Web scraping is not a new term. Businesses and marketers use it to gather vital information about the market, such as prices and competitor behavior. With the data collected, they can create better marketing campaigns, make decisions regarding product creation and gain a competitive edge.
Sounds easy, but it requires proper planning. You need to invest in the right web scraper and other tools, depending on your needs. You will need to monitor the process to ensure that the data collected is relevant to your goal, and not just wasting resources.
So, what is web scraping?
Web scraping is an automated internet research technique that involves requesting a web page on the browser and extracting information from it. The extraction process consists in parsing the web pages, collecting the required information, and copying the data into a file in the computer or spreadsheet for further analysis.
For instance, a web scraping task could involve collecting contact information of individual companies on the web.
Although web crawling and web scraping are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference.
Web crawling involves finding websites from seed URLs. The crawler goes through all the web pages on the websites. It follows links within the pages to find other web pages and extracting all kinds of data. Web scraping, on the other hand, is a more focused process. It involves collecting structured information from specific websites.
What Benefits does Web Scraping Hold for Businesses?
Here are a few ways a business can benefit from web scraping.
You can use web scrapers to generate more leads through thorough data extraction. Web scraping allows you to collect contact information from potential customers and brand representatives fast. Identifying major attributes in the process such as age, sex, and location gives you more accurate results.
Manually extracting this information through the copy and paste method cannot be fully exhaustive.
You Can Understand Your Customer Better
The market is competitive, and fulfilling your customers’ needs and taking advantage of your competitors’ weaknesses puts you ahead.
You can use web scraping to gather data on consumer behavior, their likes and dislikes based on product reviews, and the prices your competitors are offering. You can then improve on your product to fill the gap in the market.
SEO optimization is what every brand needs to be visible on search engines and draw traffic to their website.
By web scraping, you can study the behavior of top brands in your niche and know what they are doing right. You can gather data on the keywords they are optimizing, the ads they are running, the type of content they are posting, and where they are posting it.
5 Tips for Successful Web Scraping
You can only experience these benefits if you apply the right techniques.
1) Only Collect What You Need
Whatever your purpose for web scraping is, stay true to it. If you are after prices or contacts, collect only that. Taking the information you do not currently need will take storage space, waste time, and bandwidth. Data hoarding makes it hard to find what you need fast. It can also be a source of distraction from your original plan.
2) Choose the Right Framework
Choose scraping software that offers the most versatility. You should be able to control the process, especially when scraping at scale. An open source framework will provide the flexibility that you need. You can easily customize it to meet your current needs.
3) It Should Be Flexible Enough to Evolve with Trends
Changes occur all the time. Website designs change, and there is always a new trend on effective web scraping techniques. Your web scraper should be capable of keeping up with the changes. A simple tweak of your scrapers should have them working optimally even when the rules change.
4) Carry Out Tests Regularly
You want to be sure that your web-scraper is working optimally at all times. Collecting misleading data could have you making wrong decisions, which is bad for business. Manually examining the data collected on a regular basis can be wearisome, but at the same time, you wouldn’t want to depend on misleading data.
5) Have the Right Tools
You need the right tools for successful data scraping. Choose the right database. The more data you harvest, the more storage space you will need. NoSQL, for instance, is designed to handle large sets of distributed data. Don’t forget to invest in enough proxies. They will keep website owners from detecting the scraper and blocking the process.
Every business can benefit from effective web scraping. It is an effective technique for better SEO optimization, developing a successful lead generation strategy, and understanding market needs better.
Ensure that you have tools that cover your needs and are flexible. Carry out regular checks to confirm that you are consistently collecting quality data, and losing none due to inadequate storage.