Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, for professional or personal interests, you have needed to pull data from the website of a third party? While finding out whether or not this site has an official API can be beneficial, there are more constructive ways to gather this information from a much broader pool of potential pages.
This comes in the form of web scraping; a handy tool that allows you to extract data straight from the source of a page. To put it simply: If a website has viewable content, it has scrapeable content!
Web scraping can be performed manually by crawling through the code of pages you are looking to extract data from, but the intensive amount of time and dedication necessary to perform these tasks effectively will turn off most data mining hopefuls. This is what makes the prospect of managed web scraping solutions is so appealing, as it allows you to glean these insights without having to maintain a vigilant watch over the processes yourself.
However, this doesn’t adequately encapsulate what makes these services useful in regard to developing your business.
What Benefits are there to Scraping For Businesses?
For the majority of industries, attempting to find relevant data on current buying trends is near-impossible.
There are a wide array of factors that go into this, such as a perceived lack of benefits for the provider to sharing this data freely. However, the major difficulty affecting businesses who are attempting to stay on the pulse of their industry is the impermanence of this data’s usefulness.
Trending, by definition, is an impermanent state for something to be in, so while widely accessible data dumps and research papers can be hugely beneficial, these benefits are short-lived. This is one of the many areas that web scraping triumphs in, offering a platform for businesses to receive consistent updates on trends, topics and user behaviour without the fear of outdated intelligence.
From journalists to researchers, learning to web scrape is one of the most worthwhile dips into programming that any business hoping to maintain their relevancy can take. Here are two examples of this usefulness:
Whether you are a digital content specialist attempting to develop your understanding of the current marketing climate, or simply a website owner looking for some insights into the movements of your competition, web scraping offers a valuable tool to your search. It all depends on where you are looking, and what data you’re hoping to gather.
Utilising web scraping tools on sites such as Search Engine Land will allow you to determine which pieces, topics and tags are receiving the most traffic this week. This is invaluable for those looking to develop a targeted content marketing campaign, as it offers a comprehensive, live guide to what readers are looking for.
This gives you the chance to develop a statistical hypothesis about what type of content will draw potential customers based on a wealth of information.
Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you found yourself with a bulk surplus of Nintendo Switch consoles, and were looking for a way to make the most profit when selling them through your online store. While you may be able to gather a vague approximation of ideal pricing from viewing similar item sales on sites such as eBay and Amazon, this process is time-consuming and inaccurate when compared to the raw data available from these sites.
Using eCommerce-focused scraping software will give you a comprehensive analysis of where buying prices for your specific product are highest from region to region. With this data, you can target your sales, promoting your products more thoroughly in areas where the average value per unit is at its peak.
The business landscape is currently in a state of flux, trending more toward digital platforms each day. To stay afloat in this transitional time, marketing intelligence is one of the most important tools in your arsenal and learning to utilise it effectively is sure to be hugely beneficial.