How To Get Around Blocking Using Headers In Web Scraping
Artur Cheremisin
Artur Cheremisin Published: 2023/12/14

Web scraping isn’t easy when websites work to track our patterns and behaviors. Authorization headers source credentials and authenticate users’ IP addresses to protect resources. Red flags can lead to blocks and bans stopping you from accessing the site again. But there are ways around this.

The right headers can make a big difference when getting past blocks that do not allow you to scrape Reddit or other sites. So, what are headers used for, which ones should you implement in your plan, and how else can you create natural-looking requests?

Why You Need To Inspect Browser Behavior

Inspecting browser behavior is a brilliant way to gain data insights into how websites function. This gives us a better appreciation for building code and website design while allowing us to test out front-end features.

The inspect element is a developer tool you can find in a range of browsers. Accessing it lets you view the HTML and CSS source codes of web content to gain further insights about a website and its content. You can also edit the code temporarily to include your own edits to the files. These won’t last long, and the site will reset to the default setting when you reload the page.

The Order Of Request Headers

Many people new to website scraping with Java or other tools will ask the same question: what does a header look like? There are details to consider to make sure you gain access with ease, such as the placement of all slashes and commas. Without this, you could get blocked due to improper configuration. Sites are always on the lookout for red flags where requests aren’t precise or natural.

You also need to consider the order of your headers. You should start with the general-header fields first. You can then set the request-header or response-header. Request headers go into more detail about the type of information requested while the response headers give information about the location or server. You can then get more specific with the entity-headers, such as Content-Length, Content-Type, and Content-Language.

Common Standard Headers

There are many different browser headers out there to get acquainted with. For example, you will deal with HTTP headers that describe the payload of an HTTP message. Some headers are more common than others. The Accept header is an essential tool, as as the more specific Accept-Encoding and Accept-Language headers. The latter is essential for telling the server which language the client needs.

It is also a good idea to use the header Upgrade-Insecure-Requests so you can bypass websites that block web scraping. It helps make the requests header look more authentic. You can also rotate your User-Agent header with your standard headers to stay undetected when providing information about your software.

Additional Standard Headers

You may want to use a Sec-Fetch header when performing a data aggregation of security details when using request headers. These are useful for covering tracks and improving authentication. The Sec-Fetch-Site header, for example, looks at the origin of the request. Some users also create referer headers to look at browsing history and natural content requests. This lets us handle any issues in scraping patterns that could come across as inauthentic.

What Are X Headers?

Finally, there is the option to set additional X headers to gain further insight and access to websites. Many websites use Javascript front ends now and can customize their headers further. This can allow for greater functionality and better analytics. X-headers can help provide further information on web-scaping. As the name suggests, these are prefixed with an x-. While they aren’t as common as the other web scraping tools, there are some popular ones, such as x-api-key and x-csrf-token. This one deals with cross-site forgery and determines whether requests come from the same source.

Good Practice When Using Browser Headers For Website Scraping.

All these tools and tips are designed to make it easier to evade those trying to block scraping. Yet, you still need to be careful to use these tools carefully and respectfully. A site that requests multiple headers with no thought or care is at risk of not only getting caught but crashing the site and ruining it for everyone. That is why it is important to use randomized delays to improve authentication and to reduce the volume to give another user a chance.

Remember, the more effort you put into perfecting your headers and understanding the different options, the better the chance of bypassing IP address blocking or other restrictions. Learn from any mistakes, take advantage of additional tools, and keep tweaking your process for improved success.

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