web scraping
Software

Web scraping and how to use it in the XXI century

Web scraping is a relatively recent invention intended to greatly simplify the lives of everyone who, in one way or another, faces the need to collect data online. 

Scrapingis a technology that uses scripts to enter the site under the guise of a regular user and collects information on pre-established parameters. Thus, it is possible to extract, process, organize, and save (in plain text format) the data of thousands of web pages within minutes.

In the most general form, Web Scraping of data refers to a method in which a computer program extracts data from information source created by another program. Data cleanup usually manifests itself in the process of using an application to obtain valuable information from the website. 

Why scrape the website data?

As a rule, companies don’t want their unique content to be downloaded and reused for unauthorized purposes. As a result, they don’t provide all the data through a consumable API or another readily available resource. Scrapers, on the other hand, are interested in obtaining website data regardless of any attempts to restrict access. As a result, web scraping is trying to outplay different content protection strategies. 

The process of web scraping is quite simple, although its implementation can be complex. It occurs in 3 steps:

  • First, the piece of code used to extract the information sends an HTTP GET request to a specific website. 
  • When a website responds, scraper analyzes the HTML document for a specific data template. 

Once the data is extracted, it is converted to any specific format developed by the scraper author.

Web scraping for marketing (and more)

Sometimes you need to retrieve data from web pages and store it in a structured way. In fact, data extraction is what a person does when going to the site. The user “scrapes” the data he/she needs, “puts” them in the cortex, and maybe even “divides” them into the cells, columns, etc. Web scraping is the same thing. 

A script is created that simulates the user, goes to the site under the guise of a browser, receives the HTML code of the page (just as the user’s browser would do), but doesn’t collect the page from it, but pulls out the necessary text information, classifies and it arranges it into cells. This script is usually called web parser.

Possible scenarios for using web scraping tools:

  • Data collection for market research.
  • Extraction of contact information (email addresses, phone numbers, etc.) from different sites to create your own lists of suppliers, manufacturers, or other persons of interest.
  • Downloading solutions from Q&A sites to enable offline reading or storage of data from different sites, thus reducing dependence on Internet access.
  • Search for jobs or vacancies.
  • Tracking the prices of goods in different stores.
  • Creation of the lists of suppliers, manufacturers, sellers, etc. for commercial use. Contact information is extracted from various sites.
  • Collection of targeted information for market research.
  • Search for vacancies or employees.
  • Monitoring and comparison of the prices of goods in different stores.
  • Reducing dependence on Internet access to download data from various websites for the possibility of offline reading.

To optimize retail prices, companies create entire departments engaged in scraping. They collect price data from all over the Internet: from shoe retailers to industrial equipment, and use machine learning algorithms to help their customers decide how much to pay for different products.

Scraping may seem ominous, but it’s a part of working online. Search engines also use scraping of web pages to index them. And academics and journalists use software to collect data. Some use the service “Brand intelligence.” In this way, they find out which retailers charge for their products to make sure they comply with price agreements.

Thus, it can be concluded that the use of web scraping in marketing allows you to determine the main goals of the company, create advertising maneuvers and build a promotion strategy, as well as identify strengths and weaknesses and be a competitive organization in the market.