No business can work in a silo. There are so many factors affecting a business- regulatory requirements, competitor’s actions, consumer behavior, climatic conditions, economic conditions, and so on. We live in an era where even the top brands with the highest market share can become insignificant players within months at the expense of a newcomer brand whose products are selling like hotcakes.

Businesses need to make informed decisions at the right time before their competitors steal precious customers and market share. For this, they need all the information collected from various sources online to make such decisions. There is only one way they can do this using data scraping services.

How does it work?

Web scraping or web crawling refers to obtaining publicly available data through various websites. This is a legal way of acquiring data sourced from various websites and is organized in a structured way to help businesses make strategic business decisions.

Why is data scraping important?

Data has become the new oil. Companies use data to streamline operations, keep a tab on market conditions and rely on data intelligence for business decisions. All of this requires data scraping on a large scale. Hence, data scraping services have become as crucial for businesses as hiring professionals like accountants, lawyers, and doctors.

How data scraping helps businesses in the long run

Price monitoring

In crowded niche markets, the price you quote can make a lot of difference. For this, you have to constantly keep a tab on your competitors’ moves- what prices are their products selling at, what features they have, and so on. Knowing your competitors’ pricing strategy has a host of benefits, one being preparing a counter-strategy to retain customers. Earlier, this whole process wasn’t easy, only big corporations could do it. Now, even small local businesses are using data scraped price monitoring to stay a step ahead of their competitors.

Sentiment analysis

To understand the customer better, businesses analyze customer behavior towards various services and products. This is achieved by analyzing tons of data from various sources. Getting this data is only possible with the help of data scraping. Sentiment analysis is done by reviewing tweets, opinions, reviews, and other online comments. This analysis is used to gain insights about competitors, potential business opportunities, trends, and much more.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

These two technologies are increasingly being used to transform businesses. Machines require a lot of data to analyze and think like a human. AI and machine learning technologies are built over data, they need to be fed with quality data regularly to complete their work.

Brand monitoring

With the help of data scraping services, brands can know what people are talking about them. Scraping data from social media websites can help you know how people perceive your brand and what corrective steps should be taken in case there is negative talk about your brand online.

Search Engine Optimization

Getting a better rank on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) keeps getting difficult year on year. Google has made tectonic changes to the way websites should rank in their latest SEO updates. The SEO tools that we use like Ubersuggest and SEMrush use web scraping extensively to get your competitor’s website’s titles, Meta tags, traffic sources, and other details.

Lead Generation

For businesses, lead generation is a crucial aspect that should be received from wherever possible. Many businesses use Software-as-a-service DIY web scrapers or professional web scraping services to generate leads for their businesses. Lead generation is especially crucial for real estate, IT, legal services, and other such professional industries.

Market Research

No business can make informed decisions without the help of relevant market research. Web scraping services are a resource-efficient way to do market research and get structural data from multiple sources online. Scraped data in large volumes can help analyze consumer trends, market scenarios, market potential, and much more.

Investment opportunities

As a business owner, many investment opportunities may not be found easily. Web scraping can help you find such opportunities by digging deep into data from various sources. Data can be scraped from media websites, business groups, and so on.

Challenges faced with web scraping

Though web scraping has its advantages, here are some of the challenges faced by web scrapers for the same

Data management

Web scraping generates a lot of data that can be useful for the future. Additionally, many people within the organization will be using this data. Managing and storing this data requires a lot of investments in data centers, software, and personnel. Care needs to be taken to ensure there are no breaches of data.        

Anti-scraping technologies

To avoid being scraped, many websites use anti-scraping technologies. This includes dynamic coding algorithms that disallow scraping bots to scrape the data. Though data scraping is legal, some websites use IP blocking technologies to deny scraping attempts.

CAPTCHA based blocking

Some e-commerce websites use CAPTCHA to detect and block web scraping attempts. This is one of the main challenges in web scraping. We all have encountered CAPTCHA in one instance or the other. You can get over the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test), but it can significantly slow down your work.

Technology hostile to scraping

For dynamic websites, client-side technologies like Javascript and Ajax are used. This makes web scraping attempts quite tough. Rendering websites made in Javascript is very tough, requiring specialized skills that aren’t easily available.

Legal Issues

Though data scraping is legal, there can be cases when it is seen as illegal. High loads on the target website’s servers can be misinterpreted for a DDoS attack. If data scraping overloads the website’s server and damages it, the person held responsible will be the data scraper.

Wrap Up

Data scraping is a new methodology to help businesses make informed decisions. With competition increasing day by day, even small businesses are taking to web scraping services to make strategic business decisions. However, data scraping is not simple, it requires a lot of skill, even though it is technically legal.