Web crawlers and web scrapers are specialized software tools able to access the world wide web and do interesting things with data. They both have many use cases. For instance, search engines use web crawlers to index all information found online to make it easier for users to find what they need. Web scrapers, on the other hand, can extract any data from any website.
The question here is, what does it all have to do with the world of business? Well, hundreds of thousands of companies use web scraping to extract useful data and enable a data-driven business decision process. Continue reading to find more about how it works and how it can help businesses achieve success.
The concept of web scraping and its business applications
A web crawler on its own can’t help businesses that much. Simply put, a company can’t benefit from a data set so huge. Web scraping, on the other hand, can help companies to do unimaginable things. Web scraping refers to the process of data extraction. Unlike web crawling, you can use it to extract what you want, and from the places you want.
It is an automatic process. Once you set the scraping parameters in web scraping tools, the scraper bot hits the target websites and extracts the data you told it to go for. Data is then stored in a spreadsheet or JSON file format for insights and decision making.
How can something so simple as data extraction from websites have a serious business application? Businesses all around the world have been using web scraping for quite some time now.
The most noteworthy web scraping business applications include:
Price comparison – businesses can discover subtle changes in competitors’ prices, discounts, and promotions to adjust their pricing policy and generate more sales.
Lead generation – a web scraper can extract data from consumer forums and social media platforms to help businesses identify high-quality leads.
Contact list building – an email subscription form is not the only way to build an emailing list. Web scraping can help you kickstart your contact list building efforts by extracting customers’ contact information in your target market.
Sentiment analysis – extracting valuable data from customer reviews and comments on social media can help businesses perform sentiment analysis and truly understand their customers.
Predictions and future casting – extracting big data sets can help businesses discover trends and build prediction models to get ready for the future and make decisions to align their offer with market needs.
If you are considering starting to use a web crawler tool for your business, we suggest you check the Oxylabs website for more information.
Additional web scraping tools
When people say web scraping tools, they usually refer to a bot that performs the data extraction task. However, there is more to it. Many websites have active protection to prevent the site from being overloaded by bots, including scrapers. This is why a proxy rotator is often found as a standard tool in the web scraping toolkit.
Modern web scraping solutions can also imitate human behavior, circumvent CAPTCHA, complete forms, and automatically change user-agents to carry out the tasks with no interruptions. This entire toolkit and scrapper coding are the things that make a good web scraper.
What makes these tools critical for successful web scraping?
A successful web scraping operation depends on many factors. First of all, a web scraper has to be built upon a reliable web crawler so that it can crawl through all the target URLs without skipping web pages that can potentially contain critical information.
When scrappers have to be able to obtain precisely the data you tell them to. Instead, you will end up with a chunk of data you’ll have no use for. Correctly parsing the source is another essential perk to look for. If you receive well-structured data, you can put it to use immediately.
Proxy rotation and scraper’s ability to replicate human behavior are also vital to the operation’s success as it prevents disruptions and IP bans.
How can an organization benefit from using web scraping?
Web scraping can help organizations make use of all that data found online. With ongoing pricing, monitoring organizations can undercut the competition to attract more customers and generate more profit. Prediction models can help managers future proof the organization and adopt a proactive mindset.
It can also help businesses understand their customers, personalize their offer, and build long-lasting relationships with the customer base. This data set can enable companies to develop better market penetration strategies and generate tangible results.
While a web crawler is a software big search engines use to index all websites found online, web scraping is a similar solution but aimed to help businesses retrieve useful data from online sources. With access to up-to-date and accurate data, companies can unlock their full potential and discover new opportunities in the market, thus enabling business growth and expansion.