While the Internet is an ocean of information, it is important for businesses to access this data the smart way for their success in today’s world of cut-throat competition. However, the data on the web may not be open for all. Most sites do not provide an option of saving the data that’s displayed. This is precisely where web scraping services comes into the picture. There are endless applications of web scraping for business requirements. Web scraping provides value addition to multiple industry verticals in a multitude of ways:
Check out some of these scenarios.
There may be a need to analyze and gather data for a particular domain from several websites. This domain can be marketing, finance, industrial equipment, electronic gadgets, automobiles or real estate. Different websites belonging to different niches show information in diverse formats. It is also possible that you may not see the entire data at once in a single portal. The data could be distributed across many pages such as in results of a Google search under different sections. It is possible to extract data via a web scraper from various websites into a single database or spreadsheet. Thus, it becomes convenient for you to visualize or analyze the extracted data.
2. For research purpose
For any research, data is an important part, be it for scientific, marketing or for academic purpose. Web scrapers can help you to collect structured data from various sources on the net with great comfort.
3. For price comparison, market analysis, E-commerce or business
Businesses that cater to services or products for a particular domain must have detailed data of similar services or items that come to the market on a daily basis. Software for web scraping is useful to ensure a constant vigil on the data. All the necessary information can be accessible from various sources by only clicking a few buttons.
4. To track online presence
This is a key aspect of the web scraping where reviews and business profiles on the portals can be easily tracked. The information can then be used to assess the reaction of customers, user behavior, and the product performance. The crawlers can also check and list several thousands of user reviews and user profiles that are quite handy for business analytics.
5. Managing online reputation
It is a digital world today and more and more organizations are showing their keenness to spend resources on managing online reputation. So, web scraping is a necessary tool here too. While the management prepares its ORM strategy, the extracted data helps it to understand the target audiences to be reached and which areas could be vulnerable for the brand’s reputation. Web crawling can reveal important demographic data like the sentiment, GEO location, age group and gender in the text. When you have a proper understanding of these vulnerable areas, you can take leverage out of them.
6. Better targeted advertisements can be provided to the customers
Web scraping tools will not only give you figures but will also provide you with behavioral analytics and sentiments. So, you are aware of the types of audiences and the kinds of advertisements they would prefer to watch.
7. To collect opinion from public
Web scraping helps you to monitor particular organizational web pages from different social networks to collect updates on the views of the people on specific companies as well as their products. Collecting data is extremely important for the growth of any product.
8. Results of search engines can be scraped to track SEO
When the organic search results are scraped, it is easier to track your SEO rivals for a certain search term. It helps you to determine the keywords and the title tags that are being targeted by your competitors. Eventually, you have an idea of the keywords that are bringing in more web traffic to your website, the kind of contents, which are more appealing to the online users and the links that are attracting them. You also get to know the type of resources that will help to get your site a higher rank in the search results.
There can be various ways of accessing the web data. Some of the common techniques are using API, using the code to parse the web pages and browsing. The use of API is relevant if the site from where the data needs to be extracted supports such a system from before. Look at some of the common techniques of web scraping.
1. Text greping and regular expression matching
It is an easy technique and yet can be a powerful method of extracting information or data from the web. However, the web pages then need to be based on the grep utility of the UNIX operating system for matching regular expressions of the widely used programming languages. Python and Perl are some such programming languages.
2. HTTP programming
Often, it can be a big challenge to retrieve information from both static as well as dynamic web pages. However, it can be accomplished through sending your HTTP requests to a remote server through socket programming. By doing so, clients can be assured of getting accurate data, which can be a challenge otherwise.
3. HTML parsers
There are few data query languages in a semi-structured form that are capable of including HTQL and XQuery. These can be used to parse HTML web pages thus fetching and transforming the content of the web.
4. DOM Parsing
When you use web browsers like Mozilla or Internet Explorer, it is possible to retrieve contents of dynamic web pages generated by client scripting programs.
5. Reorganizing the semantic annotation
There are some web scraping services that can cater to web pages, which embrace metadata markup or semantic. These may be meant to track certain snippets. The web pages may embrace the annotations and can be also regarded as DOM parsing.
The below-mentioned steps refer to the minimum configuration, which is required for designing a web scraping solution.
HTTP Fetcher– The fetcher extracts the web pages from the site servers targeted.
Dedup– Its job is to prevent extracting duplicate content from the web by making sure that the same text is not retrieved multiple times.
Extractor– This is a URL retrieval solution to fetch information from multiple external links.
URL Queue Manager– This queue manager puts the URLs in a queue and assigns a priority to the URLS that needs to be extracted and parsed.
Database– It is the place or the destination where data after being extracted by a web scraping tool is stored to process or analyze further.
Outsourcing the data extraction process to a DaaS provider is the best option for businesses as it helps them focus on their core business functions. By relying on a data as a service provider, you are freed from the technically complicated tasks such as crawler setup, maintenance and quality check of the data. Since DaaS providers have expertise in extracting data and a pre-built infrastructure and team to take complete ownership of the process, the cost that you would incur will be significantly less than that of an in-house crawling setup.
From the above discussion, it is obvious that a quality web scraping system can be a blessing for contemporary businesses of today’s times of intense competition. Web scraping can also help the businesses to gather relevant and real-time data to help in servicing the clients, nurture leads better, improve operational performance within the workplace, and take actions on insights generated.