Data and information have become one of the most valuable commodities for businesses. Not only do businesses rely on data to do market research, evaluate the competition, identify trends, and for pricing intelligence. There isn’t an industry today that wouldn’t benefit from data. With the realization of the importance of data came a new hurdle, how to collect the data efficiently. This is where the technology of web scraping came into its own.
By using web scraping tools along with data parsers and proxies, you can have the recipe for a consistent income of valuable data that you can use to improve various aspects of your business. Some providers, like Smartproxy, even provide scrapers that include parsers and can easily be connected to one of their proxies for a seamless and straightforward solution.
In this article, we’ll cover what web scraping is and reliable web scrapers you can use. We’ll also discuss the link between scraping and data parsing, the import role both these processes have, and the benefits they offer. Finally, we’ll look at some of the problems you may encounter, such as parsing errors or bans.
Defining Web Scraping
Web scraping can be described as the process of collecting or harvesting specific data across many different websites. This data can then be compiled into a single format, often something like Excel or similar, and from here, it can be analyzed. In the past, this could’ve been done manually. Someone scrolled through the websites and copied the necessary data into a document or spreadsheet. This was not the most effective way of doing this as it was very time-consuming.
However, with the advances of technology, we can now use programs to automate the process of web scraping so that the data can be collected faster and more efficiently. You can build your own web scraper using the widely available open-source code if you have some coding knowledge. Alternatively, you can use already-built programs like Octoparse, ParseHub, or ScrapeBox.
The collected data can then be analyzed and used to improve various aspects of your business. For example, you can use the data collected to better understand security, find business opportunities such as starting your own aggregator business, and many more.
Using a reliable proxy, preferably a residential proxy, with your web scraping and parsing tools is also recommended. The proxy will be the middleman between you and the websites you are scraping. This will keep your information hidden and private. Using a proxy will also decrease the chances of being banned from a website while scraping, which means you can collect more data. This results in more accurate results from your scraping efforts.
The Link Between Web Scraping and Data Parsing
Web scraping and data parsing go hand-in-hand, which is why most good web scraping tools have built-in data parsers. A data parser converts data from one format to another. When it comes to web scraping, the data parser takes the raw code that’s been collected and converts it into readable text.
The web scraper can only collect raw data, and the parser can only convert data given to it. The web scraper cannot convert the raw HTML data without the parser, and the parser cannot collect the data independently. As such, these two are dependent on one another to deliver the end result, which is data that can be read and analyzed.
What Are Parsing Errors?
Whenever we deal with data collection, problems can always crop up. The most common issues you may encounter with web scraping and data parsing are parsing errors. These errors occur when there is a problem with the syntax or code of your program (either the web scraping tool or the parser) or if your parser is outdated. Unfortunately, since the online landscape changes so frequently, data parsers also need to be updated frequently or they will stop working, resulting in parsing errors.
Web Scraping Benefits for Your Business
There are a lot of ways that businesses can benefit from web scraping. There is no area within your business that won’t benefit from more data or information. Web scraping can benefit your sales and marketing by generating new leads, analyzing interests, and monitoring consumer sentiment. Another area where businesses have noted benefits is in competitor analysis and pricing. Scraping can help you compare prices with competitors, monitor how competitors are doing, and even which promotions are working for them.
Having more data has also proved beneficial when it comes to strategy and product development. With web scraping, you can monitor market trends to help you plan marketing strategies. You can also monitor product sentiment and popularity before adding new products to your business.
You can also use web scraping to improve your PR and brand management by tracking any mentions of your company and the sentiment surrounding your brand. This means your business can spot any negative developments and address them quickly before they can do damage to your brand and reputation.
These are just a few of the benefits your business can experience by using web scraping tools. The reality is that the benefits are only limited by how well you interpret the data and identify opportunities.
Web scraping technology has come a long way. The digital age is all about data, and with the many web scraping tools available, you can make sure to get enough data to benefit your business. By knowing more about these scrapers and how they work, you can start using them now and get a jumpstart on your competitors.