Whether you need to scrape flight data, do a quick price comparison, or even learn how to perform CPR on someone, the internet gives you access to almost any type of information you need – “almost” being the keyword.
Whereas much of the content posted daily on one of over 1.9 billion websites is accessible to all users, there are still many restrictions in place. Some content is only available to users who subscribe to a specific platform; other is only available to those who pay to unlock it.
And other content still is only available to those in specific regions.
Geo-restrictions are the most common form of content blocking. Many US banks, for example, will prevent internet users from other countries from accessing their sites. Even the banks’ clients who are traveling overseas would need a US proxy if they wanted to access their accounts while they’re away.
If you want to access and scrape any type of data you need, regardless of where you’re located, you need to know what geo-restrictions are, how they work, and what you can do to bypass them. Find out below.
What is geo-restricted content?
Geo-restricted content is any type of content only available in specific regions. You’ve likely come across it yourself while browsing random sites – a few YouTube videos that aren’t “available in your country”, a Netflix show that’s reserved solely for US viewers, a government website that gives you the 403 forbidden error if you’re accessing it from a foreign server.
On occasion, geo-blocking is imposed by the site itself. It could be to ensure compliance with country-specific laws and regulations, or it could even be to get you to use your local version of the site – as is the case with Amazon.
However, geo-restrictions could also be imposed by governments. Some do it as media censorship, while others simply want to prevent users from accessing illegal sites, such as gambling websites in some regions.
Regardless of who’s geo-blocking content and why, the process behind it is the same, relying on tracking tech. The site identifies your IP address, uses it to understand the geographical location your internet traffic is coming from, and decides whether to present or block content depending on that information.
Your IP address comes from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), so you can change it. If you change your ISP or connect to a different Wi-Fi, you’ll get a different IP. Still, it will show your device’s location, and a website can use it to geo-block content.
Why is it important to access it when scraping?
Although geo-restrictions are often imposed for a reason, they can be detrimental to your business, especially if you rely on web scraping for your data collection and analysis. If you can’t access geo-blocked content, you won’t have access to valuable data.
Some of the main reasons why you need to bypass geo-restrictions when web scraping include:
- Analyzing the competition
Competitor analysis is one of the main reasons many businesses perform web scraping. Collecting competitor data allows you to understand their strengths and weaknesses, assess market conditions, and even gauge customer sentiments. It’s a critical process that can help you outperform them. However, if your competitors are geo-blocking their content, you might not be able to gather the necessary data about them.
- Analyzing your target markets
If you want to expand to global markets, you need to understand the desires and pain points of your international audiences. You need to learn about their online and offline behaviors, shopping preferences, and interests. You won’t be able to do that if you encounter geo-restrictions.
- Comparing prices
Keeping the prices of your products and services similar to those of your competitors helps you grab the attention of your shared target audiences. If your prices are too high, your target customers might not be able to afford doing business with you, so they’ll turn to the competitors. If they’re too low, youtube target customers could get the impression that your products/services are of lower quality. You need pricing information to remain competitive, especially if you’re trying to break into new markets.
Web scraping also helps you predict trends, keep an eye on the stock market, improve lead generation and marketing strategies, and more. However, it’s only beneficial if you have access to relevant real-time data that’s easily accessible wherever you are.
How proxies can help
If you want to bypass geo-restrictions, the simplest way to do so is with the use of proxies. Acting as intermediaries between you and the rest of the internet, they can help you hide your actual IP address and make you appear as if you were coming from any country where the proxy provider has servers.
Without a proxy, your device (phone, laptop, PC, etc.) needs to communicate directly with a site you’re trying to scrape, allowing it to read its information, including IP information. With a proxy, your device never comes in contact with the site itself. All your traffic is filtered through the proxy, and the site you’re trying to visit only sees the proxy’s information, not your own.
If you’re in Europe, for instance, and use a US proxy, the site you’re trying to visit will see your traffic as if it were coming from the US. You’d seamlessly bypass geo-restrictions and unlock access to any type of data you need. Go to this blog article to learn how to bypass geo-restriction.
Using reliable proxies, you can quickly get around geo-restrictions and scrape information necessary for success. With more and more sites imposing geo-restrictions, proxies are an essential tool for any business that relies on web scraping data to survive.