Many professionals and companies use web scraping to keep track of the latest updates in the respective fields. It has a wide range of applications in any industry. Web scraping can be applied, for example, in market research, data mining, monitoring competitors, and many more. As more data becomes available on the internet, more may be scraped.
In this article, we are going to explore web scraping topic, here’s what we will cover:
- What Is Web Scraping?
- How Is Web Scraper Created?
- Origins of Web Scraping
- Web Scraping in Practice
- How Does Web Scraping Work?
- Why Is Web Scraping Needed?
- Web Scraping as a Service
- Technology That Actually Works
- Potentials and Benefits
- Web Scraping Popular Uses
- Where to Start? Conclusion or a Feature
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the process of using software applications to extract data from a website automatically. Web scraping collects data in an organized structure.
The simplest way to understand it is this: Whenever you try to extract any data from a website, it’s called web scraping, even if you are doing it manually.
Web scraping has also been known as website data extraction, web harvesting, web crawling, data crawling, or other similar variations. There are slight differences between those, but generally, the goal is to extract the data.
Web scraping is mainly used by companies that want to gather intelligence that can help them better understand their customers, monitor competition, or perform research.
How Is Web Scraper Created?
Web scraper is in various programming languages, most notably Python, enabling faster coding. A Custom web scraper is created from scratch to perform actions such as extracting data from a web source.
The scraping software queries a web server of the target website, requests data in the HTML or JSON format and other files that comprise web pages, and then parses that data to extract necessary fields in the desired output.
The process may involve downloading several web pages or the entire site. The downloaded content may include just the text from the pages, HTML as a whole, or both the HTML and images from each page.
Web scraping is a useful approach for extracting information from a website that can’t be accessed via its API. Incentive often comes from the necessity to support an application or keep it working as changes are made on the target site.
Sometimes, for simplicity, we have to break down a web page into smaller elements, leading us to understand what is on the page and how it can be extracted.
Unfortunately, this process cannot always be done automatically. In some cases, one may need to use human intelligence, or built-in opt-out scripts in order to do so.
However, in the end, it’s a great way to help businesses make data-driven decisions.
Origins of Web Scraping
Origins of web scraping date back to 1989 when British scientist Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web.
Initially, the idea was to have a platform where information could be automatically shared between scientists in universities and institutes worldwide.
His original goal was to create an information management system, but in the end, he managed to create a society of humans connected by technology.
The very beginnings of protocols just allowing us to fetch the resources, which we now call HTTP, are the basis of web scraping.
This idea of sharing data soon created a new way for people to communicate and express themselves.
Not just text, but songs, movies, and even events became accessible through web browsers.
Even though the Web is constantly evolving, it still provides us with valuable information to learn more about our world.
We use the Web to communicate, share ideas and express ourselves. Nowadays, we can even use it as a shopping platform where we buy goods from all around the world with just a couple of clicks.
The sheer number of possibilities is enormous, and no one knows what new opportunities will be introduced next.
Web Scraping In Practice
Web scraping in practice is very similar to copying and pasting data from a website – except the automated nature allows it to be used on a much larger scale.
Web scraping is an automated process, so it can reduce the massive amount of manual work required to complete months of work in an instance
As such, it can be used to extract data from a massive number of websites quickly and accurately, opening up access to a considerable amount of legally accessible information using web scraping for businesses.
In practice, web scraping encompasses various programming techniques and technologies, such as data analysis and information security.
It is not always easy for automated programs like web scrapers to know when to send requests to the server and when they should not — That’s why it is always best if the process is taken care of by web scraping experts.
How Does Web Scraping Work?
Web scraping works by targeting and extracting public data sets available on the internet. It enables to view databases spanning thousands or even millions of pages at once.
Web scraping gives you structured web data from any public website. Suppose you have a shop and want to keep track of your competitor’s prices. You could go to your competitor’s website every day to compare each product’s price with your own.
But this would take up a lot of time and wouldn’t scale if you sold thousands of products or needed to check price changes frequently. Or maybe you want to buy a product when it is on sale.
You could return and review this product website each day until you get lucky, but the product you want might not be on sale for months.
It’s exactly the same even for large enterprises who are constantly monitoring procurements data using web scraping for business intelligence.
These repetitive, manual processes could instead be replaced with an automated solution using web scraping techniques. Indeed, approximately 21% of current e-commerce traffic comes from price scrapers.
Why Is Web Scraping Needed?
Web scraping is needed because it can supply companies and individuals with the latest and the most important data insights.
The main difference lies in the automation of all processes. In order to define why is web scraping needed for businesses, we might start by considering who needs data at all.
I mean, don’t we all? Isn’t the purpose of the internet to receive data in a more modern manner and compete with each other about who holds the most information and knows more about everything?
Isn’t the actual goal of businesses to overcome digital information flow madness and become better by learning more about the market, customers, products, etc.? Although some industries need web scraping more than others at a certain level, all businesses require it.
Another exciting aspect of web scraping is that it can be integrated with any workflow and even become a new sales channel or a method to analyze existing customer reviews.
Nevertheless, it’s not always as straightforward as it may sound, since it requires very complex research and analysis, as well as an ever-evolving approach.
Everything is changing today, and it happens too fast, so to keep it up, you will probably need a team of experts who will handle everything for you and guarantee high-quality data.
To boil it down, the demand of data is precisely what leads to form web scraping as an independent service.
Web Scraping as a Service
Web scraping as a service is no different from regular scraping except that it’s completely customized to your needs. Imagine you need data, any data you desire, and now you can get it easier than ever before.
Here’s how it works: you describe what data you want, dictate how frequently you would like to have it, maybe add something like formatting preferences to make sure it’s structured as you expect, and probably prefer some fancy delivery options like an API or cloud storage.
You can have it all, unlike regular scraping tools or any other type of extraction app. This time, everything is customized to suit your needs. And you can even make an exclusive request and be sure that you are the only one using it. If you want, you can also own it.
If you can manually access something, then it can be automated. Just make sure it’s legal and doesn’t contain personal information to avoid any legal discrepancies. Actually, It’s not just about legal aspects but also an ethical one. If you are a business and want to overcome your competition, there is always a way and a very legal one.
Technology That Actually Works
You can get just about everything today, still web scraping still can be a new thing, and I believe there is still a lot to learn in this field.
Nevertheless, what digital science has taught us is that, even though businesses are based on fundamentals, the rules of the digital market can always change.
Even enterprises are trying to catch up and not get lost between decision-making either by choosing this or that.
it’s too hard to make a decision, let alone the right one. The more data we have, the harder it gets to choose the right path.
That’s why, in most cases, we depend on our intuition and hope that it’s the right thing to do.
It may be right, but what if something such as web scraping could provide all the options you need, even with the key indicators, so you can make a decision based on the facts and even make exact predictions.
Machine learning, data analysis and web scraping are powerful tools that can help us solve most of the problems.
All you have to do is ask the right questions in order to get accurate answers. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely never impossible.
Do you need to know how to use all these things? Of course not. But do you want more data about your business, industry, or maybe even competitors’ ones?
And by this, I mean the type of data that you still think is impossible to obtain? Despite everything, it’s not. Well, at least if you know these fields.
The web is an excellent tool for gathering data but that doesn’t mean we only depend on Google.
Potentials and Benefits
Web scraping potentials and benefits are like having a cheat sheet about isolating the competition and finding a way around. It helps stay one step ahead by using advantages based on factual data.
Full potential and benefit of the web scraping are yet to be seen, it can solve everything. Well, maybe not everything. Businesses still require day-to-day operations, but they don’t have to move forward blindly instead get data to guide them.
We have access to much more data than we realize. The thing is that we all have too much information, and we have access to at least 1,200 Petabytes of data which is 1,200,000,000 Gigabytes, impressive right?!
More and more businesses are transforming and joining the digital market, and competition is growing almost exponentially. It’s time to implement modern applications and feed your business with live data insights.
Using web scraping, it has finally become possible to automate most of the data needs and utilize ways of finding new customers, increasing customer retention, improving customer service, predicting sales trends, and many more.
It’s all about the way you approach your target audience. Web scraping helps to collect information, analyze it and sort out the insights based on what kind of business practice is implemented by your company.
Every company can benefit from digital market intelligence because it’s an opportunity to find new data that will ultimately help you gain competitive advantage.
Web Scraping Popular Uses
Web scraping popular uses are about to perform many tasks, including Data mining, Web crawling, Data analysis, IT & Digital, Research & Development, SEO, Social Media, and many more. However, different industries are going to adopt scraping differently. Working knowledge of technology and a deft hand in producing it will be critical to continued success for many industries. Listed below are more detailed examples of web scraping use cases:
Data Mining: Industry research has found that the systematic use of web-scraped data can save you up to 56% on time and resources. It’s a unique way to test a business hypothesis, where you can use web scraping to launch a trial of your product or service on a section of the market.
Web Crawling: Industry research has found that more than 70% of all data originates from websites. Web crawling is one of the critical tools for collecting data online, which is frequently used in SEO. Google uses it to find fresh content, and webmasters popularly use it to check the health of their site.
Data Analysis: Many of the most exciting uses for web scraping involve collecting data (as with some of those above) and analyzing it. This can be useful across a wide range of sectors, including finances, where Web scrapers allow you to monitor real-time stock quotes and share prices, as well as economic indicators. This information can help you keep an eye on market trends and make intelligent investment decisions.
IT & Digital: Web scrapers are used to monitor news, reviews, and listings about products, companies, key people, etc.… Technology companies can use this for competitive analysis or recruitment agencies to track the latest IT trends.
Research & Development: Web scraping can collect research data more quickly and accurately, especially for scientific organizations with minimal budgets. This reduces the need for expensive testing procedures on live subjects while at the same time allowing access to a vast range of information that might not otherwise be possible (due to cost or legality).
SEO: Web scrapers can be used to generate fresh and unique content and data, which is much easier than manually collecting it — Not only do web scrapers save you time and energy, but they allow you to update older pages with new information as well. In many cases, this makes a website’s search rankings more competitive by adding more fresh content to the site.
Social Media: Web scrapers can be useful for monitoring popular trends across social media sites, which is helpful for companies that are looking to get involved with the latest trends. It’s also important for SEO purposes, as updates on social networks can often help or hinder your search engine rankings.
Where to Start? Conclusion or a Feature
Here, I would usually tell a story about how great it is to have a web scraping service and probably ask you to get in touch with us. But I understand that there might be a lot on your mind right now.
You are probably somewhere in between making the decision of your lifetime, and the thing is, we all are. Every day, we make decisions that might impact the rest of our lives. We live in the future lacking flying cars, but we are flying through a massive amount of data.
The smartest thing we can do is take a break, maybe even grab a coffee and go someplace we have never been before, with a friend we always wanted to reconnect with but never had time to.
In the meantime, let the people whose best friends are LCD screens connected to high-end processors get things done for you.
We are Datamam, a team of professional software developers, market researchers, and data analysts; our only goal is to make all the necessary data accessible to businesses that need it.
We work with enterprises, but we also work with small and medium-sized companies because every business has a unique value. A value that no one else may possess, thus making us eager to learn more about you and understand how we can help.