If you are an SMB owner or simply entertaining the idea of integrating web scraping into your business, then you are in the right place. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to absorb about web scraping, and furthermore make decisions that are best for your business.
Right now, data is not just an asset but a weapon. It is often the deciding factor between a business succeeding or failing.
Business owners are always looking to gain an advantage in this digital age, and data gives them that edge. Yes, this is where web scraping does its magic, allowing businesses to acquire the data they need, facilitating lead generation, competitive intelligence, and so much more.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is a simple process of sorting data from the web and presenting it in a universal format by scraping it to make it more useful, and easy to access for your business. Currently, web scraping is one of the best methods for data extraction, and for simple API integration, ScrapingAnt is a reliable, no-blocks, efficient method for businesses of all sizes.
Is Web Scraping Legal?
Although, web scraping legalities still remain a highly debatable topic as it’s linked to online privacy – a burning issue of the digital age. Despite everything, web scraping is legal but under one circumstance: maintaining web scraping best practices and abiding by ethical web scraping rules and regulations.
What Are Web Scraping Best Practices?
The best practices revolving around web scraping are as follows:
- Respecting and abiding by the robot.txt file
- Refraining from scraping personal information
- Avoid being an inconvenience: this includes scraping during peak hours, overloading the server with requests, overwhelming the source server, etc
- Using proxies and masking your IP
- Not scraping copyrighted information
- Scraping with permission
How Do Businesses Usually Collect Data?
It is a common practice for data extraction to be carried out in one of two ways:
- Manual Method
Web scraping manually refers to the process of gathering information or data from the web without the use of automated software. This strategy works well with a modest data set but bogs down under the weight of a huge data set. Workload factors make this a laborious process rife with opportunities for mistakes, variations, and inconsistencies.
- Automated Method
This extraction method is highly dependable compared to manual processes because it is automated and carried out by robots. With the help of AI and complex programming, scrapers have become the preferred method of web scraping because of their speed, efficiency, reliability, and consistency. With all these qualities, automated processes have made manual processes redundant and a thing of the past!
On top of that when you are mining or extracting massive datasets, it becomes nearly impossible and insurmountable without the help of automation, which further shows how far ahead automated processes are when compared to manual processes.
Here Are 5 Signs You Need to Go for Web Scraping
The signs are:
1. Your Business is Growing
When startups and businesses start to grow, web scraping can play a vital role during that stage by acting as a catalyst and expediting things exponentially. Web Scraping can help growing businesses by
- Assessing the Competition
Web scraping is the most efficient method for researching and analyzing the competition. To learn more about the competition, you can access both current and past data to make accurate assessments and also predictions.
- Brand Building
When web scraping is used effectively, it can help all aspects of a business and help in the branding and the foundation of the brand by making use of available data.
- Giving Insight Into Customer Behavior
One of the most important aspects of running a successful business is knowing your consumer base and behavior. All successful companies are aware of this fact and actively seek out new ways to learn more about their target audience and insight into them. Their likes, dislikes, buying behavior, requirements, etc. Furthermore, this data is used to identify, determine and propose ideas for the overall growth of the business in terms of customer reach, sales, and revenue.
- Developing Marketing
Marketing and the entire process of developing creative and engaging marketing campaigns is often the deciding factor between rivals and competing businesses. All successful businesses have a strong marketing team that is always tirelessly working to one-up their competitors! So scraping extracts relevant information that enables you to devise adequate marketing plans for the best business outcomes.
- Product and Service Evaluation
Web scraping has greatly simplified the task of comparing and analyzing prices. Web scraping allows users to quickly, conveniently, and concurrently research and compare a huge variety of products. Using web scraping to examine market dynamics, need, and opportunity is the best method. Web scraping makes it simple to collect valuable data from the internet, such as product descriptions and prices.
- Feasibility and Risk Assessment
Analyzing and observing data are prerequisites for risk analysis and prediction. Using web scraping, you may gather and process information about anything. This entails amassing and sorting data, spotting trends and patterns, estimating likely outcomes, and forecasting potential outcomes. In addition, this can be applied to the study of commercial viability.
- Recruitment and Onboarding
A massive shift is occurring in the human resource management (HR) field as a direct result of the growing importance of data in the decision-making process. The undiscovered data gold mine that many HR departments are sitting on comprises a wide range of data types, including recruiting data, career progression data, training data, absenteeism statistics, productivity statistics, competency profiles, and employee satisfaction data, amongst others.
In addition, as data extraction technologies become more widely used, human resources departments now have the ability to mine and examine data from external sources, such as job boards and social media profiles, in search of crucial insights. These insights can be used to improve decision-making, produce a happier working environment, simplify procedures, and boost the value of the company.
2. There Are Too Many Errors
When you employ web scraping, you can be certain that the data you obtain is accurate because you are getting it directly from a reliable source. The ever-expanding list of advantages now includes this additional benefit. When you use web scraping to extract data and feed it into your own application or databases, there is almost no opportunity for human errors to occur.
At the end of the day, humans are prone to making mistakes. It is natural and unavoidable. While you can blame employees for being careless, you also need to cut them some slack when they are handling large amounts of data. So resorting to automation is a no-brainer here as they make almost no mistakes and are more reliable. Moreover, this can lower expenses as a mistake in data can even result in a lawsuit!
3. It Has Become Very Inefficient
Spending considerable time on the manual administration of data from different projects is a waste of resources. By using automated scrapers that can be programmed to run scraping instructions repeatedly, you can significantly reduce the amount of time spent on data collection. This frees you up to focus on more crucial aspects of your career.
4. Your Demand and Need for Data Is Increasing
To stay ahead of the pack in today’s cutthroat business environment, it helps to have ready access to information that is useful to investors, well-structured, and correct. If you can scrape relevant data that your competitors don’t have access to, you’ll have a significant advantage in making educated business decisions. The success or failure of a business often boils down to one deciding factor: data collection and using it.
With the use of web scraping, you may quickly find any relevant information that is currently trending online. What interests consumers, what makes them click on a post, what videos they are interested in watching, what advice they seek from professionals, and so on are all examples of what may be derived from studying consumer behaviors. You’ll find it much easier to follow up on leads and complete your objectives after you have a firm grasp on all of this information and can appropriately use it.
5. It Is Becoming Too Expensive
Manual extraction means hiring more employees. There’s only so much a person can do on their own, and there’s also a limit on how fast a person can work. Manual data extraction often means hiring more and more employees to extract the data. This can become quite expensive compared to the output these employees can dish out. This makes the use of automated scapers that much more reliable and efficient.
Another thing to note here is investing in web scraping can help you lower or even eliminate your expenses for data acquisition. Data acquisition costs are very high as data is sought after by all, regardless of the industry they are in. When you invest in web scraping, you are able to extract all the data you need in a customized and tailored way that suits your needs and business demands thus, you get to save up on unnecessary acquisition costs.
Now that you have a better understanding of web scraping and the telltale signs that you need to integrate into your business, we hope that you will be able to make sound decisions. Also if you do decide to integrate it into your business, make sure to maintain web scraping best practices as failing to maintain them may even result in a lawsuit!
- What are some examples of illegal data extraction?
Here are some examples:
- Extraction of Personal Data
- Extraction of copyrighted Data
- Information that the website has marked as being private and off-limits.
- Information that breaches the terms of service and/or the terms and conditions of websites.
- The information which doesn’t have permission.
- Anything that goes against the robot.txt file
- Failing to abide by CCPA, CFAA, and GDPR.
- What is the Robot.txt file?
The Robots.txt file is a text file that website owners can use to instruct crawlers, bots, or spiders on whether or not a website should be scraped, as well as how the website should be scraped. In order to avoid getting blacklisted while online scraping, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the robots.txt file.