to circumvent it. However, using a proper proxy is considered one of the most effective ways of bypassing geo-blocking. This is because aside from easily bypassing geo-restrictions and granting users unlimited access to any content on the internet, proxies also help automate the process of web scraping while ensuring premium protection and security for the users and their data.
For instance, in trying to access content from a website in France, a brand in China can employ a proxy France and route their request through it. This does not only remove any restrictions but ensures user anonymity and data security as well. If you’re interested in unlocking foreign markets, learn more about the proxy France.
Geo-blocking is a real problem and can greatly affect the growth and progress of any digital company. To minimize blocking and successfully scrape the internet, a brand needs to use a proper proxy as they deliver several other benefits as well.