Using Web Scraping Tools for Efficiency

Using Web Scraping Tools for Efficiency - featured image 1

The Big Data market is on an ever-increasing rise. Data has become a new currency in businesses fueling the work done by machines and assisting people in decision-making.

The right information can give your business a predictive advantage over its competitors.

Data can additionally power your advertising strategy and help you to personalize your business’s customer user experience.

It is no wonder then that the Big Data market has risen from a $122 billion revenue figure in 2015 to $189 billion in 2019. 

Data by IDC shows that by 2022 the market will be worth over $274 billion. Businesses that are highly dependent on data are acquiring data visualization and business intelligence platforms and rolling them into big tech businesses. 

Google Cloud, for instance, has purchased Looker, for $2.6 billion while Salesforce paid a hefty $15.7 billion for the interactive data visualization platform, Tableau.

Both Salesforce and Google will integrate these business’s machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to enhance data gathering. 

Your business can also partake of the benefits of data by utilizing a web scraper tool.

What is a web scraper?

Many business owners dream of accessing the vast amounts of internet knowledge out there but lack the prowess and tools required to do so.

Those that are knowledgeable regarding web scraping also face the various hurdles that web scraper tools encounter while collecting data. 

The maintenance of scraping tools is also not easy since websites are in an ever-changing structural change phase. A web scraper is a tool that offers an automated process of capturing data online.

These tools will crawl, index, scrape and download massive amounts of data in an easy to read file format such as .CSV. You can visit Oxylabs to know more about web scraping tools and how to use them. 

They can also save the files extracted in database formats such as JSON files. You can analyze the data downloaded for actionable business insights.

Web scraping gives you a more accurate, efficient, and faster data access method than the traditional copy and paste method do.

How does web scraping work?

Web scraping tools can harvest different forms of data as required including email addresses, images, text, videos, or phone numbers.

Your web scraper can be tailor-made to scrape domain-specific information such as real estate listings, financial data, newspaper headlines, price, reviews, or competitor data.  

These bots have a variety of programming to guide their activities. One of the most common methods of web scraping is:

  1. The bot will request specific information from a target URL, then access it and download the HTML information from the website 
  2. Web scrapers can also parse the information on a website to extract relevant data such as page titles, headings, links, or paragraphs of the website pages 
  3. The scraping bot will download the scraped data and save it a readable format or in a database.  

Is web scraping legal?

The legality of web scraping has always been a contentious issue. First, it is important to note that search engines are very dependent on data scraping.

It is therefore not a novel concept. Google, for instance, scrapes data to build its massive database of web pages from all areas around the globe.

There are tons of businesses that also scrape business data for profit-making databases. Since Google has to scrape a website for indexing purposes, most websites allow Google bots to crawl them.

Some websites expressly forbid data scraping citing copyright, contract or trespass laws. 

A US Court of Appeals, however, put this matter to rest when it allowed HiQ, an analytics firm, to scrape LinkedIn’s public data. The court ruling set the precedence that scraping publicly available information is a fair game. 

Nevertheless, there are forms of web scraping that can land your business in legal trouble. Scraped data, for instance, is not meant for unlimited commercial use.

You also cannot re-use raw copyrighted data or scrape information from websites that have authentication measures in place. 

Despite the legality of data scraping, websites have measures in place that limit the process. Below are some ways that you can scrape data efficiently despite hindrances.

Efficiency in web scraping

  • Since websites perform frequent user interface changes, ensure that your web scraper tool receives constant modifications and updates for efficient scraping.
  • Some websites use honeypot traps to thwart scraping bots. These traps detect scraping tools and cause blocking of the scraper’s IP address. To prevent this occurrence, limit your scraper tools’ traversal depth.
  • Use high-end web scrapers on websites that have a variety of anti-scraping measures such as CAPTCHAs.
  • Ensure that your web scraper of choice delivers accurate and error-free data after downloads.

Conclusion

Web scraping can fetch a variety of useful business data that can aid price monitoring, lead generation, competitive analysis and other forms of business research. Use a web scraper tool from a reputable provider to ensure an accurate, fast, and efficient scraping process for your business.

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