What are the Good Things about Web Scraping?
In this article we’ll quickly go through the idea of web scraping, its main differences from manual data collection, and obstacles that may occur on your way to effective and friendly web scraping.
What is web scraping?
Web scraping is a technique used to extract and collect data from Internet resources. It saves you tons of routine manual work, which would otherwise take days or weeks. That is because you quickly get a whole load of information instead of copy-pasting it. The obtained information is eventually rendered in a more user-oriented format (API, CSV/Excel spreadsheet, etc.) Scraping is increasingly popular, as it helps users access tons of important and interesting information and opens a lot of venues in online business.
The most advanced data extraction tool
Scraping is an advanced instrument for pulling data from websites, as it is time-saving, cost-effective yet somewhat complex. It takes a bit of programming skill and knowledge to scrape a webpage or website. On the other hand, there are a variety of pre-built automated data collection tools for less experienced users.
This works great in cases where one needs to scrape a large website or one from that it is impossible to copy-paste. Once you have learnt the art of web scraping, you can set your scraper to work automatically.
Why scrape it?
As said above, scraping automates the data extraction process. Web scraping is used to extract various types of information, such as (to name a few):
1. Prices and market data
Web scraping is an opportunity to monitor prices. It is the only way to keep track of them because they change all the time and differ greatly even for similar goods, services, assets, etc. Scraping provides real-time data on current prices (including competitors’) and helps to adequately evaluate market conjuncture. This would not be possible with manual data extraction. Also, scraping is increasingly attractive for investors, as they can scrape for companies’ financial statements and check their investment potential.
2. Contact information
There is hardly a better way to collect users’ emails, phone numbers, etc. than web scraping. You can get the needed number of contacts and file them in a spreadsheet over seconds. This works great for international businesses, where employees are scattered around the globe and there is a need to contact one immediately. Thus you can get a good number of leads over a brief period of time and keep your business ticking for lifetime.
3. Product descriptions
Scraping is very convenient for obtaining product descriptions. There may be scores of items even within just one category, so hand-picking all of them would be extremely tedious. A decent scraping tool can help you build a database of items and supply each one with a brief description. This makes it easier for you to make a final decision.
4. Sports betting information
Many gamblers use scraping tools to extract data on players’ statistics. It helps them draw conclusions and feel more confident when betting on their favorite players.
5. Customer sentiment
All website owners wonder what other say about their goods and services. However, pulling customer feedback from a bunch of websites at a time would be tiresome and not effective at all. Again, the advantage of web scraping is that you can render tons of customer feedback (both positive and negative) on your spreadsheet.
With a scraping tool at hand, these and many other types of data can be obtained and analyzed in a matter of seconds. Today, quick data extraction and processing are absolute must-have parts of any successful business!
Scraping implies a degree of intrusion into a website, which not everyone accepts as a friendly act. Therefore, steps should be taken to minimize or eliminate the negative consequences of such an intrusion and make websites want to share data with you. These include:
· Checking the robot.txt file – a text file that is created by a webmaster and contains instructions for robots. Particularly, it instructs website crawling software on how to detect and handle content and other website elements. Also, it permits or forbids robots to scrape specific website elements.
· Limiting the number of requests per second is important, because it prevents overloads. Some website owners would not mind if someone scrapes their sites. However, they do so providing that the scraper takes steps to reduce the number of requests and keep the server running smoothly. If the scraper fails to do so, a website may block access to its data.
· Compliance with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which was accepted by the EU parliament and mostly concerns the scraping of personal data, which includes names, email addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, bank details, etc.
Data extraction is practiced widely around the globe, although it is still pretty much of a grey area. Prior to scraping, please, make sure that it is not forbidden by your local law or by the website you are scraping.
Web scraping service Or, there’s another way to make scraping easier. Outsource it to one of the web scraping service companies, such as FindDataLab. No routine with the code – at the end, you’ll get a dataset in a format of your choice, tidy and ready to integrate with other bus