We always believe that the internet is completely public and available to everyone. But this is not the case. There are all kinds of limitations in the online environment, with geoblocking being one of the most common types. Some countries are severely censored, but some other restrictions are global and affect a lot of people.
We’re often unaware that we’re being blocked and think that it’s all just some “error.” Geoblocking can mean restricted access to a video on YouTube, streaming services like Netflix, or a particular website. In other words, your location dictates what you can and cannot see online.
Users from countries like the UK or US can access most of the online content, but some countries aren’t that lucky.
Geo-restrictions and why brands use it
Geo-restrictions, geo-filtering, or geoblocking are standard practices that companies use to restrict people from certain countries from using their services or accessing their content. The blocks work by pinpointing the user’s geographical location, and this is where the name comes from.
A typical example is when users from Cuba can’t access content from the US. There are many different reasons why brands use geoblocking. Some companies simply focus on specific target markets and don’t want to waste resources offering content to people who aren’t their clients.
Some brands simply want to save up on hosting as they have a lot of traffic coming from countries that aren’t potential leads. In some cases, countries simply censor services or online resources like China. Netflix, for example, provides different content in each country while blocking its services altogether to certain countries.
How does it impact data scraping?
All of this is debatable. Some people think that this is completely ok, but they are probably those who come from countries that aren’t blocked that often. On the other hand, online users from certain countries simply face a lot of blocks without any real reason.
But it’s not just about hurting individuals. Geoblocking can also be harmful to companies that aren’t doing anything wrong. Lots of companies today use web scraping for a variety of reasons. This includes pricing intelligence, business intelligence, market research, development, and much more.
Geoblocking makes scraping projects a lot more complicated. Since scraping is all about going through multiple sites to get valuable public data, geoblocking prevents these tools from accessing the data. In other words, they can’t reach the target content.
At the same time, websites that offer different content based on location might also hide relevant content you are scraping for. This could lead to inconsistent results or simply gathering irrelevant data.
How do brands avoid it?
Bypassing geo-blocking isn’t that difficult. However, there are a lot of unpredictable ways you can do this. Typical users reloading a page a couple of times while using a VPN isn’t a big deal. But when it comes to web scraping, you need to make sure that your scrapers will reach their destination every time.
If not, then your whole project will be a waste. Luckily, since geoblocking works by blocking content based on your IP address, some solutions are specifically made for dealing with this issue. They are called web proxies. These servers act as an intermediary between users and web resources.
They send out requests on behalf of online users and give them new IP addresses for these actions. In other words, the proxy server generates an IP that isn’t blocked and instantly provides access. For example, a US proxy used by someone from Cuba can let them access all the content from that country.
Types of proxies suitable for the job
There are many types of proxies out there. Not all of them are designed to bypass geo-filtering successfully. Some of them focus more on anonymity and cybersecurity, but this is a topic for another day.
When it comes to unblocking content and enhancing your scraping process, some of the best types are residential and rotating proxies. Residential proxies give users a real IP address that is tied to a physical location. In other words, a residential US proxy will provide you with a server in the country to handle your requests.
This makes it impossible to get blocked because the IP is genuine. On the other hand, rotating proxies are also very effective. These proxies generate new IP addresses each time you visit a unique URL. In other words, your scraper will always appear as some new user.
Scraping has become essential for lots of companies. Gathering valuable data is crucial in modern business as it allows organizations to make informed strategic decisions. We hope this post helped you understand how proxies can help you deal with online blocking.
What’s even better is that you can find proxy services specifically designed and managed for scraping needs. Take the time to find a reliable proxy and avoid free options.