Over the years, web scraping has become an integral part of many small and large business structures. In order to scale up your business, streamline your business services and drive your profits, it is necessary to implement data scraping techniques. After all, the grounds on which business’ operate are always changing- at any given point you may be the very best of your industry and within a few months your status can change dramatically.
With competition rising rapidly it is crucial to gauge what developments have been implemented in order to stay ahead in the ever-changing market of the business world. With that being said, what is web scraping, and how can it benefit your business? Below, we discuss why so many businesses use web scraping and why you should utilize it too!
What is web scraping?
At its core, web scraping is the art of taking any web page that one can access through the internet and retrieving some information from that page. The main idea behind it is to be able to automate this retrieval in order for it to be done in a quick, easy and reproducible way. Whether a user is looking to automate a business service or is interested in finding information on their favorite sports team, web scraping is the tool to use! In this blog, some examples of how web scraping would be used in a business are discussed. Here’s a simple example to further help understand what scraping is:
Assume that Carl runs a bed frame restoration company and wants to find second-hand frames for under $100 that he can restore. In order to do this, he has two options. His first option is to trawl through all the bed frame listings on marketplace sites like eBay, Gumtree and Craigslist looking for bed frames that match his criteria, manually writing down the contact information of the seller for each frame that he finds. Once Carl has searched through all the sites that he wants, he writes an email to each frame seller that he has come across to enquire about purchasing the bed frame.
Carl spends every morning looking for new listings and sending out these emails. This sounds like a lot of work. Carl’s second option is simpler.
He sets up a scraping system that:
- Provides him with a list of all the viable bed frames and the seller information from all the sites that he wants to look at.
- Sends out an automatic email that inquires about purchasing the frame to each seller that his scraping system comes across.
- Achieves all this in the time it takes for Carl to prepare his morning coffee!
This is the power of web scraping. Turning a task that would usually take a lot of time, into an efficient, streamlined process that takes no time at all. The above example was quite trivial but when it is scaled to scraping thousands of web pages and tens of thousands of bed frames (Carl’s bed frame business is booming), web scraping becomes not only a better option than manual labor but essential to the smooth and efficient running of a business.
What do you require to get started?
Depending on your strategy, to get started using web scraping is as easy as reaching out to professional scraping businesses. These businesses can help you automate the scraping of web pages, start email outreach programs and help visualize the information that has been scraped. Going through a professional scraping service allows you to worry more about the utilization of the scraped data instead of the actual scraping process. This is why services like Scraping Solutions, who handle all the scraping behavior for you, exist.
In the case of Carl above, he can worry about his more important restoration work and purchasing of bed frames instead of the administrative tasks like outreach to potential sellers and searching for new bed frames.
If you have more of an understanding of web scraping and want to handle it yourself, UI based tools like Octoparse enable you to scrape any website without writing a single line of code. They also have built-in templates to guide you in case you are finding it difficult to wrap your head around. For the really tech-savvy programmers out there, there are tools like Puppeteer and Scrapy that allow you to program your own web scrapers.
But for the majority of non-technical users like Carl, it makes sense to use a cloud-based scraping service like Scraping Solutions where he doesn’t have to do any work except submitting his requirements.
Then the data extraction experts will set up everything for carl, and he simply receives a daily new emails reports. After all Carl’s focus should be working on his own business than spending hours learning how to run web scraping tools.
Where can you learn web scraping?
If you’re still feeling a little uneasy about the whole web scraping journey or want to improve your skills, there are a number of courses available at your convenience. Online platforms such as Team Treehouse and Codecademy have a variety of options available depending on the skills that you seek to learn. Some of these require you to have a little background knowledge in programming languages such as Python, as well as being able to understand the general structure of a web page.
Advantages of web scraping
1. Product Information
Automate the retrieval of key product information that is crucial to how your business runs by scraping the appropriate sites and analyzing the trends of what products are popular, what price they are being bought and any other information needed. This is an especially useful use case of scraping for the running of eCommerce type services, analyzing competitors on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, or creating a marketplace of your own.
2. Lead Generation
If your business is looking to hire, network, or reach out to professionals in a certain field, scraping can also be utilized in order to automate the search and retrieval process of finding these people. Scraping sites such as LinkedIn, Craigslist, Gumtree or Seek to find personnel looking to provide a service or searching for your service can save you or your business days of manual searching and laboring. Use scraping in this situation to reach out en-masse to people looking for a job in a field you are advertising. Or to compare and find the best business for a job you need doing.
3. Reputation monitoring
Having a deep understanding of how your customers feel about you and your brand is vital to any business’ success. You may have a vague idea based on some customer interactions, but it can be difficult to have an accurate account supported by data. However, with web scraping tools, gathering customer reviews from a variety of sources and other website inputs allows for concrete data evidence. Therefore, you can facilitate your reputation monitoring quite easily and all it takes is a few minutes to extract the data. Web scraping gives you the opportunity to understand your customers’ needs and view in order to serve them better.
4. Pricing optimization
If you’re finding it difficult to balance your product pricing with customer demands, web scraping can be very useful. Consumers will always be inclined to pay more for a valuable product which means the demand for such products will increase. By scraping customer information about such products, you can ensure that the highest demanding buys are always available at your store. You can also implement a dynamic pricing strategy since the market is bound to fluctuate one way or another. Your pricing should always reflect market demands so that you can maximize profit and ensure customer satisfaction. Web scraping enables you to keep up with these changes and implement them in a timely manner so that you don’t fall short while your competitors rise high.
5. Allows for predictive analysis to occur
Predictive analysis allows you to analyze existing data and figure out patterns indicative of future performance or trends. Although trends may not accurately predict future occurrences, it is all about weighing up the probabilities of the patterns reoccurring or taking a new path. In a business scenario, predictive analysis can be utilized to assess, study and understand consumer behaviors in order to prepare a list of risks and opportunities that may be presented. However, an analysis of this sort can only be based on vast amounts of existing data which is why web scraping has become a significant factor. Web scraping is capable of extracting data to this degree and therefore is paramount for predictive analysis.
6. Provides benefits to your SEO campaign
Search engines such as Google, Mozilla Firefox or Yahoo give us an insight into how the world of business moves. Content is always fluctuating, and the use of web scraping tools can aid your understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of search engines. If you’re serious about SEO, you’ve most likely come across tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs, these tools would not exist without data extraction. Using such tools enables you to find your SEO competitors popular search terms and optimize your campaign to outrank theirs. By analyzing their title tags and the keywords they are targeting, this will give you an idea on the factors which drive traffic to their website.
7. Content Marketing
Web scraping is used to collate data from a number of sources which aids in the content marketing process. The data that has been extracted can be used for creating new and engaging content designed to drive customers to your business. Being able to provide engaging content is a key factor to business growth as it increases web traffic and customer retention.
Web scraping is an essential asset to have in the modern-day technological world. Ensure you’re at the top of your industry by backing yourself up with the right web scraping tools.
If you ready to find the best scraping provider for your business, to increase your sales while saving time you should read Top 10 Best Data Scraping Services, Platforms & Tools.