Web Scraping – What, Why, And How

Data is King, and it’s a universal truth now. Businesses that want to have a hold of quality data that can help them to leverage productivity, effectiveness, and market penetration must use web scraping to have a hold over relevant data.

Web scraping is indeed a savior in today’s data-driven world. It aims at providing instant access to accurate data, but there is a lot more for you to understand about it.

What is it? Why is no code web scraping trending? How to make the most of this technology? These are some of the questions that we’ll discuss next in the article.

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#Nocode – The Attention Worthy Trend

Before we talk about web scraping, let’s talk about why the world is going ga-ga over no coding or zero coding solution. Recently, the developer community has started supporting the use of software/applications that ask for no coding or barely minimum coding. Such applications are easy-to-use and empower start-ups.

No code tools won’t ask much of technical competency that makes them suitable for start-ups and small businesses. They are ready-to-use tools and are loved by all. They have become so popular that most start-ups are using these solutions.

The Relation Between No Coding and Web Scraping

Web scraping is the process of collecting data from the internet. We will explain this in detail in the next part of the post. What you need to learn right now is web scraper, an essential component of web scraping that asks for heavy coding. One must have codes for page loading, data parsing, capturing and processing actions, and even for dealing with IP blocks.

All in all, web scrapers demanded extensive coding.

The #NoCode movement focuses on using tools and technologies that ask for no or minimal coding for web scraping. APIs, Python web scraping, Selenium web scraping, and using fewer coding services are the available options right now.

Web Scraping – Unleashing The Power of Internet Data

Data is what drives or fuels the digital economy. Those who can use data effectively are going to be future leaders. However, it’s not easy to sort, analyze, and make the available data work for your good. Other than time and effort, this job demands unspoiled perfection and expertise.

Web scraping has come up as a viable data handling solution. A modern technique used to gather data/content from the internet, web scraping or data scraping, is here to help businesses use data in its full swing. It happens all the time.

For instance, you found a method to fix an iPhone on the internet (VPN for iPhone), and you copy the content on your device into an Excel spreadsheet for future reference. It is a simple form of web scraping.

In enterprise and for a bigger aim, this is done at a large scale and collects a missive data amount. At times, the job becomes so hectic that it goes beyond the reach of human capacities. That is where web scraping bots or applications come to your rescue.

These tools are designed in a way that they visit different websites, web pages, and other internet resources to seize relevant data. This mechanical form of web scraping is useful when one has to have a massive amount of data in a short period.

  • Nature of data collected

Web scraping mostly collects highly unorganized and unstructured data and saves it in HTML format. Later, it gets converted into structured data and saved in a spreadsheet. The captured data is flexible enough to be modified in any form. It can be used in any kind of application.

  • Ways to perform web scraping

Web scraping is a highly versatile process and allows users to adopt multiple ways to gather relevant data from different websites.

One can take the help of pre-vetted online services available via the pay-as-you-go method. It’s the most hassle-free way for web scraping but can become a bit pocket-heavy. With the help of these services, you can have web scraping software or a bot ready to help you.

There are specific APIs that are designed to perform web scraping. These APIs are also readymade solutions and are highly useful when one wants to gather goal-specific data from the internet.

Some world-famous tech companies like Facebook (VPN for Facebook), StackOverflow, Twitter, Google, and many more offer web scraping specified APIs to interested persons. Considering the efficacy and cost involved, this is perhaps the best method to get involved in web scraping on a large scale.

If you’re an expert in coding or have a team of coders at your disposal, you can easily create codes that will perform accurate web scraping. The process is time and labor extensive. However, it grants unmatched freedom and flexibility. So, if you want web scraping to be 100% customized, this is the right choice to make.

  • Components of web scraping

Web scraping is made up of two parts. The first part is a crawler and the second part is a scraper. Here, the crawler refers to the AI-based algorithm that searches the internet for the required data. It checks links after links and finds out which link carries the data you’re looking for.

The other component, the scraper, is a highly advanced tool designed to extract the data from the website. Scraper could be of any potential and reach as users are allowed to define its scope.

A scraper could be simple for a light project and have limited functionality.

Extensive projects will ask for the complex scraper. In each situation, scarpers must (essentially) capture accurate data.

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Key Use Cases of Web Scraping

Now that you have enough basic web scraping understanding, it’s time to find out the key use cases.

  • Price Monitoring

Want to have an appropriate pricing strategy for your products? Try web scraping as it allows people to scrap the product data and find out what price the competitors are keeping for the same sort of products and services. The captured data will help you find the other market players’ pricing strategies and keep your strategy a step ahead of them.

  • Do Market Research

Market research is an integral part of digital marketing strategy. For an effective market research strategy, it’s imperative to have accurate data. Web scraping will help you gather enough data required for web scraping. The technique can capture huge data amounts in the blink of an eye.

  • Keep a watch on the news

You should use web scraping news sites to keep hold of the latest news and reports. As news becomes old very fast, this process needs to be real-time and well-optimized.

  • Sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis is an emerging marketing strategy that involves knowing the customers’ sentiments related to a product. With sentiment analysis, it’s easy to find out how connected a customer feels with a product.

Web scraping is useful in this field as well. With the help of this technique, it’s easy to track people’s reviews about a specific product over social media platforms. You can collect data from Twitter and Facebook and accordingly make changes in your product/services.

  • Do Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the main use cases of web scraping. Companies use to collect email IDs from multiple internet resources. These IDs are later used to create email marketing strategies.

Which Web Scraping Tools Are Preferred

Web scraping tools are of three kinds and are categorized as per the process adopted and technique using which they interact with HTML content. Have a look at these tools:

  • HTML source code

With tools like Cheerio, you can quickly process the HTML source code. This web scraping approach is the simplest one and is useful when all the data you’re trying to capture will feature HTML source code. Just right-click on the web page of the browser and select Inspect and View Page Source. It will display HTML source code.

  • Headless browsers

Not every raw HTML code can provide essential information. It is because of the presence of JavaScript in the background. For gathering data in such a case, a headless browser will work best. You have options like Puppeteer, web scraping Selenium, and Nightmare.

  • Setting up a DOM

You can also perform web scraping with the help of building a DOM. The JSDom library helps create a string of HTML.

Conclusion

Web scraping is the need of the hour as it helps you have needful data. But, it doesn’t have to be labor extensive and time-consuming. Adopt the no-code approach and make it easy. The post explained the process in detail.

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To improve your web scraping experience:

FAQs

Is scraping websites legal?

‘Is web scraping legal’ is a question whose answer depends on how you do the web scraping.  Web scraping is legal as long as you access the freely available data. Make sure you use it for personal purposes. However, it’s wise to take the permission of the admin to access the data.

Data privacy is a huge concern these days, and it’s every business owner’s responsibility to adhere to it. You can end up in a serious mess when you republish collected data elsewhere. It’s like copyright law infringement and causes trouble. So, make sure you define your use cases of web scraping and remain extra conscious while accessing protected or copyrighted data.

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