What Does a Web Scraper Do?

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The advent of technology and its explosion has seen mankind exposed to more data than anyone can handle.

Every day, new data is being added to the internet. Interestingly businesses need this data to make important decisions and grow their revenue.

Businesses, regardless of their location or size, can collect this data and then customize it or manipulate it in ways that serve their benefits.

And the most efficient method of extracting data from websites today is through web scraping, an automated process that employs high-end tools to penetrate different data sources and scrape whatever is publicly available. For a deeper understanding of how you can extract data from a website, check the information in a blog post such as this.

One of the tools used for this process is the web scraper. It has made web scraping easier, faster, and more affordable, even for smaller businesses.

With this tool, as well as other tools used in web scraping, the process is met with fewer restrictions and works more automatically to gather data in real-time.

Today, we will look at what this web scraper is and what exactly it does for businesses worldwide.

What Is Web Scraping?

Web scraping can be defined as the technique commonly used in collecting a large amount of content from multiple sources on the web.

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While data exists in every corner of the internet, the web seems to house more data than other platforms, hence web scraping.

The process works automatically to harvest data from multiples on the web, social media platforms, and search engines.

The data is then transformed and parsed before storing it as a local file that can be used immediately or analyzed and used in the future.

The way the data is applied also varies, and below are some of the most common uses of web scraping:

Brand and Competition Monitoring

When businesses want to protect themselves against infringement and reputational damages, they usually turn to web scraping as it provides them with the data they need for it.

Web scraping is used to monitor a brand’s digital assets against different spaces on the internet. It can also monitor reviews to ensure the negative ones are attended to immediately.

Secondly, brands can also monitor their competition using web scraping. This is often done to see what other businesses are doing or the prices of products and services.

By checking and monitoring these, a brand can set itself apart and ahead of the competition by adopting new ways and doing things differently.

Market Research

Market research is important and a necessary step when trying to develop a new product or enter a new market.

It provides a holistic picture of what the current market is saying and provides a good idea of what is needed in other markets.

And web scraping tools are used to gather the data required for thorough market research.

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Customer Acquisition

Finding willing buyers is a crucial part of doing business successfully in today’s world. Brands need to find willing and ready people to buy their products and patronize their services.

Web scraping allows brands to easily find these customers by scraping information from larger enterprises’ websites to generate leads.

These leads are usually often familiar with the products and services and seem to need lesser conviction.

How Does A Web Scraper Function?

Web scrapers exist in different forms and types, but they all serve the same purpose, scraping data in the simplest ways possible.

The way a web scraper performs this role may differ according to how the software was engineered, but they mostly work the same way.

  • A request is sent out to a target server for data extraction
  • The web scraper accepts the request and transfers it to the server
  • It retrieves the relevant web page containing HTML or HML codes and extracts its content before breaking it down before parsing it to be stored
  • The extracted data is stored locally for use

The Main Processes of Data Extraction

The way a web scraper works should have given you an idea about what goes down during web scraping, but to be very clear, let us briefly highlight them.

The first step is to find where you want to get data from. This could be a social media page, search engine, or website. In the case of a website, get the URL you want to begin with.

Next, you will need to inspect the data page and identify the exact data you want to collect. Doing this usually helps you decide what scraper to build or buy.

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After that, build or acquire the appropriate scraping script or software to get the job done quickly and most efficiently. 

Then deploy the software to commence scraping. It often starts by visiting the initial URL but then crawls every embedded URL that holds relevant data.

All the extracted data is finally parsed and stored in your favorite format in the storage system you have made available.

The Major Ways of Extracting Data

There are two primary ways to extract data; you could either build/ buy an in-house solution or use a ready-to-use solution maintained by a third party.

An in-house solution uses dedicated tools and teams to make web scraping possible. But it can also be overwhelming and costly and may best be left for larger companies with the resources and manpower.

On the other hand, smaller and medium companies without the resources or manpower can opt for the much cheaper ready-to-use solution, web scraper API.

Not only are these more affordable and easier to use, but they can also help a brand collect very specific data from specific sources with all the normal hurdles associated with large-scale web scraping.

Conclusion

Web scrapers make web scraping possible, easier, and faster. And when you are looking for how to extract data from a website, you can use a web scraper API and enjoy more benefits without worrying about the many challenges of data extraction.

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