Web scraping or data extraction from websites is not as simple as copying and pasting data from one source to another. It’s a complex process where there are multiple layers between targeting the sources and getting usable data to the desired extent. While trying to analyze the requirements, it can be easily identified that there are multiple factors which can define the cost of web scraping services. To understand better, let’s have a close look at these factors.
There are a few dimensions which define a capable crawling infrastructure. It’s quite easy to write a script and run when it’s needed but it’s not only about the script but also about the infrastructure it requires. To develop and maintain such a system it requires well-trained labor, a system that can manage, deploy, and run customized scripts with different goals, and a mechanism to handle those valuable data. These all can potentially affect the cost.
Depending upon the industry in question and the specific use case, the data volume varies. Cost of scraping the web, warehousing the data, processing them and quality checking also, vary with the volume of the data. To accommodate a bigger volume, it will need a capable infrastructure consisting of high-end machines, skilled manpower, and sometimes premium third-party services which are directly proportional to effective costs.
Scraping data from any website may not be so easy each time. Most of the crawling projects often face challenges in terms of crawlability or complexity. It requires multiple customized solutions to deal with those anti-crawling firewalls and again it needs lots of personal attention, care, time, and resources which drive the cost considerably.
How many websites need to be crawled for a specific assignment? It can just be one or it may be in the hundreds. Every website has its own structure and differs from others; so, crawling scripts should also be different in every single case. More scripts need more resources and time to be invested and it’s just simple math.
Frequency is another major cost-driving factor of a web scraping service. Depending upon business type, frequency of crawl may vary. It can be just for one time or can even be hourly. The longer a crawler runs, the more it uses a server which will also increase the cost.
Increasing crawl frequency attracts some major technical challenges and even more volume of data for which it needs better warehousing mechanism and more labor involvements that will definitely affect on cost.
Most of the targeted websites change very frequently and crawling scripts also should be changed accordingly to maintain the right flow and format; again, this directly affects the costs.
Last but not the least, customer support is one of the major cost-driving factors of a web scraping service. Depending upon the business, the system should have customizable customer support where someone can choose between dedicated in-person support and a generalized support system. In any of the cases, it needs human interaction and there’s always a cost associated with it.
The factors we discussed here are not the only factors that drive the cost of a web scraping service; there are a lot more. Be careful while selecting the right web scraping service for the business. Some of the services may offer relatively less price but usability may be compromised and others may provide good usability but may charge unusually high. While selecting a right web scraping service, the authority has to be very clear about its requirements and it requires decent market research before finalizing anything.