Competition has been a driving aspect of the business world ever since the birth of commerce, and this has been a constant throughout almost all iterations of human history, even in the digital era.
Innovation and research are key elements of being able to stay ahead of the competition or to catch up with it in some cases.
Getting access to information and data is in many ways the gold rush of the digital era, and web scraping is a way for anyone to get access to web data in an efficient, automated fashion.
In this guide we’re going to look at web scraping in detail, examining what exactly web scraping is, what it’s used for and the benefits of web scraping to give you a better understanding of just how powerful this process can be.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is a means by which people or businesses can collect web data using automated tools. Some people refer to this process as web data extraction.
There are various uses for collecting this data, and it’s used in various industries to build research and it can have a huge effect on how businesses work.
Generally, web data extraction takes masses of research and data found on the web and organizes this data into information that can help businesses work more efficiently and make better business decisions.
What Is Data Scraping Good For?
Data scraping can be used in many different ways.
The tools used for this process can automate the process of extracting information from various other websites, allowing you to efficiently and effectively gain information that can be used in your own research.
Quite often these tools often make it very easy to take all this raw data and information and make it neat and easy to understand, allowing you to analyze it more effectively and increasing the usefulness of the data you collect
Web scraping can be used in various industries and is commonly used in e-commerce to help with price matching between various different retailers, which is a good example of how beneficial web scraping can be.
This allows brands to stay competitive with their pricing and monitor market trends, allowing for better strategizing and more effective price planning.
Web scraping can also be used by various other industries and businesses however, one example is in the financial world, where these tools are used to extract concise insights and information from various news stories to help make financial decision-making much faster and more efficient.
It also allows researchers to assess various different companies and how successful they are, as well as how to plan and create new products and services for various different types of customers.
The Basics Of Web Scraping
Web scraping sounds like something only the most dedicated IT professional would understand, but it’s actually incredibly simple, even for beginners.
There are two main types of tools to use for web scraping. These are known as web crawlers and web scrapers.
These two tools work together to perform the main aspects of web scraping, with the crawler finding the correct information, and the scraper doing the actual withdrawal of data.
A web crawler often referred to as a ‘spider’ is an AI that browses the internet to find and categorize content by following links and generally exploring, just like someone who falls down an internet clickhole.
Often the crawler is used to discover key websites and content that are then used later by the scraper to actually acquire the information and data.
The scraper is the tool that actually extracts the information from a webpage, and it does this accurately and efficiently.
Scrapers can be quite simple or more complex, and this often varies depending on the specific project the scraper is being used for.
What Is A Scraping Tool?
A scraping tool is a type of program or software that is designed to extract key information from websites.
Scraping tools often have varying capabilities that suit the type of extraction and project that they are being used for, with some accessing simpler user-visible data, while others may extract less obvious and available information.
There are many different types of scraping tools available and there are even freely available options that any user can start using, meaning that anyone can take advantage of web scraping and its insights.
What Is Web Scraping Used For?
Web scraping has many uses which we’re going to look at in this section.
One of the biggest and most popular uses for web scraping is price intelligence, and this allows companies and businesses to monitor the prices of varying products across the web and use this information to make decisions about their own pricing or how to market more effectively.
Market research is very important for all kinds of businesses, and access to a lot of quality data makes this sort of research much more effective.
Monitoring news stories for interesting or key information is key to all kinds of businesses and can be used for investment and financial decision-making to monitor competitors or stay ahead of the various news streams which are important to you.
Sometimes you may need to pull a lot of data quickly from your own website, and it can be easier to use a web scraping tool to do this, saving time and resources.
Can I Web Scrape for Free?
There are several tools you can use to start web scraping and getting access to a ton of amazing information.
There are some simple tools aimed at beginners to more specialist applications that give more powerful options, but both are effective when used correctly.
In summary, web scraping is a great way to get valuable information from the internet, and it’s something that everyone should know about, so don’t be afraid to dive in and give it a try!