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The internet is like an endless ocean of unstructured data. All the data that you need is scattered across the web, but it is just not in a ready to consume form. You will have to extract, manage and then analyse this data to use it to your business advantage. Data extraction being the first and most crucial part of the process, you must choose the right web crawling service to get it done for you to ensure maximum efficiency. Web data is increasingly being used in industries like marketing, Ecommerce, Recruitment and even Healthcare. Choosing the right web crawling service can be a headache if you don’t understand the technology behind web scraping.
Besides, with few services that can cater to end to end data acquisition needs, it’s easy to end up with something that doesn’t cover all your requirements. Here are some pointers to help you out in your quest for the right web scraping service for your business.
The web crawling service that you choose should be scalable and future-proof. This means, as your data requirements keep getting bigger, the crawling service shouldn’t lag and slow you down. Your web crawling service provider should have great resources and infrastructure to cater to your future data needs be it big or small.
2. Transparency of pricing structure
Look for a web crawling service provider with transparent and easy to understand pricing. Pricing models that are very complex are often annoying and might even mean that they have shady hidden costs. It is better to avoid such companies and go for one that keeps their pricing plans crisp and clear. A good pricing structure is one that can be understood at a glance. Ideally, the pricing plan should help you predict your future costs effortlessly. You can also go for services that offer pay-as-you-go pricing model in which you only pay for the data you get as opposed to paying equivalently for both large and small data requirements.
3. How do they deal with changes in the website?
Websites that you need to be crawled might often undergo changes. The changes might be cosmetic or sometimes structural and the crawling service that you choose should be one that watches out for such changes. Changes to the website would require the crawler to be modified accordingly. If a web crawling service is not monitoring these changes properly, you might want to steer clear from them.
4. Can they bypass Anti-scraping mechanisms?
Many websites have mechanisms implemented on them to discourage extracting their data. A good crawling service should have technology that can take care of such situations while still respecting the target servers. You will have to make sure your crawling service is capable enough to deal with such roadblocks.
5. Data delivery formats
The first question would be what formats/file types do you want the data to be delivered in? If you want it in JSON format, choose a web crawling provider that delivers the data in JSON. It’s better to go for the one that can deliver data in multiple formats so that you can always rely on them even when your requirements change.
6. Customer support
Customer support is crucial while dealing with petabytes of data that you might not be used to handling. You will always need answers to your queries promptly. With great customer support in place, you don’t have to worry if something goes wrong once in a while. Customer support should actually be one of your top priorities while hunting for the best web crawling service. Make sure your crawling service provider uses modern customer support tools so that you aren’t left with any unanswered questions.
7. Quality of data
The data scraped from the web is initially unstructured and not in usable form unless cleaned up by the web scraping service provider. How good and structured it turns out in the end will totally depend on the quality of the company you choose. So you will have to pick one that takes care of cleaning up and classifying the junk data into readable and useful data for you. The quality of the final data is very important since your analysis will be impacted by it.
Since big data has become an inevitable part of gaining business insights, web scraping services are in high demand. Choosing the right one can be a challenging task but we hope this post serves as a guide when you are on the lookout for a good web crawling solution.