Web scraping is a solution for those who want to have access to structured data from the Web in an automated way.
In today’s competitive online world, everyone is looking for ways to innovate and use new technologies. Web scraping can be very useful when the website you wish to obtain data does not have an API or, if it does, provide only limited access to the data.
Web Scraping – Know What It Is
Web scraping is the procedure of collecting structured data from the Web in an automated way. It is also called web data extraction or data scraping. Some of the prominent use cases for web scraping include price monitoring, price intelligence, news monitoring, lead generation and market analysis, among many others.
In general, data extraction from the Internet is used by people and companies wishing to use a large amount of information and data available on the Internet to the general public, to make smarter decisions.
Have you ever copied and pasted from a website?? It performed the same function as any web scraper, only on a microscopic and manual scale. Unlike the manual data extraction process, web scraping uses intelligent automation to retrieve billions of data points from the Internet, seemingly an endless frontier.
Web scraping is quite popular, and more than a modern utility, the real power of web scraping stays in the ability to build and power some of the most revolutionary commercial applications in the world.
The Basics of Web Scraping
It is effortless and works through two parts: a web crawler and a web scraper. The first is the horse, and the second is the carriage. The crawler leads the scraper, similar to a hand, through the Internet, where it extracts the requested data.
A web crawler, which we generally call “spider”, is an artificial intelligence that browses the Internet to index and search content, following links and exploring, as a person with too much time to devote to this work. In many projects, you first crawl (“crawl”) over the Internet or a specific website to discover URLs that you then pass to the scraper.
A web scraper is an integrated tool designed to extract data from an Internet page accurately and quickly. Web scrapers differ widely in design and complexity, depending on the project. An essential part of each scraper is the data finders (or selectors) used to find the data extracted from the HTML file – usually xpath, css selectors, regex or a combination of all.
The Web Scraping Process
A typical web scraping process involves the following steps:
- Identify the destination website
- Collect URLs of the pages from which you want to extract data
- Make a request to these URLs for the HTML of the page
- Use locators to find data in HTML
- Save the data in a JSON, CSV or another structured format
Simple enough, right? Yes, but only if you have a small project. Unfortunately, there are quite a few challenges to face if you need large-scale data. For example, keep the scraper if the website layout changes manage proxies, runs Java script, or goes around with Anti-bots.
These are deeply technical problems that can be resource-intensive. Thus, to solve these types of challenges, some services meet your needs, with the implementation of scrapers, infrastructure creation, data structuring and delivery in the desired format and periodicity. This is a crucial part of that “reason” why many companies choose to outsource their web data projects.
Use of Web Scraping
Several utilizations can be made of this technology. Here are some examples of use cases to better illustrate the potential of this technology.
1. Price Intelligence
Price intelligence is the most common use case for web scraping. Extract information about products and prices from e-commerce websites, turning it into intelligence. Thus, it is an integral part of modern e-commerce companies that want to make better pricing/marketing decisions based on this data.
2. Market Analysis
Market research is critical and must be driven by the most accurate information available. The high quality, the high volume and the sharp insight of data extracted from the Internet of all shapes and sizes feed market analysis and business intelligence worldwide.
3. Given Alternative Finance
The decision-making process has never been more informed nor the data so rich. Besides, the world’s leading companies increasingly consume data extracted from the Internet, given its incredible strategic value for the financial market.
4. Real Estate
In the past twenty years, the real estate sector’s digital transformation threatens to disrupt traditional businesses and create influential new players in the industry. By incorporating product data extracted from the Internet into everyday business, agents and brokers can protect themselves against all types of online competition and make informed decisions in the market.
5. Monitoring of Content and News
Modern media can create exceptional value or an existential threat to your business, in a single news cycle. Whether you are a company that relies on timely news analysis or a company that frequently appears in the news, extracting news from the Internet is the ultimate monitoring solution, aggregating and analyzing the most critical stories in your industry.
6. Lead Generation
Lead generation is an essential marketing/sales activity for all companies. In the Hubspot 2020 report, 61% of new marketers said that traffic and lead generation was their number one challenge. Fortunately, data extraction on the Web can be used to gain structured lead lists from the Internet.
7. Brand Monitoring
In today’s highly competitive market, protecting your online reputation is a top priority. Whether to sell products online and have a strict pricing policy that is needed to apply or want to know how people see products online, brand monitoring with web scraping can give you this kind of information.
8. Business Automation
At times, it can be really cumbersome to access your data. You may have some data on your website or your partner’s website that you need in a structured way. But instead of trying to venture into complicated internal systems, it makes sense to create a scraper and get that data.
9. MAP Monitoring
Minimum advertised price (MAP) monitoring is standard practice to ensure that a brand’s online prices align with its pricing policy. With a multitude of dealers and distributors, it is impossible to control costs manually. That is why web scraping appears to be a useful tool, allowing you to monitor your products’ prices without moving a finger.
The Realization of Web Scraping
Wintr is an excellent example of a comprehensive solution for web scraping. With a stable position in the market, since 2012 it has been extracting data from the Web for more than 1,000 companies, for people and startups at an early stage, already presenting enormous experience and expertise in removing data from the Internet.