The fact that data has been growing at an accelerated pace is known to all. A study by IDC predicts that by 2025, the amount of worldwide data creation will rise to a staggering 163 zettabytes (ZB). An enormous amount of data is created every single day; 2.5 quintillion bytes, to be precise. With this humongous level of data explosion surrounding our world, it’s natural to want to use it to grow one’s business. This can bring companies to the question that what’s a better way to make money through data than by web scraping?
The concept of embracing big data and employing it to grow your business neither has to be intimidating nor complicated. Web scraping comes as a saviour in this regard. Although web scraping has been around for a very long time, several businesses are yet to discover its benefits in the workplace. Let’s take a look at what web scraping is all about and how it can be put to use to generate money for your business.
What is Web Scraping?
Web Scraping (which is also often known as Screen Scraping, Web Data Extraction, and Web Harvesting) is a technique in which a vast amount of data can be extracted from websites. This data that is extracted from various websites and repositories is then saved to a local file system or database tables, depending upon the structure of the extracted data.
Interesting Read : How Web Scraping Can Help You Get Ahead in Your Market?
The data displayed on every website can only be viewed through a web browser. One doesn’t have the option of saving or downloading this data for further use, be it personal or professional. That leaves the users with just one option, namely to copy and paste the entire data, which is an arduous task that can take hours or days to be completed. Web scraping helps tremendously in this process. It aids in automating the process, wherein the data is manually copied from the websites and saved in a structured format.
A web scraping software automatically loads multiple pages one after the other, and then proceeds to extract data as per the company or individual’s requirements. All the data available on a website can be saved with merely the click of a button. Bots are involved in the scraping of data. While screen scraping is limited to copying whatever the pixels display on screen, bots have the ability to extract underlying HTML codes as well as the data stored in a database in the background.
How Web Scraping Works for Business?
There are a few basic steps involved in web scraping. They are as follows:
Ø The first step is where the crawler goes through the seed URL (also known as the base URL), following which it looks for the next URL in the data that is fetched from the seed URL, and so on.
Ø After the data has been extracted from the seed URL and stored in the temporary memory, the pointer is given the hyperlinks present in the data, and the system is then expected to extract the data from the hyperlinks.
Ø The next step for the crawler is to extract and store all the pages that it parses while moving back and forth in a single repository.
Ø Once the data is stored in the repository, the crawler needs to identify the data points and extract only the data that is required, which you can them use to grow your business.
The Importance of Web Scraping for Your Business
Regardless of whether you’re a startup or an established firm, web scraping can be helpful in many ways. From providing valuable insights to giving you an idea about your competitors, there’s a lot you can learn from it. Here are some of the uses and benefits of web scraping that makes it suitable for business purposes:
1 . Web scraping is immensely pertinent to analysts. For example, if you want to find out which product is popular among a particular age group, or whether a certain section prefers beauty products or not, all you need to do is conduct a bit of web scraping. It will give you exactly the data you need to analyse and deduce and take your business decisions accordingly.
2. If you hire someone to scrape data manually, not only will it take longer, it will also cost you a lot and will mostly be filled with errors. With so much data out there, it’s not possible for humans to scrape it in a limited period of time. Therefore, web scraping gives you the speed you desire to collect all the relevant data in the quickest possible way.
Interesting Read : 6 Best Browser Automation Tools for Web Scraping
3. It’s humanly impossible to gather huge heaps of data and not make mistakes while jotting them down or collecting them. Web scraping provides you with the necessary accuracy. This is especially vital because even a shred of inaccurate data can cause a loss to your business.
4. Keeping a close eye on your competitors is a pre-requisite for almost every business. Companies generally put their different teams, spanning from sales to marketing, to conduct this task. Questions such as their prices, latest promotional techniques, website banners, the result of their new PR campaign, etc., can help you modify your own business tactics as well. Web scraping makes this task supremely simple for you. It gathers all of this data for you to convert them into decision-making solutions.
There are several features to explore with web scraping techniques. All of these features can be brought together to help you make money and grow your business. Some of the ways in which you can make money through web scraping are listed below:
1. Scrape Price for Competitive Analysis
Web scraping can be used to crawl various stores for their website prices, product descriptions, images, and so on. This data can further be used for competitive analysis. Reports indicate that pricing optimisation techniques can improve gross profit margins by almost 10%. Having access to this information in real-time through a spreadsheet or database can be quite the gamechanger.
Data-driven pricing strategy can be used to influence a consumer’s buying decisions. By having access to the price of your competitor’s products, you can attract price-sensitive buyers by offering the same products at a lower price, thereby optimising your revenue in the process. Web scraping also alerts you regarding changes in the stock count and availability so that you can leverage it to your benefit.
2 . Lead Generation
Most of the data available on the internet is unstructured. Therefore, in order to obtain up-to-date information for lead generation, web scraping is the way to go. Since you’re already aware of the industry and niche your competitors belong to, all you need are web scraping tools to gain access to the data regarding their social accounts, community portals, forums, and other online platforms to look up who’s following them or engaging with them.
Web scarping allows you to acquire leads, build an email database, scrape reviews, and then export all the data to CRM or database. Companies can also inquire the kind of new talent their competitors are looking to hire.
3. Brand Monitoring
It’s essential to know how the world perceives your company as a brand. With web scarping, you can monitor social media and other channels to know what’s being said about your company, products, customer service, and other characteristics of your business. Web scraping helps you to gather all this data, analyse your success over the years, and determine the required changes or modifications.
Also Read : Top 15 Price Monitoring Tools in 2019
4. SEO Tracking
Results from search engine optimisation analysis can be directed to discover the current keywords in vogue, the pages or websites appearing on top, and the practices being followed for SEO optimisation. As a business, your aim, too, is for your company’s website to appear among the top few whenever a customer is looking for a certain kind of product. By using web scraping for SEO tracking, you can crack the SEO code and modify your practices in a way so that you feature on the top websites’ list as well.
Also Read : 5 Tips for Selecting SEO Rank Tracking Tools
5. Sentiment Analysis
Knowing what your customers are saying about your products and services is important for the growth of any business. Online reviews and testimonials have millions of consumers posting their thoughts on their forums. Use this vital data to dig deep regarding the standing of your business and products. Listen to what the customers have to say and act on the useful recommendations so as to make the changes they wish to see.
6. Tracking Online Reputation
With social media being omnipresent in our lives, every company has to maintain a positive online presence. Web scraping aids in the planning of your ORM (Online Reputation Management) strategy, by exploring the section of the audience you need to impact and avoiding the areas of liability that could hurt your brand. Web scraping reveals opinion leaders, trending topics, and demographic facts such as gender, age group, GEO location, and sentiment. Researching on these helps you digitally target and impact your audience.
7. Block Spamming
While online reviews are helpful in increasing the popularity of your brand and products, fake reviews can do the opposite and cause a lot of damage. Competitors can often attempt to discredit your services by posting such fake reviews. Web scraping helps you get rid of these fake reviews and keep just the genuine ones that aim in bringing more customers in.
In an era where the competition is so insane and the stakes so high, having accurate information is indispensable to every business, and web scraping helps you with just that. Not only is it a way to clean and build databases containing crucial information regarding leads and competition, it also helps to convert those leads to customers. Growing a business entails bringing more consumers in, building their trust in you, and accelerating your sales and profit margin. Therefore, make use of web scraping to expand your empire by having all the essential data available at the tip of your fingers.