Web scraping or extracting data has existed for a long time has become quite important for constantly building new products. Almost all the bloggers and online entrepreneurs know about web scraping. But bad bots cause 20% of all web traffic and perform a variety of harmful activities through web scraping. Yet, web scraping, if used in good way, can be a useful technology. So, here's everything that one needs to about Web Scraping.
Good bots enable search engines to index web content, price comparison services to save consumers money. Yet, Bad bots fetch content from a website with the intent of using it for purposes outside the site owner’s control such as competitive data mining, online fraud, account hijacking, data theft, spam and digital ad fraud. Thus web scrapping was once considered illegal in India. Don’t worry if you consider yourself an entrepreneur, but still don’t know about web scraping. Let's take a leap of faith and get deep into the world of web scraping.
What is Web Scrapping?
Also known as Screen Scraping or Web Harvesting, Web scraping is a technique to extract data from websites. The data collected save directly on your computer. Web scraping provides you the data of another website that can be used to promote your own business or sell it to others. It is usually done by making bots, but nowadays, many software is available to do this job. However, you can also do this by gathering and saving the specific data of the websites into your computer manually, but only if you can wait forever. Hence, a web -scraping software does this job in a fraction of time.
Is Web Scraping Legal in India?
It is the biggest query people have about web scraping. However, most of the websites do not allow people to web scrap their website. And why would they want to? They may not include this information on the home page, of course, but they do write about this in their Terms and Conditions section. There is no legal statement out there against web scraping, however, if they write about it on their website, they can file a case against you. Although it varies from country to country.
Uses of Web Scraping
Finding & Understanding Customers
You can find the list of your potential customers by web scraping. Also, you can check on their buying behavior, reviews of competitor’s products, trends in the market and the demand of customers, etc.
Don’t estimate the people’s opinions yourself. By web-scraping, you can check what people think of some particular type of product. It will help you to make your product according to their needs.
If you think you are overcharging your customers or you think your price is too low, then you can web scrape the competitor’s website. It will help you to finalize the price of your product.
As told before, you can scrape the competitor’s website for many purposes. You can even analyze their full website, understand their strategy and make some pretty plans for your company. Analyzing competitors and customers is an important part of any business.
You can scrape data from higher-ranked websites. After that, you can analyze their SEO strategy and rank yourself higher. However, you have to analyze all of the top websites to create your SEO strategy.
Limitations of Web Scraping
Difficult to Analyse: You might get the data from web scraping easily, but it is very difficult to organize and analyze the collected data. You may even need to hire some experts for this task.
Time: It takes a lot of time to scrape a website that has a lot of web pages. Sometimes, it even takes months to scrape the data from a website. So, it’s just impossible to web scrape data of some old players in the game, like websites of Flipkart or Amazon to analyze their strategy.
Protection Policy: Most of the websites these days, include some bots on their websites so that no one can web scrape their data. Also, as mentioned before, many websites already state about web scraping in their Terms and Conditions’ page.
Best Tools for Web Scraping
- Spinn3r - This tool is for bloggers. It is a web service for indexing the blogosphere. It gives raw access to every blog ever been published in a short time.
- Dexi.io - It enables the business to automatically and rapidly extract large scale data from any accessible web and cloud services.
- Octoparse - It is a modern visual web data extraction software that turns websites into structured data without coding. Octoparse is a free tool.
- Scrapy - Scrappy is another free and open-source web crawling framework written in python. It is originally designed to extract data but also used for APIs or web - crawlers.
- Diffbot - It is a developer of machine learning and computer vision algorithms and public APIs for extracting data from web pages (web scraping).
- Content Grabber - This app can extract data from any websites. It is used for web-scraping and web automation.
- ScrappingHub - It is a free and open-source web crawling framework written in Python.
- Data Scrapper - It extracts data out of HTML web pages and imports it into Microsoft excel.
- cURL - It is a computer software project providing a library and command-line tool for transferring data using various protocols.
- Data toolbar - It is a web scraping computer software add-on the Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome Web browser that collects and converts data from web pages into a tabular format that can be uploaded to spreadsheet or database management program.
You can do web scraping yourself if you think you can handle and analyze the data, or you can just hire a freelancer. Some people say that web scraping is not a very ethical practice to do. Moreover, they say that we always pay for it in the future. However, we support neither of them. We brought you both, the advantages and the limitations. Our job was to scrape the information and get them to you. We leave the decision of using web scraping or not, on you.
Let us know in the comment, how would you use web scraping?