Web Scraping – Uses, Benefits, and Getting Started￼
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We are finding ourselves in an increasingly competitive online market. The only key to success is doing systematic market research and staying ahead of competitors on every possible front, from sales and content strategies to SEO and search engine rankings. To make the best business decisions and maintain a lead is by using web scraping to collect data for your team to analyze and base decisions on. Without reliable data, your business will be making decisions without a sound basis. You’ll be taking shots in the dark, hoping to hit the target.
In this article, we’ll discuss what web scraping is and how it can be used to benefit your business. We’ll also look at the best languages for web scraping and how they compare. If you want to learn more about coding languages for web scraping, check out this article. Finally, we’ll mention some of the tools you can use to get started with web scraping.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the process of automatically collecting large amounts of public data from websites. This data is then compiled into a single format, like a spreadsheet, which can then be analyzed for trends and insights. Web scraping is often referred to as web extraction or harvesting. It is an entirely legal way of collecting data, as long as you only extract data from public sites and always respect the website rules when scraping. Never attempt to collect data or information protected behind log-ins or other security measures, as this data is not considered public.
Benefits Of Web Scraping
Here are a few of the benefits of using web scraping:
- Streamlines market research efforts.
- Provides valuable data for effective decision-making.
- Monitor your business’s online search engine rankings.
- Identify areas that need improvements such as sales strategies, marketing, content creation and customer experience.
- Monitor competitors.
- Identify gaps in the market or new consumer needs.
- Monitor brand sentiment.
How To Use Web Scraping?
Many different web scraping applications can have benefits for businesses and individuals. Whether you want to find out what your competitors are charging or what properties are available in your area – web scraping can help give you the answers. Let’s look at some of the more widespread use cases of web scraping.
You can use web scraping to monitor your competitors, how they use PPC, how they describe products, their pricing models, etc.
You can scrape search results to find out who your competitors are for a specific keyword and even what type of content you need to create to surpass them in the rankings.
You can use web scraping to discover what is said about your brand or product. This is especially useful when someone has a negative opinion as it gives you a chance to respond to their comments and concerns and address the problems.
You can use web scraping to collect potential leads as well. By scraping public sources such as the yellow pages or LinkedIn’s public profiles, you can identify potential clients that your sales team can target.
Creating content that ranks well and converts the target audience can take a long time. However, you can start collecting the type of content your audience responds to with web scraping. You can research topics and gather factual information and credible sources to ensure you create the right content for your audience.
What Is The Best Language For Web Scraping?
When it comes to software languages for extracting data, the best coding language for web scraping is Python. Although it’s possible to use other coding languages such as Java, Python is the most popular one for web scraping. One of the reasons is that Python is a great all-rounder language that handles web crawling processes smoothly. Many web scraping frameworks built for Python, such as Beautiful Soup, make web scraping with this coding language easy. It’s essential to know that there are no-coding options if you aren’t familiar with coding languages. However, using a coding language gives you many more ways to use web scraping for your individual needs.
Web Scraping Python Vs Java
While Python is considered the best language for web scraping that doesn’t mean it’s the only coding language used for extracting data from the web. The main reason for its popularity is due to the extensive Beautiful Soup library that makes it easy to navigate and search through parse trees. Java has its own library, called Jsoup, which is just as effective at web scraping. Choosing which coding language you use to scrape the web comes down to which language you’re most familiar with.
Web scraping can be used to monitor and improve many different facets of your business. If you have coding skills, you can use existing frameworks to build your custom web scrapers to work precisely as you want them to. However, there are also programs available if you don’t know a coding language, but still want to benefit from web scraping.