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Individuals and businesses are looking for innovative ways to use technology to their advantage in our increasingly competitive world. One of the most useful pieces of software for businesses and individuals alike is web scraping. This process of automatically collecting data is becoming more popular and has a massive effect on businesses and individuals that use these tools.
In this article, we’ll look at what web scraping is, and we’ll look at some use cases to illustrate how these tools can be used. We’ll also be looking at how to start web scraping. One of the most popular ways is using Python for web scraping. However, this isn’t always possible for everyone. There are easier ways to start scraping the web, like this one, for example.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is a process for automatically collecting large amounts of data across websites and SERPs (Search Engine Result Page) and compiling the information into a single format for easier analysis. There are many advantages and benefits of having this information readily available. The main reason is that it provides business owners and individuals with enough information to make informed decisions.
Web Scraping Use Cases And Benefits
Let’s take a look at a few ways that web scraping can be used and the benefits this process may have for your business.
Data Analytics and Data Science
Machine learning algorithms are becoming more popular. However, for these to work effectively, they require large amounts of data to ‘learn’ from. Collecting all the data needed can be a time-consuming task; however, it’s possible to collect all the necessary data quickly and effectively with web scraping. A real-life example would be GPT-3, which impressed the computer science community with its realistic text generation built from textual content scraped from the web.
Marketing and Sales
There are many different uses of web scraping for marketing and sales. From collecting competitors’ prices to developing your pricing strategy, ensuring minimum advertised price (MAP) compliance.
SERP scraping is another popular use of web scraping to improve marketing and sales. By scraping the search engine results page, you can monitor where you fall in the rankings, keywords you are ranking for, where to improve the content to rank better, and monitoring your overall SEO strategy.
Web scraping can be used to research your competitors in a few different ways. You can identify leads, monitor brand awareness and sentiment, and more. You can do SERP scraping to find out how your competitors rank for certain keywords, ie. Are they ranking higher than you? Why is that? How can you improve your SEO and content to outrank your competitors? You can also collect, analyze and monitor your competitors and spend to improve your campaigns.
Web scraping can be used for brand monitoring. Using web scraping, you can collect data on who mentioned your brand or products and what they said, and from there, you can decide how to respond. If they had a negative experience, responding right away can change the opinion of your brand from negative to positive. You can also identify potential influencers by monitoring mentions of your brand, products, or niche.
You can use web scraping to conduct viability research before developing a new product. In doing this, you can see whether there will be enough demand for a new product to justify the development. You can also use web scraping for market research to improve the different strategies of your business, such as sales, marketing, and SEO strategies.
How To Perform Web Scraping?
Although many prefer using Python for web scraping, not everyone understands this coding language. There are easier ways to scrape data without having to understand the Python coding language.
The first option is cURL (client URL). cURL is free, open-source software that works on most devices and operating systems. The program allows you to collect and transfer data using URL syntax. cURL is popular to use because it is so flexible and adaptable. It also supports more than 20 protocols, proxies, SSL connections, FTP uploads, and more.
Another option is Terminal (aka. console or command line). Terminal is an interface found on macOS and Linux devices that lets you automate many tasks without a GUI (graphic user interface). Simply put, you give Terminal text-based commands to do certain tasks. One big benefit of using Terminal is that it’s very fast, thanks to not having a GUI.
If these three methods, Python, cURL, and Terminal, seem too complex, don’t fear. There are also simpler programs such as Octoparse, ParseHub, and Smart Scraper that have been specifically developed to make web scraping easy for anyone.
Web scraping is an extremely useful tool for businesses and individuals alike. With many options available, you don’t have to learn a programming language like Python to get started. Understanding how you can use web scraping and the tools needed can set you on your way to collecting all the data you need to make the best decisions for your business.