What is a Data Scraper?
The data scraping definition is the process required to import information to a local file or spreadsheet on your computer from a website. This process is also referred to as database scraping and web scraping. Scraping is one of the most effective and efficient methods to get data from the internet. You can also channel your data to a different website. The basics are fairly simple to understand. The process has two separate parts, the web scraper and the web crawler.
The scraper is led by the crawler throughout the web to extract the data you have requested. A web crawler or a spider is a type of artificial intelligence capable of browsing the net to search and index content by exploring and following links. In most instances, the spider crawls a specific website or the net to find URLs. The URLs are then passed to the scraper. A scraper is a special tool created to quickly and accurately extract your data from a web page.
Depending on your needs, there is a wide range of scrapers with different complexities and designs. The most important part of a scraper is the selectors or data locators used to locate the data you want to be extracted from an HTML file including regex, CSS selectors, XPath or a combination of the three.
Popular Uses of Data Scraping
There are many different uses for database scraping. This is dependent on your specific needs and type of business. The most common uses are detailed below.
One of the most common uses is price intelligence. You can extract both pricing and product information from an eCommerce site to be used as intelligence for your business. This enables you to make well-informed decisions regarding your marketing and pricing based on the data you receive. The information is useful for:
- Optimizing revenue
- MAP and brand compliance
- Monitoring Competitors
- Dynamic Pricing
- Monitoring product trends
(Image Credit: Scoop.it)
Lead generation is a critical aspect for the sales and marketing activity of your business. A recent report shows 61 percent of inbound marketers stated lead and traffic generation is their main challenge. You can obtain structured leads from the internet with web data extraction.
In certain situations, accessing your data requires time and work. You might need structured data from a partner’s site or your own. Unfortunately, there is no simple method to do this internally. By creating a scraper, you can grab the data you need easily instead of working your way through a complex internal system.
Market research is essential for your business and needs to be driven using the most accurate data possible. Highly insightful, high volume and high-quality data of every type are driving business intelligence and market analysis all over the world including:
- Market pricing
- Monitoring competitors
- Point of entry optimization
- Market trend analysis
- Research and development
Due to the competitiveness of the market, protecting your reputation online is incredibly important for strict pricing policies, selling products and services online and how your products are perceived by consumers. You can get this type of information by scraping.
During the last two decades, real estate has become digital. Traditional firms are being disrupted while powerful new players are emerging. Real estate brokerages, agents and businesses can use data obtained from scraping to protect themselves from the online competition while making better and more informed market decisions including:
- Rental yield estimations
- Property value appraisals
- Understanding the direction of the market
- Vacancy rate monitoring
(Image Credit: PromptCloud)
Alternate Financial Data
Customizing web data for investors creates a lot of value. The process of making decisions is better informed and data more insightful. Scraped data is now frequently used by leading companies all over the world due to the strategic value including:
- Estimation of company fundamentals
- Monitoring news
- Integrating public sentiment
- MAP monitoring
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MAP or minimum advertised price monitoring has become standard to ensure the online prices of your brand are in alignment with your pricing policies. Monitoring your prices manually is impossible due to the massive number of distributors and resellers. You can easily watch the prices of your products by scraping.
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What is Data Scraping with Automation
You can better understand scraping by using Excel for dynamic web queries. A dedicated scraping tool is generally effective if you are scraping regularly for your business. There are numerous tools currently available on the market including:
Your Chrome browser extensions easily accommodate scraping. You can extract data directly from the web page you have loaded or experiment with different processes or recipes. The Chrome plugin is extremely effective with numerous popular scraping sources such as Wikipedia and Twitter. You have a wide variety of different recipe options for these types of websites. A good example is scraping a hashtag on Twitter. Here is a web scraper plugin on Wikipedia:
(Image Credit: Chrome)
You will receive the username for all accounts with recent postings on the hashtag including the URL and tweet. This format is extremely helpful for a PR rep as opposed to viewing the data in their Twitter browser for several reasons including:
- You can use the data for the creation of a database for your press contacts.
- Since you own the data, you do not have to be concerned it might be changed at any time or taken offline.
- You receive a list you can easily edit and sort.
- You can frequently refer to your list to find what you need as opposed to dealing with the continuous updates of Twitter.
The Chrome plugin is an impressive scraper with a good range of recipes available. Chrome offers a free version you can use to see how extracting data works for your business. There is also an intro movie available showing you how the plugin works and the easiest methods for extracting the data you need.
This is a suite of mining tools with rich features. The scraper performs the majority of the hard work. One of the most interesting features is called What’s Changed?. You receive reports when specified websites update. You can use this to conduct an in-depth analysis of your competitors.
(Image Credit: GitHub Pages)
You can take advantage of the free trial version of this point-and-click scraper. The main advantage is flexibility. The web browser is built-in enabling direct navigation to the data you are interested in importing. You can extract exactly what you want from the site by creating mining specifications. For example:
(Image Credit: WebHarvey)
One of the best benefits of scraping is gathering different data to store in a single place. Crawling enables you to gather scattered and unstructured data from numerous sources. Your data can be collected in the same place and then structured to your needs. Even if different entities control numerous websites, everything can be combined into a single feed. This means the possibilities are almost endless. The simplest way to use scraping is to retrieve data from just one source.
There might be one web page with a lot of data you find extremely useful. If you want to retrieve this information to store on your computer using an orderly format, your best option is scraping. A good way to start is locating a useful contact list through Twitter. You can use scraping for importing all of the data you want. This will show you how the process benefits your business and the work you perform daily.
Another option is an XML feed output for a third-party website. You can feed the product data from your website to numerous third-party sellers including Google Shopping. This is an important application when scraping for eCommerce. You have the ability to automate potentially difficult processes necessary to update the details of your products. This is important if you frequently change your stock. A lot of online retailers are always adding new SKU’s due to new products being stocked.
Certain eCommerce solutions do not support the appropriate XML feed you need for hooking up to the Google Merchant Center. If you are unable to advertise your top products, your bottom line will be negatively affected. The best-sellers are usually the newest products. This means you need to start advertising as soon as possible. You can produce current listings for the Google Merchant Center by scraping. The solution is excellent because as soon as you have the data, you have a wide range of options.
Once you begin using the feed, the products with the highest conversion rates can be tagged. If you do this every day, your data can be shared with Google AdWords to make certain your bidding is more competitive for these products. After you have set everything up, it is fully automated. A good feed with flexibility is important because it provides you with control. You can also make some excellent improvements in your campaigns to impress your clients.
Data Scraping Tips
Once you decide you are ready to begin scaping, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. To make certain your scraping is as effective as possible, a few important guidelines and tips are outlined below.
- Perform a fast check for the website you intend to scrape. If you see any broken links, you should avoid the site.
- Do not scrape any site containing a CAPTCHA authentication.
- If the website’s data fields have too many missing values, do not add it to your scraping list. This is a waste of your time because there is so much valuable information missing.
- Be aware looped pagination is used by certain sources. This means your scraper will begin scanning pages that have already been scraped once the last page of the website has been checked.
- Once a specific connection threshold has been reached, certain websites either completely block or limit scraping. You can finish your scraping process by activating a proxy or using different user headers. You should know the reason these actions are being taken. The owner of the site does not tolerate either web scraping or web crawling. If you consider scraping anyway, your action is considered illegal. The recommendation is to leave these types of sites alone.
- Scraping and Iframe-based websites are simply not compatible.
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Benefits of Data Scraping
There is a wide range of benefits you can achieve with scraping. Understanding the advantages is important for your business including:
Scraping Prices and Products for Competitive Analysis
Approximately 100 times more products sell through eCommerce sites than there are consumers. Imagine what you could do if you could access all of this data on a real-time database or spreadsheet. This is possible with scraping. You can use a pricing strategy driven by current data to influence the buying decisions of consumers.
You can set your product pricing for cost-conscious consumers as they browse the internet to ensure your price is less than the base price of the market. The result is optimizing your revenue. Scraping also enables you to monitor products for availability and stock count changes so you can leverage everything to your advantage.
Your company brand is an extremely valuable asset. You should monitor numerous channels including social media to find out what consumers are saying about your business. This includes your products, company and customer service. You can get all of the data you need from a variety of different channels to measure and monitor the success of your business over time simply by scraping.
You can make important competitor comparisons, use analytics to monitor social media, obtain an actionable list of insights and analyze massive numbers of blog posts and tweets. For example:
(Image Credit: Brand24)
There are more customer opinions on online review websites than anywhere else on the internet. Thousands of consumers are posting every day regarding experiences with services and products. Massive amounts of data are easily scraped and available to the public. You can find important insights for competitors, trends, business and potential opportunities.
Combining natural language processing or NLP with scraping enables you to determine the reactions of your customers regarding your products or services. You can also find feedback on your campaigns.
Making certain you have recent and correct information is the most important requirement for acquiring new leads. Scraping is effective because the majority of data on the web is unstructured. You already know the niche and industry of your competitors. This means you can scrape the online platforms, social media accounts. forums and community forums of your competitors by using or developing a scraping tool.
You can see which consumers are engaging and following your competitors and what is being discussed. Scraping tools allow you to scrape reviews, acquire new leads and build your email database. All of your data can be exported to your database or CRM to ensure your life becomes a lot easier. Scraping is useful for recruiting businesses to determine the new talent being considered by their competitors. Data can be scraped from the job aggregation websites to provide you with an edge.
SEO Tracking for Search Engine Results
Whether you are just beginning or an established veteran, you are probably familiar with SEO or search engine optimization. The main purpose of SEO is increasing traffic to your site so you can convert more leads. Scraping enables you to collect massive amounts of data quickly to determine the type of content being posted, the PPC ads running and keywords being optimized so you know what your competitors are doing.
Once you have acquired the necessary data, you can conduct an analysis to determine the best possible strategy for your website niche.
Future of Data Scraping
Even if you do not require scraping for your business at this time, understanding the process and benefits will most likely become important within a fairly short period of time. You can find scrapers on the market using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Input recognition is consistently improving including imagine recognition only interpreted in the past by humans. The video and image improvements made in scraping have become incredibly important for digital marketers.
Scraping continues to become more and more in-depth; which means you can determine more about the images you see online than ever before. Running your business is much easier when you take advantage of text-based scraping. The number one scraper is currently Google. Eventually, Google will be able to obtain as much information from an image as a page of copy. Once the accuracy rate improves, the possibilities are endless. If you are a digital marketer, scraping has become an essential component for your success.
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Data scraping helps digital marketers, like you, get structured data in a more automated way. This can help with your paid campaigns, keyword review and other critical components of a good website.
Web scraping isn’t illegal. It just automatically gathers data a person would get on a website.
Data scraping can be a powerful tool, in the right hands. In the wrong hands, it can lead to an unfair competitive advantage or theft.
Scraping can easily be detected by looking for repetitive browsing patterns. If you don’t want to be detected, you need to change up your patterns every now and again. Some sites have advanced anti-scraping measures.
Throttling is used to combat screen scraping and can be provided by a WAF or Cloud platform, which would limit the number of requests an IP can have.