In the world of rapidly growing online marketplaces and industries, companies are always looking for innovative solutions that’ll put them a few steps ahead of their competitors. Web scraping proved to be just that, as it equips its users with valuable information not only about their company but about their competitors too. The data collected through web scraping can serve countless purposes and help companies make informed decisions.
With businesses slowly starting to realize the advantages of web scraping, now is your chance to learn everything about the benefits and challenges of using a web scraper.
The importance of using public data
If you’re unsure about what web scraping can equip you with, learning about the importance of using public data and analysis is essential. Since web scraping is a process of collecting online publicly-available data, the gathered information can be handy regardless of the industry you’re working in.
Let’s check out some of the key advantages of web scraping that’ll tell you more about the importance of using public data:
Spending a lot of money on marketing campaigns and other tactics to increase lead generation is completely unnecessary when you have a much cheaper alternative. Web scraping can collect valuable data you can use to generate more leads.
Setting your prices right will undoubtedly play a role in your business’s success. If you set the prices too low, you’ll miss out on revenue, but if you set your prices too high, you’ll miss out on sales. Finding the balance between these two isn’t easy, mainly because price movements occur frequently.
However, web scraping can keep you informed about the latest price changes on the market.
Not sure who your target audience is? Web scraping collects information about your consumers to give you a clearer picture. You can learn everything about your audience, from basic demographic information to specific consumer behavior.
Keeping track of your brand reputation isn’t easy, especially with so many social media platforms and other online portals available. However, you can easily locate and track what other people are saying about your company with web scraping. That way, you’ll learn about your brand’s main strengths and weaknesses in no time.
Scraping has its challenges
Although web scraping equips its users with numerous cons, that doesn’t mean the process is flawless and doesn’t come with its unique challenges. Here are some of the biggest challenges people and companies experience when web scraping:
Unallowed bot access
Some websites aren’t welcoming scrapers and other bots on their site. That means your web scraper probably won’t be able to access all sites you’re planning to visit.
When many requests are detected from the same IP address, websites can block it to limit its further access to their data.
CAPTCHAs are a sneaky way to keep web scrapers at bay because the programs cannot solve logical problems and select images, which are common forms found in CAPTCHAs.
Some website owners will go to further lengths to catch scrapers on their website. Honeypot traps aren’t visible to internet users but are visible to scrapers.
Changing web page structures
Each web scraper is designed for a specific web page structure, so if a structure changes, the scraper won’t work.
How to deal with these issues
Fortunately, plenty of solutions can help you avoid being flagged, blacklisted, or banned while scraping. Although your possibilities are limitless, we’ve selected the top five solutions.
User-agents contain information about the device type, operating system, and the browser making the request. If you want to hide your scraping trails, implementing user-agents is an easy way to do so.
Headless browsers are browsers that come without a graphical user interface. Headless browsers use a command-line interface instead of navigating the sites via visuals. A puppeteer is a great tool for using headless Chrome, and you can learn more about it in a simple Puppeteer tutorial. Click here to read more.
Proxies are gateways between internet users and the internet, making it easy to mask your IP address and avoid the annoying web scraper blocks.
Another alternative is to use a VPN, which will hide your IP address and all scraping activities with it.
If you don’t want to implement any tools or programs, you can simply limit your scraping activities. The less you scrape a specific website, the more likely you’ll go unnoticed.
It’s safe to say scraping comes with countless benefits for companies. However, it comes with its challenges and limitations too. Nevertheless, numerous tools and solutions are hitting the markets to make your scraping journeys smoother and more successful.
With that in mind, the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages, which is why you should consider implementing a web scraper into your routine.