Rotating Proxies Explained

Rotating Proxies Explained

More than a quarter of the world’s population regularly shops online — and by 2023, e-commerce will account for about 22% of all retail sales worldwide. Online business is big business, but it’s also a competitive arena where it’s essential to gather as much information as possible about the customers, competition, and trends that affect your bottom line. Getting this kind of business intelligence typically requires collecting data from a multitude of websites in your niche or industry. However, if you’re sending hundreds or thousands of requests to a target site from a single IP address, you risk being blocked, blacklisted, or compromised.

Rotating proxies offer marketers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others a way to scrape sites for data safely and anonymously by cloaking a user’s residential IP address behind a pool of unique, constantly changing IPs that appear to originate from many different users. Rotating proxies are entirely legal to use, and some experts consider them an essential tool for staying competitive in today’s e-commerce world. Here’s how they work and how to use them.

What Are Proxies?

Every device that connects to the Internet is assigned its own unique Internet Protocol (IP) address, and that address identifies it in every request made to a site or server. When a high volume of searches originates from a single residential IP, that can trigger a website’s security systems to flag the searcher as suspicious, block them, or even feed them false information about the site.

That’s the challenge that proxies of all kinds aim to overcome. As the name indicates, a proxy IP stands in for a user’s original IP address in server requests, so that it conceals the actual IP and the user’s identity from view. But not all proxies are equally safe or effective for handling high search volumes.

Proxy IPs can come from multiple sources. Residential proxy IPs are real IP addresses that look and behave like a user’s own IP, making it appear that each search is coming from a different individual. It’s also possible to use IP addresses generated by datacenters, but these artificially created IPs can often be easily recognized and blocked by site security systems.

A static proxy or a one-to-one substitution of your residential IP with another provided by a proxy service will cloak your identity while you browse, but it may not help much for conducting online research that involves crawling many web pages. Repeated requests from the same proxy in a short time period can also result in banning or blocking. Rotating proxies can sidestep this problem.

Rotating Proxies: A Solution for High Volume Searching

Rotating proxy setups, also called backconnect proxies, use a pool of proxy IPs, so that a different address is used for every server request a user makes. That makes it appear as if many different individuals are visiting a site. In that way, users can avoid triggering website security systems while crawling many pages.

Rotating proxies are available through a large and growing number of proxy providers, and they can generally be completely customized. Users can set the frequency of rotating addresses, set a “sticky” IP that remains constant for a set amount of time, opt for randomly generated IPs, or choose ones from a particular country or region of the world. Residential rotating proxies are typically more expensive than those generated by datacenters, but because they’re genuine, original IPs, they’re more stable and better able to avoid detection and blocking.

Why Use Rotating Proxies?

Rotating proxies can be an essential tool for anyone or a company that is tasked with gathering large amounts of data from online sources. While that’s an obvious benefit for marketers, others such as journalists and researchers may also find them useful. Common uses of rotating proxies include:

Social media monitoring. Social media plays an important role in building brand visibility and connecting with customers and clients. Many companies run multiple social media accounts alongside their competitors on social sites like Twitter and Facebook. This allows them to monitor both their own and competitor accounts which can provide a wealth of insights on customer behavior, trends, and more. Because high activity from a single user can violate social media Terms of Service, rotating residential IPs can help marketers and social media managers collect the data they need to drive successful campaigns.

Price checking and comparison. Successful e-commerce requires keeping a close eye on pricing trends and practices. A pool of rotating IPs can allow e-commerce entities to gather data on these factors across many competitor sites, even those outside their geographic region. In that way, users can crawl all available product pages for insights to guide their pricing policies.

SEO applications. Ecommerce companies often perform site audits, a process that analyzes a site’s search visibility in terms of traffic, search engine rankings, and other factors that could affect marketing success. Because a site audit involves crawling every page of a website, the software has to send many requests to the server in a very short time – the kind of situation that raises red flags for security. But that problem is solved with rotating proxies that use a different IP address for every request, no matter how many pages are searched.

Data mining for research. Rotating residential proxies can also be useful in any situation that calls for extracting insights from large amounts of data. Data journalists, reporters who base investigative stories on data and statistics, also generate a high volume of web searches. A rotating proxy setup can help them collect more data from more sites without the risk of being banned. For the same reasons, researchers in a variety of fields might use rotating proxies to gather data for studies and analyses.

Accessing geo-restricted content. Some sites restrict their content to certain geographic regions so that IPs from outside those areas are blocked. Many users encounter geo-restriction when trying to watch a movie or make a purchase from a company in a certain area, but it’s also an issue for retailers looking for data on companies operating in certain parts of the world. With rotating proxies, most providers allow users to specify where the proxies are from, including areas where content is blocked.

Ad posting and tracking. Rotating residential proxies can help businesses track ad campaigns across different networks, and post multiple ads to sites such as Craigslist that prohibit many postings from the same account. A proxy setup can also help advertisers test campaigns by gathering data on user responses and purchases made on all channels or gather data on competitors’ campaigns in the same market.

How To Set Up and Use Rotating Proxies

Anyone can set up and use rotating proxies. For a successful start, create an account with a reputable proxy provider offering rotating residential proxies in a range of plans and options. Your proxies can be managed from your account dashboard, where you can customize behavior such as frequency of rotation and location. Quality proxy providers also provide robust support and options for scaling your proxy plan as your business grows.

In 2020, URDesign Magazine called rotating proxies a “business essential” for the future. Fast, safe, and secure, rotating proxies can help businesses get the intelligence they need to stay competitive in a growing online marketplace.

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