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Web scraping is a popular tool that has proven to be very useful for businesses and individuals. Businesses are reliant on data and information to make business decisions. This process continues long after the initial business planning. You need data to help plan your prices, monitor your competitors and see what clients say about you. But how can you get your hands on this data without spending many hours manually collecting it?
In this article, we’ll be looking at the definition of web scraping. We’ll also be looking at programming in Python, which is the most popular programming language for web scraping. Finally, we’ll also look at a few different ways to use web scraping for your business. Keep reading to discover how web scraping can benefit your business.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the automatic process of collecting vast amounts of data across many different websites and compiling the information into a single format. From here, the users can analyze and manipulate the data to gain insights and valuable market trends to use when making business decisions. Web scraping makes it possible to collect all of the information you need to make essential business decisions. For example, with web scraping, you can collect the prices of all your competitors’ products to ensure that you price your own products competitively. This is just one of the many ways that web scraping can be used.
Web Scraping In Python
When it comes to building your own web scraper, the most popular coding language is Python. Python also has an extensive framework for web scraping tools known as BeautifulSoup, making it possible to create a truly custom web scraper to meet your specific needs. By building your own web scraper, you can create a more powerful tool with all the features that you require. Python also isn’t the only coding language you can use for web scraping. Many other languages, such as Java, can also be used effectively for building web scrapers. The language you use depends on which one you’re most comfortable with.
Other Web Scraping Tools
If you don’t know Python or another coding language, don’t stress. There is still a way to benefit from web scraping with no coding knowledge. Numerous tools have been developed that allow users to collect data without requiring coding. Tools like Octoparse, ParseHub and Smart Scraper are examples of such programs.
What Is Web Scraping Used For?
Web scraping can be used in many different ways to affect various sectors of your business. It can be used for market research by collecting data on your competitors, their products, and the content they create. You can also use web scraping to improve your pricing intelligence. By collecting your competitors’ prices, you can ensure that you price your products competitively. You can provide a dynamic competitive pricing strategy by checking competitors’ prices frequently.
Businesses can also scrape search engine results to discover keywords and where you rank for specific keywords. You can compare your ranking with your competitors, and if they outrank you, you can see why and improve your content to surpass them.
There are many use cases for web scraping. Here is a list of them:
- Pricing intelligence: Dynamic pricing, revenue optimization, product trend monitoring, competitor monitoring, brand and MAP compliance.
- Market research: trend analysis, market pricing, optimizing point of entry, competitor monitoring, research and development.
- Financial data: Insights from SEC filings, estimating company fundamentals, integrating public sentiment and news monitoring.
- Real estate: determining the property value, monitoring vacancy rates, assessing rental yields, understanding market direction.
- News and content monitoring: Public sentiment analysis, competitor monitoring and political campaigns.
- Lead generation.
- Company automation.
- Lead generation.
Is Web Scraping Legal?
Web scraping public data from websites and search engines is legal. Any publicly available information can be collected. However, it is recommended that you read and respect the website’s rules before scraping. Never try to scrape data behind a login or other form of security measures, as this data is not considered public. It is also essential that you understand how to use your collected information. You can analyze the data and use it to draw conclusions and make business decisions, but you cannot pass off content (articles, images, etc.) as your own as this can be a copyright infringement.
Web scraping is gaining popularity, with more businesses discovering the vast benefits it can have. While web scraping public data is legal, you should always be respectful of the information you collect and follow the rules of the sites you’re scraping.