Web Scraping is another widely appreciated and demanding process of pulling out valuable data/ information from online websites in automated way for different applications in both business and research science. Such a way of Web Harvesting / Information gathering is performed through software tools that not only grabs the unmanaged data from web pages but also make it available to you in a structured way so you can handle it in efficient manner. Such a job is only possible to be done with web crawling engines that are provided or fed with a list of URLs so that the crawler visits each individual url one by one and grab the information from the parts of that web page.
A wide range of web scraping solutions from both ad-hoc (which involve human interaction) to fully unattended/ automated systems are available to transform data from web pages to structured formats like Excel files, XML files and well known databases like Mysql, SQL server plus and Oracle. Such applications help you traverse and extract data from different kind of web elements present on a page being crawled like tables, divisions, paragraphs, hyperlinks, images and much more.
All business applications of such valuable information cannot be covered in this article as a whole but only some of them are described below:
- Scrape products & price for comparison sites– Online shopping websites like amazon, shopify and ebay regularly need to compare the prices of the products they sale with the prices of products being sold on other websites. This way they determine the market competition and optimize the prices according to the trend in market. In addition they need to automate the process of grabbing product description, specifications and images and then put on their website. Price optimization through the comparison of data scrapped from other websites helped improving the amount of sales average. Keeping the products prices at competitive level (lower than the market prices) is a critical facet of e-commerce, if this job is carried out manually for unlimited online products. Airline companies are in a constant battle keeping track of ticket prices offered by their competitor companies.Creating custom web scraping agents (involving massive programming skills) is a time consuming process but results in beating all the above challenges people face in eCommerce. You can also buy pre-built data scraping engines like content grabber which helps you pulling out all the products, their images, descriptions and detailed specifications so that you can use it on your website for either price optimization or to make product price comparison portal. Below in an example of such implementation on trivago.com.
- Tracking Online Presence Of a Customer: Outcome of investment Business progress is also determined through the presence of active users on your business websites, amount of reviews or customer feedbacks on products and their reactions. Performance of a product can determine the outcome of investment on that item. Keeping track of all such valuable facts and figures is not an easy job without an automated web scraping engine. Furthermore such programs also help you catch and filter out thousands of customer profiles based on their behavior regarding products that may tend to 100% convergence rate.as
- Tracking Performance Of News and Entertainment Websites– Most of the TV Channels either regarding entertainment or News provides online streaming to generate revenues through displaying ads on it. An important factor in that case is to track the time of viewer’s presence on that entertainment or news content, which helps the channel more focus on creating targeted news and entertainment content that people like the most. That critical statistics is impossible to generate without a high quality web scrape tool or data extraction agent. Such analytics help you produce more targeted visitors which ultimately improve site rankings.
- Detect Fake/ Spammy reviews– Consider a scenarios where people read reviews / comments of other people online for keeping different intentions in mind, for example: Buyers want to know customers feedbacks on products before buying it. Some on going discussion may have lots of replies from experts which help visitors solve the issues they are facing. So its very critical to detect spammy/ fake comments or replies on the articles or topics online, which may lead the viewers of topics to wrong web pages which in turn low down the site rankings. Web Scraping help you crawl every comment and detect either it is spammy or fake so that you can block out the bad guys.
- Display Targeted Advertisements to Visitors– Online advertising companies charge a pretty penny for ads they display on your behalf, but how do you know you are getting your money’s worth? Web scraping agents can be written to mimic specific user characteristics such as users surfing from a specific city (i.e., Tokyo), or speakers of a foreign language (i.e., Japanese), or users that have recently shopped for men’s business attire.
- Niche or Business Specific Data Extraction– Consider Electrical Engineers as example case: you can collect electrical engineer information like their contact details, email, company details etc. from their websites to generate a catalog electrical engineers as per their experience and their regions they are working in. As example above you can collect info regarding doctors, scientists, mathematicians, teachers and etc.
- To Keep An Eye on Your Competitors Performance– Observing competitors websites or social media pages on facebook, twitter, Google place etc, to keep an eye on the response of their customers upon their products and services. It may help you make future decision making process easier; to determine the changes you may need in future products. Data process can help you automate such a process and grow your business fast.
- Analyzing Organic Search Results for SEO- Search Engine Optimization specialists often use organic results generated after searching terms in google or yahoo to assess other websites. It is done to determine titles and keywords those web pages are optimized for. That way it is so easy for SEO specialist to follow the same steps to optimize websites in order to drive more traffic. Which categories and hyperlinks are engaging most of the visitors. Such a repetitive task can be well automated through web scraping engines which may reduce time and effort.
- Leads Generation– Creating potential sales is a critical job which is why leads are important to organizations. A dedicated sales team uses scraping tools to gather contact details of targeted customers from online websites like sulekha, Yelp and just dial etc. Then they contact those customers and give them brief intro about the products they sale. It’s a best way to increase growth in sales. Scraping agents help you perform such a task very quickly and every day feed the sales team with new customer data.
- Events ManagementWebsites– is another application of web scraping where you can traverse all tens of thousands of events organizing websites in Canada and consolidate all the events in one database which is linked to your website.
- Job Board Websites: Thousands of job from world’s popular companies are posted on one websites. Web Scraping is the only possible solution that fuels such kind of job board website with millions of job posting entries which manually posting them on a website is out of the bound of a human being. On the other side companies that are regularly hiring highly qualified people also use web scraping to find out people from websites like LinkedIn (where people create their profile with qualifications and experience mentioned). They use conditions in scraping software to find people from specific geographical locations, having specific experience and qualifications. Contact details like emails and Phone numbers are now possible to be taken into large databases and structured files. Below is practical example of a job board website naukri.com.
- Online reputation management : Do you know 50% of consumers read reviews before deciding to book a hotel. Now scrape review, ratings and comments from multiple websites to understand the customer sentiments and analyze with your favorite tool.
- To build vertical specific search Engines– This is new thing popular in the market but again for this a lot of data is needed hence web scraping is done for as much public data as possible because this volume of data is practically impossible to gather.
Web scraping has not only grown out thousands of businesses in various ways but automated tasks that were time consuming and costly. Now you don’t need to hire other companies to gather critical information like customer details, product specifications, user feedback surveys and competitors business statistics. There are many prebuilt scraping solutions available in the market that will do all above mentioned work for you quickly and nicely.
Web scraping field has no boundaries; as businesses grow, demand for online data extraction increases to constantly monitor the business strategies and moves of the competitors.
As I have personally used Content Grabber for my web scraping solutions, I would suggest you to look at its features. If you have some other applications of web scraping function in your mind please share with use through comments below.