What headers should I use in my HTTP requests when scraping Zoopla?

When scraping websites like Zoopla, it's important to be respectful of their terms of service and privacy policy. Web scraping can be legally complex, and many websites have clauses that prohibit it. Before proceeding, ensure that you have the legal right to scrape the data you're interested in.

Assuming you have confirmed that you're allowed to scrape data from Zoopla, using appropriate headers in your HTTP requests is crucial for a few reasons:

  1. Avoiding Blocks: Websites might block requests that don't appear to come from a legitimate browser.
  2. Respecting Robots.txt: Always check robots.txt on the target domain to see which parts of the site you're allowed to crawl.
  3. Reducing Server Load: Identify yourself with a custom User-Agent string so that the website can contact you if your scraping is impacting their servers negatively.

Here are some common headers you might use to simulate a standard web browser:

  • User-Agent: Identifies the user agent (browser) that is performing the request. It's good practice to use a legitimate user agent string that corresponds with a real browser.
  • Accept: Tells the server what content types your application can handle.
  • Accept-Language: Indicates the preferred language of the content.
  • Referer: The address of the previous web page from which a link to the currently requested page was followed.
  • Connection: Specifies options that are desired for a particular connection and can be used to indicate that the connection should be kept open.

Here's an example of setting headers for a request in Python using the requests library:

import requests

url = 'https://www.zoopla.co.uk/'

headers = {
    'User-Agent': 'Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/58.0.3029.110 Safari/537.3',
    'Accept': 'text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,image/webp,*/*;q=0.8',
    'Accept-Language': 'en-US,en;q=0.5',
    'Referer': 'https://www.google.com/',
    'Connection': 'keep-alive',

response = requests.get(url, headers=headers)

# Make sure to handle potential errors, like a 404 or a 503
if response.ok:
    html_content = response.text
    # Now you can parse html_content using a library like BeautifulSoup
    print(f'Failed to retrieve the webpage. Status code: {response.status_code}')

And here's an example of setting headers in a JavaScript (Node.js) environment using the axios library:

const axios = require('axios');

const url = 'https://www.zoopla.co.uk/';

const headers = {
    'User-Agent': 'Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/58.0.3029.110 Safari/537.3',
    'Accept': 'text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,image/webp,*/*;q=0.8',
    'Accept-Language': 'en-US,en;q=0.5',
    'Referer': 'https://www.google.com/',
    'Connection': 'keep-alive',

axios.get(url, { headers })
    .then(response => {
        const html_content = response.data;
        // You can now parse html_content using a library like cheerio
    .catch(error => {
        console.error(`Failed to retrieve the webpage. Status code: ${error.response.status_code}`);

While these headers can help emulate a real browser, you should be aware that websites like Zoopla might employ sophisticated techniques to detect scraping activities, including behavior analysis, CAPTCHA challenges, and more. It is crucial to follow ethical scraping guidelines, such as not overwhelming the server with requests, and to comply with the legal requirements. If you need access to large amounts of data from Zoopla, consider reaching out to them directly to see if they offer an official API or data export service that you can use.

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