It should go without saying that data is crucial to a business strategy, especially in today’s economic landscape dominated by issues concerning competition, process efficiency and decreased consumer demand.

Data is the essential tool that can provide solutions to all these issues, and its collection and analysis is fundamental to the success of all businesses. Like many things in life however, quality is more important than quantity, and I believe that quality data is worth its weight in gold.

I’ve overseen hundreds of global businesses from various sectors over the years at Oxylabs, and have noticed some patterns. In this short article, I’m going to share some insights for overcoming data collection challenges so that businesses can get the data needed to meet and surpass their goals.

Web Scraping: The Quest for Quality Data

Web scraping, for those who may not know, is the process of collecting data from a website using applications that scan and extract data from its pages.

The internet is full of publicly available data ready to be collected and analyzed. Web scraping is the process of gathering that data and then analyzing it for patterns and insights useful to meeting the strategic goals of a business.

Web scraping, like a lot of things, is easier said than done. If the internet is like a mine, then an effective web scraping strategy will ensure we get the “gems” of data required to make a real difference in the success of a business strategy.

Overcoming Web Scraping Challenges

The bigger an object, the more complex it can become. Web scraping is no exception. As projects scale up, the complexity increases due to increased volume, additional data sources, and issues with geographical location.

Here are four of the most common challenges I have come across, along with some solutions:

1. IP Blocking

Since the internet is a digital treasure trove of publicly available data, millions of scraping applications continuously navigate the web gathering information. This often compromises the speed and functionality of websites. Servers address this issue by blocking IP addresses making multiple simultaneous information requests, stopping the scraping process in its tracks.


Servers can easily detect “bots” or scrapers making multiple requests, so the solution to this challenge requires the use of proxies that mimic “human” behaviour.

Data center and residential proxies can act as intermediaries between the web scraping tool and the target website. Either choice depends on the complexity of the website, and in both cases the proxies mimic the effect of hundreds or thousands of users making requests for information. Due to the number of proxies in use, limits are rarely exceeded and IP blocks by the server are not triggered.

2. Complex/Changing Website Structure

Web scraping applications scan the HTML of a website in order to download the information required. Since developers all use different structures and coding, this creates a different challenge for scrapers looking to download content from different sites.


There is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to web scraping because each website is different. This challenge can be addressed in two ways:

(1) Coordinate web scraping efforts in-house between developers and system administrators to adjust to changing website layouts, dealing with complexities in real time; or

(2) Outsource web scraping activities to a third-party highly-customisable web scraping tool that will take care of the data-gathering challenges so company resources can be diverted to analysis and strategy planning.

Each solution has its pros and cons, however it’s always helpful to remember that scraping the data is only the first step. The real benefits come from organizing, analyzing, and applying the data to the needs of your business.

3. Extracting Data in Real Time

Web scraping is essential for price comparison websites such as those that compare travel products and consumer goods because the content on these sites is the product of web scraping activities that extract information from multiple sources.

Prices can sometimes change on a minute-by-minute basis and in order to stay competitive, businesses must stay on top of current prices. Failure to do so may result in losing sales to competitors and incurring losses.


Extracting data in real time requires powerful tools that can scrape data at minimum time intervals so the information is always current. When it comes to large amounts of data, this can be very challenging, requiring the use of multiple proxy solutions so the data requests look organic.

Due to the growing number of requests, every operation increases in complexity as it scales up. A successful collaboration with data extraction experts ensures that all the requirements are met so the operation is executed flawlessly.

4. Data Aggregation and Organization

Scraping data can be thought of as research. Effective research techniques make all the difference in collecting the most relevant data.

Recall the research projects from our school days. They required much more than just going to the library and grabbing a stack of random books. The right books were required, and the information in those books needed to be extracted and organized so it could be efficiently used in our projects.

The same can be said for web scraping. Just extracting the data is not enough – it must also be aggregated and organized according to the research goals of the business.


The solution that saves time and money for this challenge requires expert consultation. Experienced data analysts understand where to find the right data and how to effectively collect it.

As I mentioned earlier, quality overcomes quantity. Extracting the data is not enough, it must be strategically sourced, optimally extracted, expertly organized and analyzed for patterns and insights. An expert workflow of this nature leads to better, more accurate and precise data, leading to expert decision-making and successful strategy execution.

A Final Word

Web scraping is a valuable yet complex tool that is absolutely essential for excelling in today’s competitive business landscape.

Over the years I have seen many challenges and believe there is always a solution to any problem so long as there is a willingness to provide support and adapt to constant change.

Data is ultimately a powerful problem solver for many issues that can empower businesses into making the most accurate decisions. By overcoming challenges, businesses can move forward and grow, adding value to their operations and to society overall.