Scraping is a term that groups together all of the techniques for extracting data from websites with the aim of integrating them into another.
This technique can be practiced for legitimate purposes, but most of the time it is for malicious purposes.
Google uses scraping to index websites, it use information to display weather forecast, hotel rates, bus timings etc. on its pages. To do this, Google’s scrapers robots extract information from specialized sites to show them in their results and we are happy to get the desired and instant results.
The robots of flight comparison sites do the same. They scrape airline websites to extract flight information and prices. This allows you to compare prices between all companies in one place: their own website.
Some scrapers use it to collect data for commercial purposes: telephone numbers, email addresses, company data, etc. in order to carry out direct contact marketing campaigns.
Others use it in an unethical way by copying data from a website to make a copy in order to hijack your audience.
Still others use it to spy on their competitors’ products and post the best deals at home.
Some scraping practices have little impact on your business. Others, on the other hand, can be dramatic by strongly impacting the performance of your website and therefore your sales.
Techniques To Fight Against Scraping Your Website
Do Not Put Sensitive Data On Your Site
The easiest way is not to put any easily accessible information on your website. Scrapers will have little information or just something unusual to scrape.
Use A Format Other Than Text
I recommend that you put your information like phone numbers and other contact details in a format that cannot easily be copied and pasted. You can make images of them, for example, PDFs or infographics.
Terms And Conditions
Clearly indicate in your general conditions of use the use for which you intend your data, what you authorize and prohibit as behavior on your site, particularly in terms of scraping of course, and if necessary, contact you to establish a more in-depth user agreement to use your data. Thus, in the event of a dispute, you can assert this document in your favor.
Install An “Anti-Right Click” Plug-In
It’s not much, but at least you’ll avoid manual copy and paste. The robots will unfortunately be able to easily bypass this small dam.
Use A “Robots.Txt” File On Your Site
Each website usually has a file named “robots.txt”. Its very presence indicates to robot scrapers which pages they are entitled to access and which are not. They give instructions to search engine robots.
By properly setting the functionality of this file, you can prevent spiders from accessing your pages.
CAPTCHA technology is effective. This is a window that opens before accessing a page where you are asked to perform actions that robots are unable to do. This therefore prevents them from accessing it.
Set Up A Secure Connection
You can put a username and a password to access a part of the site where you most sensitive information is located. Robots will not have access to it.
Spot Suspicious Browsing Behavior
Here are the clues that should put you on the hook:
New users visit a lot of pages but never buy.
You see an unusually high number of views of your products by one or more same users.
It is also possible to monitor your competitors. You will look for matches between suspicious activity on your site and the appearance of products and prices similar to yours on its site.
Google Search Console can let you know if your site is a victim of scraping.
Block The IP Addresses Of The Suspicious Users
When you have spotted the IP addresses of suspicious users, you can then limit their access speed or completely block them from accessing your site. Plug-ins do this very well.
Set Up Decoy Pages
To spot if you are a victim of scraping, setting up decoy pages can help. These are pages that a human would never visit. For example, you can put a white on white link in a page that is invisible to a human eye but visible to a robot. When these pages are visited, you can be sure that your site is scraped.
Use A Paid Service To Protect Your Site
If all this is not enough for you, you can of course hire a service provider whose business is web security. They will have other resources for you.