Be it staying updated with the prices of products on an Ecommerce website, checking the freshness of a set of URLs, indexing data or building an internal search engine, data crawling is all you need to take care of a variety of use cases that involve navigating through web pages on the internet. Given the scale at which businesses need crawling done, it is not feasible to employ humans to do this tedious task of browsing through web pages. This is where automated data crawling services become invaluable.
Data crawling is done by using a custom built crawler setup for the particular requirement. A crawler is a program written exclusively to navigate through a list of web pages and do predefined actions such as checking the freshness of the pages or scraping data from these pages. Below are the basic steps of a typical data crawling process:
Defining the Sources: In this step, the list of web pages to be crawled for data extraction is specified. Since the quality of the whole process will depend on the source websites, this has to be done with utmost care. Not to mention, only reliable websitesshould be included in the source list. Sources should be websites that doesn’t disallow automated crawling in their robots.txt file or the TOS page. Crawling websites that disallow bots can lead to legal complications later on.
Crawler Setup:Setting up the crawler is the most complicated step in the data crawling process. This requires technically skilled personnel to look into the source code of the web pages and identify the data points to be extracted and write code that can navigate through the pages automatically to carry out these tasks. Especially because websites do not follow a uniform structure that a generic program can handle. However, advanced crawlers have inbuilt AI techniques that help crawl data intelligently without having to manually look into each source.