Businesses are relying on more data than ever to stay competitive. Some businesses are even willing to pay for the information they need to guide business decisions, monitor the market, and even their competitors. Collecting the data manually can be time-consuming and inefficient. However, web scraping can provide all the data needed with little effort. So what exactly is web scraping, and how does it work?
In this article, we’ll unravel the art of web scraping and the benefits of collecting public data for businesses. We’ll also look at how to get started and the tools you need. We’ll specifically look at web scrapers and proxies, like a location-specific India proxy for expanding your business to new markets. You can read more about these types of proxies on the Smartproxy blog.
We’ll be covering the following topics related to web scraping:
- What is web scraping?
- How does web scraping work?
- How to get started with web scraping?
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping or harvesting is the automated process of collecting vast amounts of public data across many different websites. These tools collect the public data and compile the information into a single format, such as a spreadsheet, where it can be analyzed for further insights. In the past, if you wanted to know what your competitors were up to, you had to physically visit their stores or manually browse their websites. This takes valuable time, which could be better spent improving your own offerings or services. Businesses can collect different information, such as product listings, prices, contact details, and much more, by using web scrapers within a few minutes.
Web harvesting is one of the most effective ways of collecting big data in a fast, efficient, and accurate way. The industry for big data is expected to grow to $103 billion by 2027, proving just how dependent businesses are on getting valuable, high-quality data.
How Does Web Scraping Work?
Web scrapers are programs that have been specifically developed to harvest data and information from websites, search engines, and even online images. Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being created by internet users. This makes the internet a relative goldmine of knowledge and information, and web scraping allows you to get your hands on a small portion of this information to improve your business.
You will provide your web harvesting tool with the URLs that you wish to be harvested. You will also specify the type of data you want to collect, such as product descriptions, pricing, brand mentions, etc. Finally, you’ll need to specify the format that you want the data. Users frequently choose spreadsheets or something similar, as this format allows them to analyze the information better.
Once you’ve filled in the parameters you need, you can run the tool, and it will scour the websites collecting the relevant information as it goes and compiling it into the format of your choice. It’s a really easy process that saves a lot of valuable time and can provide you with high-quality data.
How To Get Started With Web Scraping?
Web harvesting might sound like a complex process, but with the right tools and a bit of thought into the data that will benefit your business, you can soon be on your way to collecting all the public data your business could ever need. Let’s take a look at the tools needed to get started.
Choose A Web Scraper
First, you’ll need a web scraping tool. If you have programming experience, you can build your own using the many available open source code to get started. Alternatively, you can also use a pre-built web harvesting tool. A few good ones include Octoparse, ParseHub, and Smart Scraper. However, there are many ‘best-of’ lists that can help you find the ideal one for your purposes.
Get A Residential Proxy
Next, you’ll need a residential proxy to bypass location restrictions and prevent your scraper from getting banned. You can also use location-specific proxies, like an India proxy, to collect local data without being in the country. In the case of an India proxy, it will change your IP to an actual device address found in India, which will make it appear you’re accessing the internet from the country. If you don’t use a proxy, it can lead to bans which will cause incomplete or inaccurate data. Poor data quality costs the US an estimated $3.1 trillion each year, so it’s essential you do what you can to ensure you collect high-quality data.
Web scraping is a great tool for collecting vast amounts of public data. Although it may seem complicated to get started, with the right web scraper and residential proxy, you can soon collect enough information to make better business decisions and stay ahead of the competition. Web scraping is a legitimate way for businesses to collect data from public sources.