Everybody requires data and they want it fast. But a simple glance at the internet would show you that it is not a very easy thing to do, especially regarding data that is complex, obscure or data that is ever updating. If one is not careful, they may spend hours upon hours trying to glean as much data. This consumes more time and resources. But there is a better way to achieve that and that is through web scraping.
Web scraping involves using programs to navigate a website or a web page in search of relevant data. The data needed would be defined by the parameters in the program and can be continuously fine-tuned to make the search yield proper results. The beauty of web scraping is that in a very short time, you can gather a large chunk of relevant data and it would be arranged for you in a structured way and stored until you need it.
Some of the popular places people use web scraping today includes
- Email Gathering
Companies or people who need people’s emails as a means of communication or reaching out to them can use web scraping to harvest emails of potential clients or customers.
- Price Comparison
People seeking to find out the price of products from different websites can use web scraping to list them out and compare.
Web scraping can be used to extract statistics and other necessary data needed for polls or surveys.
Today, more and more people are enjoying the benefit of web scraping. This may be due to the fact that it is not very hard to do. Some may think that web scraping involves a lot of coding and having hacking knowledge in order to get what you want, but that is not entirely true. Web Scraping requires very little knowledge of coding. All you have to do is just make sure your parameters are set correctly for you to get what you need.
Before you start scraping away, you have to observe the following things
If you are looking for specific information, you have to find out which web page or website has what you need. This allows you to know where to run your scraper and how to use it. This not only saves you time but also ensures you get what you want.
Every site has an HTML structure. What you see on a site is merely the results of things in the background, which is written in HTML. To extract data, the web scraper goes into the HTML part of the site. All relevant in HTML is contained in tags, which is what the web scraper identifies to extract the information needed. That is why it is important to understand a little HTML as that can help you when writing your code for your web scraper so that you know what tags to include in it to make the scraper quickly identify the information you need.
The next thing to decide on is how you would want to scrape. There are three popular ways which you can go around this, which includes
Writing your code: this has to do with using python or any other language to write your web scraping code. The good thing about this method is that you are completely in control and have total freedom on how to search for things.
Online Services: there are so many websites that can help you scrape other websites for a fee. Simply tell them the kind of data you need or the site you need to scrape from.
APIs: an API is a program that you can use to scrape the web. There are so many APIs on the internet and you can even purchase them or use free ones to get the job done.
- Take Permission Before Scraping
It is very important that you take permission from a site before scraping so that you will not be violating any terms and conditions. Some sites have copyrighted data and using it can land you in some trouble. That is why it is necessary to take permission, to know whether you can scrape the site or what data you should not extract.
Web scraping is a very convenient way to gather specific data and it is constantly changing the course of things every day. You do not need to be an internet guru before you can reap the benefits of web scraping. Simply pay attention to the rules of the internet and try to put the data you extract into good use. At Zenscrape, we can help you gather every data you need from any website. Contact us today to get started.