We live at a time and age where information is readily available. Information is just a click away. With data being so easily accessible, different businesses or organizations have a way of extracting data from different websites thanks to web scraping tools. One such tool can be found at Oxylabs, go check them out to learn a bit more.
To give you a clear picture of web scraping, here are some cases where web scraping can be used.
- Web scraping assists Real Estate companies in fetching real estate listings
- Web scraping helps Sales & Marketing Intelligence companies fetch lead-related data and information
- E-commerce companies and businesses use web scraping to get price and product information
This brings us to the subject, Web scraping. What is web scraping? What does it entail? Why is scraping so important? Well, let’s find out.
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Web Scraping Tools: What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is a process that involves bots to obtain data and content from a website. The process involves extracting HTML code and the data that is stored in a given database. After getting the data, the scraper can replicate the entire content of the website in question elsewhere.
Different digital business and companies that rely on data harvesting, use web scrapers to:
- Crawl a website, analyze the content therein and eventually rank it
- Pull data from different forums, including social media. Market research companies apply this technique more often for sentiment analysis
- Compare prices – bots auto-fetch products descriptions and prices from allied seller sites
Web scraping can also be used to do fishy deals online. Something like stealing copyrighted content or undercutting prices. Any online business targeted by a scraper can really suffer massive losses, especially if the entity largely relies on content distribution and competitive pricing.
Web Scraping Tools
Web scraping tools are simply bots (software) programmed to sift through websites and databases to obtain information. The software may be customized to extract data from APIs, to transform extracted data, recognize a specific HTML structure, or store extracted data.
Web Scraping Tools: Is your Scraper Legit?
Given that all bots are designed to extract data from a site, it can be tough to distinguish legit bots from the malicious ones. Here’s how to tell if your bot is legitimate or not.
- Legit bots identify with entity/organization they scrape. For instance, a Google bot will have a Google HTTP header. An illegitimate bot will have a false HTTP – it tries to impersonate legit traffic.
- A legit bot will have a website’s robot.txt file. The file lists the pages which the bot can access and those it can’t. A malicious bot will crawl anything and everything irrespective of what the operator has permitted
Applications of Web Scraping Tools
There are different methods a business/organization can use a web scraper. Here are a few ways.
For price scraping, a company uses a scraper to target competing business databases. The goal here is to boost sales by accessing product information and pricing.
Let’s take an example of smartphone e-traders. Traders in this niche sell products of the same nature for some consistent relative prices. To remain relevant in the industry, you must offer the best prices for your products. Typically, buyers will go for the lowest prices. To gain an edge, a given vendor can use bot targeting their competitors. The bot will continuously scrape the sites of the competitors and update its pricing accordingly.
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This way, the vendor will be featured more prominently and consequently boost sales. Their competitors, on the other hand, will experience revenue and customer loss.
Web scraping tools can be used to scrape large-scale content from a target site. Typical targets may include online product websites and catalogs that rely on digital content to do business. For such companies, a scraping attack can be very devastating.
For instance, a scraper can extract data from a given online local business directory. This data can be used in spamming campaigns, released into the wild or even resold to competitors. This will definitely affect the business in terms of operation and sales.
Content scraping can also be applied in the real estate industry. Start-ups can use scrapers to be able to compete with different companies that have been in the industry for some time. Scrapers will craw various sites and fetch for listings. The bot will then list the same houses at a friendlier price. The bot will continuously check the website for any change in pricing and update its own accordingly. The same also applies to sales and marketing companies. They can use scrapers to obtain data related to sales and lead generation.
Web scraping cannot be possible without web scraping tools. No matter the industry you are in, you can always find a perfect scraper to extract useful data. With these tools, you will always have a foot forward.