Data can be a powerful tool for anyone, whether you’re an individual user or a massive business. It gives you valuable insight that you can use to stay on top of your competition. So, collecting large amounts of data at the fastest speed would be crucial for you or your business. This is where web scraping and web scrapers come in handy.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is extracting data from any part of the internet. It can be done either manually, like copying and pasting data by hand, or automatically, like extracting information through a web scraper. Doing it by hand takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you want to scrape large volumes of data. That’s why most users prefer to use web scrapers to do the job quickly and efficiently.
How Does Web Scraping Work?
There are multiple steps in the web scraping process:
- First, you have to identify what data you want and which website you want to get it from.
- Now, you need to get a web scraper. You can buy one or build one for yourself.
- Then, you can now extract your desired data in an HTML format.
- Lastly, you need to transform your data into a readable format like .json through a process called data parsing.
Through the advent of ready-made web scrapers, web scraping has never been easier. Even someone with little to no experience with programming can operate these web scraping tools.
Is Web Scraping Legal?
Web scraping is legal, although websites aren’t exactly keen on the idea of users scraping their sites. If they detect that you’re using a web scraper or any other automation tool on their site, they would immediately ban your account and blacklist your IP address. This is because scrapers often break that website’s Terms Of Service (TOS) or cause web servers to go down due to too many requests. In worse cases, scrapers might even use that data to build a competing service.
This is why users pair web scrapers with proxies, either residential or datacenter proxies, so they won’t get banned when scraping any website.
Uses Cases For Web Scraping
There are many uses for the data you collected through scraping websites, some of which you can do are:
- Price Comparison. Know about the latest sales and gouge the prices of certain products.
- Market Research. Gain insight into the latest market trends and see where it is headed.
- E-commerce. See which products are flying off the shelves.
- Data Aggregation. Gather all the information from multiple sources and compare them with each other.
- Review Monitoring. Maintain or boost your company’s online reputation by gathering public information on your brand or products.
Web scraping has become an essential tool in helping you or your business stand out from the rest of the competition. If utilized well, it can give you valuable insight into current and future trends, and give you ample time to prepare for what’s gonna happen in your industry.