Why do you need to think of web scraping?
All businesses have ventured into the web to branch-out their marketplace.
Gone are the days when job seekers have to write a handwritten resume and send it across companies to bank a job. Products as cheap as a pencil to higher appliances are readily available on the internet as the consumers get their product delivered on their doorstep. From apartments to even bikes are now available online for rentals and contracts.
But how do we collect data from the web? Copy-pasting right?
Copy-pasting web data
Most of the modern day websites are more inclined to the aesthetic aspects. This manual copy-pasting and automating the extraction process is a tiresome, time-consuming, and susceptible to human error.
Human labor is needed to collate all the required data through manual search. This person needs to dedicate his/her time exclusively for the research purpose. Furthermore, organizing all the collated data is a repetitive, tiresome process that consumes a lot of time and susceptible to human error.
Moreover, most of the modern day websites are more inclined to the aesthetic aspects. Thus making manual copy-pasting a more complicated process.
The web is fast growing. There are over 5 billion pages indexed on the web.
How do we remove the monotony and fetch massive volumes of reliable data in a consistent manner? Well, that’s where web scraping comes into play.
What is web scraping exactly?
Web scraping is a relatively old term that has been in practice even before the invention of the web, but less acknowledged.
Web scraping is an automated process of requesting a web document and collecting limited or specific information from it for analysis and future use. It is a high and efficient form of manual copy-pasting as it reduces the resources – labor and time and extracts information even from modern day websites. To accomplish this automated extraction – bots or scrapers that are basically programs are written and are deployed in the internet pool.
Web scraper is basically an API that automates the whole process of groveling the web for necessary data, copying only the relevant information, and furnishing it in user – preferred format like CSV, Excel, JSON, or central local database.
Web scraping Vs web crawling
Scrapers and crawlers are the two buzzwords which are used conversely as both work for one function – to extract data from the web.
Web crawling or spidering is the process of deploying crawlers or spiders to locate the information on the WWW. This is done using the hyperlinks used in the web and a database of the link is built and indexed for ranking purpose. Hence the name indexing.
Crawlers crawl the HTML pages and all the information from the web like page content, images, styles, etc.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and some agencies that have a huge and extensive use of internet utilize web crawlers. This is done to increase the efficiency of search results.
Example: Crawling an eCommerce website like Amazon to collect information about all the products listed across the site.
Web scraping or web harvesting is an automated process of collecting only specific data from the web through an HTTP request, organizing the collated data in a structured format, and delivering it for future analysis and repurpose.
Scrapers are used for automatic parsing of the web and unearthing only the required data from a particular webpage. Hence the name data mining.
All digital businesses use web scraping to boost their business in the marketplace.
Example: Scraping an Amazon search result page to collate all the product listed for a particular keyword search.
The evolution of web scraping with the web.
The web is a massive inventory of information connected together with the help of hyperlinks.
Even before the invention of the web, Tim Berners-Lee collated a database called ENQUIRE. Often known as the predecessor to the WWW, ENQUIRE is a collection of people and software tools built on hypertexts and bidirectional links.
This small database collection let to the idea of the web. In March 1989, he proposed to have “a large hypertext database with typed links”. So basically one could say scraping laid the foundation for the web.
Take a look at the first website ever built.
One could see that the first page was merely a static database of few other web pages connected together using the hyperlinks.
Let’s see how scraping evolved along with the web over the years.
1980-ENQUIRE – a collection of people and software tools built on hypertexts and bidirectional links.
1987 – Hypercard – a collection of images, allowing the user to add images in the form of a card and connecting to the main card.
1989 – World Wide Web(WWW) idea sparks as “a large hypertext database with typed links”.
August 6, 1991 – First web page goes live on the web.
June 1993 – World Wide Web Wanderer – First automated spider or web agent or web robot – measuring the size of the web and capturing individual URLs into Wandex, the first web database.
December 1993 – JumpStation – First crawler-based web search engine – Laid the foundation for present-day search engines by crawling the web pages through a linear search algorithm.
2000- Web API crawler built by Salesforce and eBay – alter the method to fetch the appropriate public data.
2004 – Beautiful Soup – an exclusive scraping library in Python – facilitates parsing of the HTML content from the webpage. This allowed even amateur programmers to start developing codes to retrieve data.
Why scraping? How scraping web data is benefiting in different areas.
If you are an established organization running an online business or a young and aspiring entrepreneur taking up your business online, you need to consider spending some bucks for scraping.
Now, let’s see how scraping shapes different segments of your business.
- Market analysis and research
- Content aggregation
- Business directory aggregation
- Competitive Intelligence
- Listings aggregation
Market analysis and research
All types of the marketplace, be it eCommerce industry or recruitment industry or tourism industry, are continuously and rapidly evolving. Manual exploration is an exhausting process.
With the help of scraping services, all the essential information are not only fetched in a structured format but the frequency at which the data has to be collected can also be set.
Be informed on what is the motivating factor behind your customers and helps you align your product or service according to your target audience. Categorize your customers based on their demography, behavior, and geography to reach out to them quicker. Align your services with the evolving market trend.
- The behavioral and sentimental analysis of your customers helps you relate to your customers and increase customer experience by scraping customer reviews from the eCommerce sites and shopping portals
- Predict what your customer is likely to buy by scraping his current wishlist or cart and his past orders
- Scrape data from Twitter and other business networking sites to see the market and place your products and services accordingly
- Scrape reviews and data from social media like facebook, twitter for effective brand building as 86% of consumers read reviews before collaboration
- Scrape business networking sites collaborate and socialize with similar business
- Scrape comments from top websites to know about a particular service
The face is the index of the mind. Likewise, your website is the index of your business.
The first step your client – an enthusiastic customer or a potential jobseeker does is visit your website when they think of any business association. Three-fourth of the audience reach your website only through search engines.
Having your website on top plays an important role in getting more audience for your product or service. For this, your site needs to have rich content that aligns with the market trend. Having the appropriate content on your website creates more venue or space for more people to visit your website and develop a reputation.
- Scrape blogs, case studies, and other resources from leading enterprises and enrich your website content.
- Scrape keywords of your competitors to increase organic search result – SERP.
- Scrape job titles from job boards to attract more potential candidates.
- Find out the latest news and hashtags in your business field and build content on those.
- Bring more life to your content by scraping images related to your content.
Business Directory Aggregation
To achieve, work alone. But to succeed, work together.
For any business to grow you need to have a larger customer base. Scraping can be done to find prospective leads and build effective collaboration with them to increase the customer base.
- Scraping business leads from company career sites, emails for the new collaboration
- Scraping social media pages – twitter, facebook for contact details
- Collate prospective leads from registry pages and government sites
- Increase your channel by finding similar competitors/ business profiles, and marketize your content by guest blogging
- Scraping your competitors’ resources will allow you to understand the recent latest hot topics that are in trend and gives an opportunity to talk to their leads/follower
You can’t look at the competition and say you are going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you are going to do it differently. –Steve Jobs
Have a competitive edge by scraping how your competitors are reaching out to more people and provide and strategize your business plan. Know your competitor’s product information like stock availability, selling price, category nomenclature and place your product accordingly to attract more customers.
Scraping data can help decision-makers and business people to address the following questions,
- Who are your competitors?
- How does your business relate to them?
- What are they doing better than you?
- What are you lagging?
Price is a major buying factor in any industry.
Sell your products or services more efficiently by understanding the pricing strategy adopted by your competitor’s. Optimize your prices to increase sales.
- Scraping product pricing information in the eCommerce industry leads you to place your product pricing effectively
- In real estate, optimize your rent or lease or auction rate for an efficient service
- Scrape product listings to increase your ranking in eCommerce sites
Real estate and tourism industries are one such dynamic market with a huge list of data listings. Scrape for a new collaboration with new brokers, agencies, understand how your competitors are selling over you by scraping their prices. Provide seasonal and festival tariffs by analyzing where your customers are going for a specific time.
- Scrape property data like property price, property size, agents from various real estate websites to do a comparative study to raise your sales.
- Scrape airline information like flight schedule, airlines name, duration of the flight, etc., to know where the customers are flying for a particular duration.
- Scrape hotel prices, packages, and facility to make your service stand out.
Your digital journey doesn’t stop with just moving your business online. Any kind of digital business that relies on data needs a basic scraping process to formulate effective business strategies and sustain the digital space. Instead of worrying about the technical complications and brain-draining your workforce consider using scraping services like Scrapeworks.
- Web scraping is an automated process to collate necessary information from the web with the help of software programs called scrapers or bots.
- The scraped data is made available in a clean and structured format with the help of scraping services like Scrapeworks.
- Interestingly, one could say scraping laid the foundation for the web.
- Any business needs to scrape data to gain insights and grow in the marketplace.
- Organizations build a competitive edge through scraping competitors’ reviews, pricing, and positioning.
- Scraping helps businesses to enter into new ventures and collaborate with similar businesses.