Many businesses nowadays are looking for ways to gather a wide range of data from various websites because a large pool of data could give them a competitive advantage in the market. Many businesses utilize web scraping techniques to help them meet this need.
While many businesses have started using web scraping, misunderstandings about this data scraping technique still exist. I’ll try to debunk some of those misconceptions here to help you have a deeper understanding of web scraping.
1. Web scraping is illegal
Perhaps this is the biggest myth surrounding web scraping technology. The misconception out there is that web scraping is all about stealing content from others. As we mentioned in an earlier post, web scraping in itself is very much legal, unless the motive behind the process is malicious. In other words, web scraping is illegal only when you use it for evil purposes; for instance, using copyrighted data as your own. But you can use web scraping to help with your analysis. To be on the safe side, always read and understand the terms of service before using the data you obtained from websites.
2. You can scrape any website
The truth is that not all websites can be scraped easily. Some site owners have implemented anti-scraping techniques such as IP, CAPTCHA, AJAX, UA, and many others to prevent scraping because they do not want their information to be freely accessed. Even though you can work around these techniques, it will take you a long time, and you will waste a lot of money, which may not be worth it in the end.
3. You must be a programmer
Many people believe that they must be good at programming to scrape data from websites. The truth is, there are many software solutions so that you really don’t have to worry about coding. All you need to do is search for any visual web scraper or web scraping software in any search engine, and you will get a ton of solutions for your problem without coding.
4. Web scraping is expensive
Naturally, many businesses outsource web scraping services to companies offering the service or freelancers. And just so that we are clear, web scraping is cheap in terms of the ROI it provides in the long run. Well, it is essential to understand that hiring a company specializing in web scraping service will definitely cost you a dime. But then the returns are worth it. First of all, you need to determine how complex your project is. If you have a broad and long term project, hiring a vendor will be more profitable for you since they usually guarantee you’ll get your data every time on time.
Another advantage of hiring a web scraping company is that some provide additional services like further processing data to fit your needs. Therefore, even though getting some professional service may cost you some money, the benefits far outweigh what you’ve spent. Actually, if you do your math, you will realize that these companies will get you a large amount of data at a relatively low cost.
5. It’s hard to set up
No doubt, web scraping comes with its challenges, especially when you are starting. Challenges you must learn to overcome. But then there are plenty of ready-to-use tools that will help you navigate through the initial stages if you’re don’t have any prior knowledge of data science. They always come with detailed instructions that will help you understand the process. In addition to that, you really don’t have any reason why you shouldn’t consider outsourcing scraping. Many companies offer top-notch web scraping services and are always ready to give you well-structured and easy to process information. It will save you a lot in terms of time and effort because you won’t have to dive into details and do everything on your own.
6. Web scraping and web crawling are the same
Even though there is a very thin line between the two, they are still not the same. They have different features, and they are used for different purposes. Web crawling is essentially the act of automatically downloading data from a given site, together with all the hyperlinks involved. Web scraping, on the other hand, is the process of downloading data from the target site and fetching detailed information from it.
In conclusion, web scraping is not some outer space knowledge, and it’s way easier to learn and use than you think. With many dedicated and ready to use tools available nowadays, most businesses can take advantage of this service. Of course, you will encounter some challenges when you are starting, but they are not difficult to overcome. On the plus side, you don’t need to do it yourself. You can outsource this task and let professionals do their thing. This will guarantee you a high-quality data that’s easy to work with.
To learn more about our web-scraping service or to discuss your project with us please contact us