5 ways Web scraping is hurting your business

The bot threat is rising, and every website is potentially at risk. Among the many fraudulent activities conducted by bots, Web scraping might be the most insidious, and the most hurtful for many websites. But the knowledge on the subject is still limited.

“What the heck is Web scraping?”, you may ask. The idea isn’t new, and many businesses have built their online presence on it. Across the Web, smart automated lines of code crawl thousands and thousands of pages, harvesting and storing their content in order to republish it elsewhere. Meaning that what you produce, what your business relies on to exist, gets duplicated through the Internet, without your knowledge or consent.

Web scraping has a variety of purposes. For some, it’s an easy way to create a product catalogue, including prices and offers specific to your website. For others, it’s a mean to attract visitors by reproducing copyrighted articles illegally. The basic idea is that Web scraping allows fraudsters – or legitimate business looking for a quick growth hack – to benefit from your own hard work.

And they won’t even thank you for it.

“Understanding Web scraping might not only help you find ways to protect your business, it may be a way to create new revenue streams for your website .”
Fabien Grenier, Cofounder & CTO at DataDome

Depending on what your business is offering to the world, the activity of Web scrapers poses a series of tangible problems, that few people actually know about

Those key issues are directly impacting your ability to provide your customers with the service you’ve been dreaming of:

Web scraping activity can be identified by massive numbers of hits sent to your website in very little time. This causes saturation on your servers, making your pages load slower for your legitimate customers. The longer your page takes to load, the more likely your visitors are to bounce away before your content even appears. And we know that Google isn’t too keen on slow pages when it comes to SERP (Search Engine Ranking Pages) visibility.

When bots access your website and produce pirated versions of your content, your ability to climb up the pages of a Google search is jeopardised. For small, growing websites, good SEO is still the best way to get through to your customers. Unfortunately, those small, growing websites are the most exposed to malicious bot traffic, with up to 80% of their traffic being generated by automated programs.

Competitive intelligence

As we noticed when analyzing traffic for one of our partners, Web scraping can be carried out by one – or more – of your competitors. By crawling your pages, they are able to exploit your product listings or specific prices and offers to duplicate them on their website. What should be yours exclusively suddenly benefits others.

As we noticed when analyzing traffic for one of our partners, Web scraping can be activated by one – or more – of your competitors. By crawling your pages, they are able to exploit your product listings or specific prices and offer to duplicate them on their website. What should be yours exclusively suddenly becomes beneficial to others.

You hold the rights to the content on your website, and Web scrapers are meant to republish it somewhere, depriving you from visitors on your pages and, finally, from potential sales and ad revenue. Unfortunately, Web scraping operates in a legal grey area – and there isn’t much you can do to publicly address the issue.

Some scrapers might actually be a new revenue opportunity for your business... if you know about them! If you’re a content producer, your website is probably crawled daily by Business Intelligence or Digital Marketing tools scanning your articles for competitive purposes – and so far, they’ve been doing this freely. Understanding who’s looking at your content and sharing it with managers across the World may help you find a way to monetise those data streams – and we’ll gladly help you figure this out.

Bot threat is rising, and represents a whole new aspect of cybersecurity the world has been ignoring. Try our free demo and see how your business could benefit from a tailor-made protection against the bot threat!

Try DataDome for free for 30 days

  • Create and activate your account in less than a minute, with no commitment and no credit card
  • Install the DataDome module on your website in less than ten minutes
  • Access your dashboard
  • Discover all the bot activity happening on your site: Good bots, bad bots and monetizable bots!