Data is growing, and at a breakneck pace. The IDC study titled Data Age 2025 puts it that worldwide data generation will grow to a staggering 163 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025. And with such data explosion, how can your business grab a chunk of the “big pie” and use it to gain a competitive advantage? The answer is simple — web scraping!
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the terminology for describing the different methods of data collection across the internet. You can initiate the process with a web scraping software that simulates human web surfing and collects bits of information from various websites. People who use web scraping software want to collect certain kinds of data to sell to others, or it could be for promotional purposes on a website.
Importance of Web scraping for Business
Web scraping is useful to many companies. Regardless of your company, you can leverage data to take your business to the next level. The level of importance of web scraping is in two ways:
- Essential – Businesses using web data
- Optional – Businesses seeking to supplement internal data
Let’s dive in to provide more clarification. Web data is vital for price comparison and acts as fuel for a web application. For a new aggregator, sourcing new articles would be paramount as well as getting snippets from other outlets too.
But with a market research firm preparing a report as regards the job market will need to do their primary research and also require web data from different job boards. In this case, we may say web data is not essential. However, it provides some level of clarity and completeness to the project.
Benefits of using Web Scraping
When you scrape using your web scraping software—especially if you know how to do it correctly — the results reveal information that helps improve your bottom line. The following are the benefits of web scraping for business.
It Breeds Innovation
With the web scraping in the mix, businesses are creating new products and taking innovation to the next level.
Let’s look at a site like Kayak — a price comparison site — or even a job board created with information from various sources. Imagine for one minute their existence without extracting web data — impossible, I guess?
Web scraping raises the bar in terms of innovation for companies as they try to outdo their competitors at every point.
Building a Sales Machine via Lead Generation
With access to company data, there’s a possibility to create an automated sales machine. Taking a look at the previous example, you’ll quite agree that you need to search out information about any company before you can fill out their company’s profile.
You can do a few things manually and automate others:
- A LinkedIn search to find companies that fit your requirements
- A local business search using Google Map
- AngelList companies search for startup companies.
Automation of Marketing Efforts
Let’s assume you have spotted one of your competitors on social media. And you’re shocked at their community of over 30k followers. However, you believe your product offers better value, and you can win them over.
Now you want to play smart. So what’s your next line of action? Scrape! Search for their page and extract their followers.
What to look out for in Web Scraping Software
No doubt, there is severally web scraping software out there. The right web scraping tool should scrape effectively even with little time.
The following factor will come in handy in your search for the right web scraping tool for your business.
Ease of use
The right web scraping software should be newbie-friendly with no complexity of any sort — and give accurate results. The automation should be such that delivers within the shortest time. It should not feature certain types of formats when generating results — good tools provide result in CSV, Excel, and XML.
Feature Learning Tutorials
The right tool must offer tutorials that point you in the right direction. New users can leverage the learning materials—they’re not familiar with its working principle. Such tutorials will suffice to get along and learn pretty quickly.
A cloud service is essential for users who engage in nonstop data extraction. It is fast extracting from a couple of websites rather than using one computer to achieve the same goal. You’ll benefit in cost-saving and time of extraction. By spending less time on this, you can have more time for other pressing matters that need your attention.
Businesses are getting ahead in their sphere of endeavor and delivering best-in-class products and services. They go as far as outperforming their competitors, create better values, and remain relevant doing the same thing but in a better way. All thanks to this simple yet effective tool.
One of the tools that I can’t recommend enough is an oxylabs.io solution called Real-Time Crawler. Currently, it’s the leading product on the market that allows capturing any data from the web effortlessly. It’s definitely worth a look if you are serious about getting into the web scraping world.