A Complete Guide on Web Scraping

With the increase in the number of data companies or brands require, data analytics becomes vital. As the data analytics fields, machines, and artificial intelligence grow, web scraping becomes very important to obtain the large amount of data they need.

Unlike the mind-numbing and lengthy methods of getting data manually, web scraping allows for automation to enable users to access a million data sets in a few minutes. Let’s look at web scraping, how the tool works, and its applications.


What is Web Scraping?

Web Scraping
| Image Used Under CC License. Web Scraping

It refers to an automatic technique of obtaining large amounts of data from different websites. Most of the data this tool automizes is usually unstructured in HTML.

This format allows for converting the data into a structured form such as a database or spreadsheet, making it easy to store and use for various applications. Web scraping uses different ways to obtain these data from the websites.

The primary methods they use include; using particular APIs, online services, or creating a web scraping code from scratch. Importantly it’s much easier to access structured data from some large websites like Google, StackOverflow, and Twitter as they contain their APIs.

Nonetheless, many users prefer web scrapers to scrape data from websites that restrict users from accessing extensive structured data.

Webs scraping involves two parts to complete the process effectively; the scraper and the crawler. The crawler is the artificial intelligence algorithm part, which helps in browsing the web when searching for particular data. It follows the links available on the internet.

A scraper is a unique tool that extracts data from the targeted website. The scrapers come in different forms and designs depending on the projects’ scope and complexity to accurately extract the data.


How do Web Scrapers Work?

Generally, web scraping works after programmed web scrapers visit websites, grab the relevant pages or data, and extract useful information. The mechanism of action will depend on the tool or software that the user has; however, all the web scrapers follow the following principles or steps when working.

● Step 1: Making the HTTP Request to the Specific Server

When users visit a website via the browser, they send an HTTP request to the server such as a 404 error request when a server gets down. In simple terms, it’s like asking permission to access the data. After approval, the user has the freedom to access all the information, images, and data on the website. Like the users, the web scrapers will need permission to access any site; thus, they send the HTTP request to request permission to access the site they’re targeting.

● Step 2: Parsing and Extracting the Website’s Code

After getting permission to access the website, the scraper reads and extracts the HTML and XML code for the site. This code plays a crucial role in web scraping, as it determines the website’s content structure. After which, the scraper parses the code (breaking down the code into constituent parts).

The breaking down of the code into its constituent parts helps identify and extract objects and elements that the set predefined the scrapers to lose. The elements might include specific classes, tags, IDs, ratings, and text.

● Step 3: Saving All the Relevant Information Locally

Once the web scrapers access the XML or the HTML, they scrape and parse the website; the web scraper then stores all the relevant data locally. The type of data the web scraper collects and stores is determined by the owner, meaning the bot contains the information that the user instructs it to compile. The bot stores the collected data in a structured form, mainly in an excel file, like .xls or .csv format.


Application of Web Scraping

Web scraping is an essential process for users to obtain a large amount of data from different websites. Its numerous benefits make it have multiple applications across many industries. Below are some of the web scraping applications.

1. Price Monitoring

Companies can use web scraping to scrape the data of particular products easily and from their competitors’ or top-quality websites. This data will be essential to check the pricing of the products and the impacts of their pricing strategies. After getting this data, they can enhance maximum revenue collections by generating methods to fix the product’s optimal pricing.

2 .Market Research

Web scraping is an essential tool that companies use for market researchers. The companies use web scrapers to scrape data from high-quality websites. The large volumes of data become very important to analyze consumer trends. After analyzing the trends, they can develop the best direction the company should take to improve its services or products and increase revenues collection.

3. News Monitoring

When users choose to scrap the news sites, they can quickly get detailed reports on updated news. The tool becomes even more essential for companies or individuals who depend on the current or updated information for their daily activities. It’s important to understand that news reports can quickly break or make a brand or company.

4. Sentimental Analysis

When using web scrapers, it becomes easy to perform sentiment analysis. Sentimental analysis is essential if a company or brand wants to understand its product’s general sentiments. The companies’ technical team can use the web scraping technique to collect data from the different social media websites and platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The data will highlight the general sentiment of their products from the consumers. A proper sentimental analysis will be essential in making the company adjust to its product or services. For example, they can create new products or designs to satisfy their consumers’ desires and preferences and stand out among competitors.

5. Email Marketing

Web scraper can also help companies and brands to achieve their email marketing goals. Web scraping will help email marketing as it enables the companies to collect different email IDs from other websites. After the web scrapers collect the Email IDs, the users can send bulk marketing and promotional emails to the owners of these IDs.

Email marketing is an important marketing strategy that helps build the brand’s identity and improve meaningful relations with customers or potential customers.


Final Thoughts

With the increasing need for large amounts of data from different websites, using the numbing and long manual processes becomes challenging. Web scraping provides the best option to automate getting this million data sets quickly and accurately.

In addition, the web scrapers have proper mechanisms or procedures that help get the data for different companies to use for other purposes to enhance their growth and development.

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