What is Web Scraping And How It Works?

If you want to know in details what is Web Scraping and how it works? This is the only blog you need to read!

What Is Web Scraping?

Web scraping refers to the process of using bots for extracting data from a website. It extracts the HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) code. The data is then stored in a database. It can be either in an excel spreadsheet or CSV file, SQL or JSON file. The scraper will replicate the website content. You can then analyze it.

Generally, website data extraction is used by people or businesses who want to collect large amounts of publicly available data for making smart decisions. 

Web scraping is used to extract what type of data?

If data is available on the website, it can be scraped off easily. Common data types that can be extracted are text, videos, images, product information, reviews, and prices. 

There are some legal rules about what data you should extract, but we will talk about it later. 

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What is the purpose of Web Scraping?

Some of the main use cases of web scraping are 

  1. Price Comparison

One of the top use cases of web scraping is price comparison. Extracting the product and its prices from E-commerce helps a business make better pricing decisions. It will be helpful in revenue optimization, competitor monitoring, dynamic pricing, etc. 

  1. Market research

Another important use case is market research. It is critical information that should be accurate always. The research would prove to be insightful for the development of new products. You will also get to know what’s trending in the market, market price, etc. What discounts and offers are your competitors offering etc? 

  1. Real estate

The digital transformation of real estate has brought new players into the real estate business. Using web scraped data real estate agents and brokerages can make informed decisions. They understand the market direction and the appraisal of property value. The new estimates for rental yields or vacancy rates.

  1. Content Monitoring

If your business requires to stay updated with the news data. Web scraping news data is the solution. You will be able to monitor and parse the critical stories related to your industry. You will be able to understand the public sentiments. You will also be able to monitor the competitors for making better investment decisions. 

  1. Lead generation

Lead generation is a crucial output of marketing strategies. With web data scraping, you can get access to structured lists of leads from the websites. 

  1. Brand monitoring

In the competitive market, it’s important to monitor your own brand too. Brand monitoring will let you sell products at a good price. By knowing and understanding public sentiments about your brand, you can make your product better with time. 

How do you do web scraping?

First, choose the website. Then select the URLs of the pages you want to scrape data from. Send a request to those URLs for its HTML pages. Using locators, look for the data in the HTML. Save the data in a CSV or JSON file or any other structured format. 

Yes, web scraping is this simple, only if you have a small project. If you have to scrape a lot of websites too frequently then you need a proper solution. Since there might be many challenges like managing proxies or dealing with antibots.

Hence you can outsource web scraping. You will just have to pay some money and you will get the data for analysis. 

If you outsource web scraping

The web scraping team asks about the purpose of web scraping. Then a team of web scraping experts writes a scraper based on your requirements. The data is collected by the team. Then, they deliver the data in your desired format. 

In theory, you can also manually copy and paste information from a website into a document. But it might be time-consuming and with some errors. So if you want to extract data from hundreds of web pages. It would be difficult for an individual. So, choose a web scraping tool or software. It will automate the data extraction process and format it in an organized structure.

What Kind of Web Scrapers are There?

There are different kinds of web scrapers. Some are

  • Pre-Built or Self-Built: If you are good at programming. You can build your own web scraper. Many pre-built web scrapers are also available. Download it and run it right away.
  • Browser extension or Software: Extension gets added to your Google or Firefox browser. They are very easy to run. You can also download web scraping software from the internet and download it into your laptop.
  • Cloud or Local: Local web scrapers will use your computer resources and internet. It might slow down your computer a bit too. Whereas cloud-based web scrapers run an off-site server. The server is provided by the scraper company. So it doesn’t use your computer resources. It will do all the work for you and notify you that your data is ready to be stored. 

Is Web Scraping Legal?

Web scraping is legal as long as you are scraping publicly available data. Web scraping public data cannot be illegal itself. What you do with that scraped data, can be illegal.  

Likewise, any publicly available data can be scraped. Problems occur when people use the data without the owner’s permission or do not follow TOS (Terms Of Service). 

For example, since all the prices are publicly available on eBay or Amazon. It is legal to scrape the price data from e-Commerce sites. However when it is about intellectual property or personal data. Web scraping can become malicious. It might result in penalties like Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

For More please read Is Web Scraping Legal in 2022?

To Sum Up

Web scraping has various types. It is used for making business improvements and collecting data. Search engine and price comparison sites won’t be possible without automated data scraping. Hence data scraping has an important role to play in making better business decisions. However, web scraping should not be misused. The wrong use of scraping can pose serious risks, so data collection should be done wisely.

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