Can you imagine what you would be able to do for your business if you had more data? If you could monitor your competitors’ prices, you’d always be able to stay one step ahead. You could easily adjust and optimize your strategies with enough data on marketing trends.
There are so many different areas of your business that can benefit from more public data. But how can you get your hands on this data? The answer is web scraping.
In this article, we will look at what web scraping is and how it can benefit your business. We will also be looking at some of the tools you need to start harvesting public data.
The tools we cover will include web scrapers and a residential proxy such as those provided by Smartproxy. After reading this article, you’ll be armed with the knowledge of web harvesting and how to get started.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is not a new process. The practice has been around for many years. However, it’s only been in the last few years that it’s grown in popularity, which has led to the creation of software that automates the web harvesting process and makes it faster and more efficient.
Web scraping is the process of collecting specific public data from many different websites and compiling it into a single format so that it can be evaluated or used in different ways. Basically, you’ll set parameters on your web harvesting tool regarding the type of information you want to be collected, i.e., product prices.
Then you run the software, and the program will automatically search the internet, collect the requested public data, and parse it to make it readable. After parsing, the information will be compiled into your requested format, such as a spreadsheet.
How Is Web Scraping Used?
Web scraping can be used for a variety of reasons. What you’re able to do with the public data you collect is only limited by your imagination.
For example, an individual can use web scraping to collect the prices of a specific item to get the best deal. Alternatively, someone might use web harvesting to compile a list of all the properties for sale in their area when looking for a home to buy.
You can also enjoy many benefits from web scraping when it comes to your business. You can use web harvesting at the start to conduct market research and cost analysis for your business plan. You can also use web scraping to determine the cost of similar products sold by competitors to ensure your pricing stays competitive.
Web harvesting can also be used to gather valuable statistics to make your client proposal more compelling.
There is no limit to the uses of web scraping for your business. Here are a few more areas where web harvesting can benefit your business.
- Lead generation
- Price comparison and monitoring
- Pricing intelligence
- Enriching machine learning technology
- Financial data aggregation
- Monitoring consumer sentiment
- Tracking news
- Data analysis
- Academic research
What Is Ethical Web Scraping?
It is essential to scrape data ethically. Unfortunately, there have been those who have abused this tool. Some individuals try scraping information they shouldn’t, such as personal details or content behind security measures such as logins and more.
There have also been those scrapers who send multiple scraping requests to the same website, which slows down the website and can lead to crashes.
To enjoy the benefits that this tool brings, we have to ensure that it is used ethically. Part of this is to ensure that you only scrape public data and never try to collect personal information or content that is protected by logins, passwords, or other measures.
It is also important that you not overwhelm the website you are scraping with numerous requests. Instead, stagger your requests or set the scraping for a time when the website’s traffic is slow. Finally, make sure that you use any data collected respectfully and never pass off collected data as your own.
Do I Need to Use a Proxy When Web Scraping?
Yes, you should use a residential proxy when collecting data. While it is possible to use a data center proxy, a residential proxy is much more reliable when it comes to web scraping. This is because residential proxies are linked to real devices with IPs and an ISP.
As such, any requests from this proxy will look like a real web visitor and won’t get banned, so you can collect more data and ensure that the collected data is accurate.
Final Thoughts- What Is Web Scraping 2023?
Web scraping is a legitimate way for businesses to collect public data that can be used to make essential business decisions. Web scraping public data is legal as long as you respect the websites you’re collecting from, as well as the data you collect.
Why not try a test run in collecting some data for your business and see how it benefits you.