As your content on the internet gets more and more popular, it’s easy to find that someone has been scraping your content without your knowledge or permission. A recent study found that web scraping software will have explosive growth in the coming years, so you need to start protecting your company against them today.
In this article, we tell you how to block web scraping tools and make your website a better, safer place.
What is a web scraper?
A Web Scraper is a piece of software that takes information from websites and saves it in a spreadsheet or database.
It retrieves information by using APIs and it’s usually used for research or data entry purposes but sometimes it’s used to generate fake or spam web content.
Scrapers are often misused on websites including the entertainment industry, which can lead to the spread of harmful content. This type of content usually comes from automated bots rather than humans.
Web scrapers have a wide range of uses, including data mining, website development, marketing research, and site maintenance. They can monitor websites for changes or find content that needs to be updated and removed.
Scraping tools may also include features like extraction, search, and navigation controls for when the user wants to save or change different elements of the website’s content separately.
What are the best blocking web scraping tools and methods?
Properly implement robots.txt file
For websites that want to keep their site content private, they can use robots.txt file.
This is a file on the website which tells search engines what content they cannot crawl and index. It is essential for securing your site from being indexed or crawled by search engines and for blocking web scraping tools.
Implementing a robots.txt file can help you secure the content of your site and make sure that bots don’t have access to it without authorization.
You’ll be able to create a robots.txt file that blocks all bots attacking your site while still allowing Googlebot and other search engines access to what they need without any problems.
Creating this file is easy with FileZilla or CuteFTP and it will only take a few minutes of work.
Use a No-Index meta tag
A meta tag is a type of metadata that helps search engines determine the content of your website and how to rank it. A meta tag can be used to block crawlers from indexing a specific page on your site.
Many sites have found a use for no-index tags so they don’t appear in the search engine results pages. This means when you search for something, the website will not be visible in the results and you can only find it by clicking through to it.
Monitor new user accounts with high levels of activity
Web scrapers steal information from unsuspecting businesses without their knowledge or consent in order to sell it on for a profit. A strong method in blocking web scraping tools is to protect your business against them by monitoring user accounts.
You are looking out for accounts with high levels of activity and no purchases who are trying to access your site for unauthorized purposes.
Detecting unusually high volumes of product views
There are a few ways to detect spam or suspicious activity on your website including high view rates of products, SPAM comments, and too many clicks.
Some tools you can use to detect spam that includes:
- Site reputation monitoring software
- A/B testing tools like Optimizely and Google Analytics
Enforcing site terms and conditions
Site terms and conditions are meant to protect the website owner from the actions of those who use their website.
These terms and conditions outline what is allowed on the website, what is not allowed, and how users should behave while using the site.
As part of blocking web scraping tools, you can add a notice at the bottom of your Homepage on the website that explains how terms and conditions work in general. It should also include a “please tick here to agree” box to ensure it’s a human on your site and not a bot.
Enforcing site terms and conditions is important because it helps protect websites from malicious web scrapers who exploit their content for monetary gain without authorization.
Installing SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates on your website
SSL is a security extension that masks the communication between your browser and website. This is what protects users’ sensitive personal information from getting out of your website and keeps them safe when browsing the internet.
SSL certificates are an important tool in any business’s digital arsenal because they can help prevent cyberattacks and reduce the risk of data breaches which could result in fines or even ruin a company’s reputation.
They should be high on your list for blocking web scraping tools.
Installing CAPTCHA on your website for blocking web scraping tools
CAPTCHA is a type of security challenge that websites use to prevent automated software from accessing their content without permission and is widely used by big brands and companies on their website to prevent scraping software from retrieving data.
Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are using CAPTCHAs because they are effective in stopping spam bots (software that automatically collects information from websites).
A CAPTCHA works by using a series of distorted text and images that are designed to be difficult for computers but easy for humans. These so-called “tests” are often used on websites as a way to prevent web scraping.
If your website is susceptible to web scraping, it might be time for you to consider installing CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA alternatives on your site.
Set website cookies to have restrictive permissions
Cookies with restrictive permissions are becoming quite popular in the digital advertising industry. A restriction is a feature of cookies that restricts access to certain websites or parts of websites.
Many digital agencies use these restrictive cookies on their website to prevent web scraping tools from stealing their advertisers’ data. They also use them on their clients’ websites to prevent any unauthorized information from leaking out of the company’s network.
Cookies with restrictive permissions are often used on ad networks and content management systems, especially those that sell ad space, which would otherwise compromise the integrity of their inventory. The majority of online advertising companies now restrict users from selling ads or crawling content without permission.
Web scraping is a popular technique used by hackers to extract information from websites that are meant to be private. It involves using data-scraping software like Screaming Frog, Xenu spider, or Web ScraperPro to extract content from websites without user consent.
Web scraping tools have become an easy way for hackers to access sensitive information that they can later use to repurpose your work.
You have worked hard on your website’s content and you don’t want to have it stolen in this way. Use the methods and tips above and you will be in a stronger position to block web scraping tools.