If you run an online business, there is a good chance that someone has asked you about data scraping. It’s a popular practice for online business owners since it allows them to gather business-based web data. This data can be incredibly valuable for building and managing an online business.
The process is relatively simple. You use scraping proxies and an online tool to gather the data. The scraper can get any kind of information you want, ranging from prices to financial data. Then, you can use that information for your own business.
Let’s look at some of the most common reasons for scraping data. Then, we’ll go over some tips to help you get the data you need.
Scraping Prices from Competitors
When you sell products, you have direct competitors. Those competitors might sell the same products, or they could sell something that is remarkably similar. In either case, it’s important that you know how much they’re charging for their products. After all, 87 percent of shoppers state that price is the most important factor that goes into their buying decisions. So, you have to know how much your competitors are charging if you’re going to be competitive in the online world.
If you only had one competitor, you could just head over to the site and see how much that company charged for products. Of course, you have many more, and it would be too time-consuming to jump from site to site. Instead, you can use price scraping to gather pricing data. Price scraping will let you know how much your competitors charge. Then, you can price your products accordingly.
SEO Results Scraping
You can have the best prices in the business, but if no one finds your site, you won’t sell any products. That’s why people also use scrapers to gather SEO information. You can use a scraper to find out why sites are ranking above yours. Then, you will have the ability to piggyback off their success. You can implement the same SEO strategies to move up in the search engine rankings. It won’t be long before you’re able to compete with others.
Just what kind of SEO data can you scrape? Here are some options.
First, you can use a scraper to gather keywords. When you scrape a website, you can find out what keywords the site uses. You won’t just get the keywords from the site’s copy, either. You can get the metadata, as well.
You can take that keyword research to the next level by scraping AdWords. With this tool, you can find out what ads companies are running. Scrape the ads and the associated keywords, and then use that information to create better ads and web copy.
You can also scrape blog comments. You might not realize this, but blog comments help your search engine optimization, which boosts your ranking. Use the scraper to look for comments and then single out the influencers. Once you find some influencers, reach out to them. Ask them to read your blog. If they like what they see, they’re likely to post about it.
Forums are another good option when scraping for SEO research. You can scrape the forums to find topics that match up with your industry. Then, you can use the forums to build backlinks. As you likely know, backlinks can help you improve your search ranking.
People also use scrapers to look for topics. They scrape blogs to find out what topics others in their industry are writing about and then write about those same topics. While you can’t copy the blog posts, knowing what topics to use is a quick and easy way to improve your blog and your search results.
Financial Data Web Scraping
People also use scraping proxies and bots for financial data web scraping. If you’re part of the financial industry, you can use a scraper to grab stock market data and trading prices. You can also find financial-related news with the help of a scraper.
You get to choose what information you want, and then the scraper will get to work for you. This is a must if you provide financial information to your site’s visitors. With the help of a scraper, you’ll get all the information you need. Then, you can repackage it and provide it to your readers.
Ingredients for a Successful Scraping Campaign
Now that you know what to scrape, you probably want to know how to get the job done. What do you need to do to have a successful scraping campaign?
There are actually eight components in a successful campaign.
1. Choose Dedicated Scraping Proxies
When you scrape data, you make a ton of requests at one time. If all those requests come from the same IP addresses, the site will think it’s under attack. That means it will shut down your IP address and prevent you from scraping any other data.
Fortunately, there is an easy workaround to this problem. Scraping proxies mask your IP address, hiding your identity. You can get several scraping proxies, and then the bot will rotate them. That way, various IP addresses will make the requests, so you will be less likely to stand out to the websites.
You do have to be smart when doing this, though. Some people use proxy scraping tools to find free proxies, but that’s a mistake. If you use free proxies, you’ll share the server with others. The proxies will slow the entire process down and might even cause the bot to time out.
The same is true if you use semi-dedicated proxies. While you will only share these proxies with a couple of other people, you still won’t have the bandwidth you need for such a big job.
With that in mind, buy dedicated scraping proxies for your scraping duties. You’ll be the only one using the proxies, so they’ll have the bandwidth necessary to handle the task.
2. Select a Scraping Bot
If you’re technologically savvy, you can use Python to create your own website scraper. Fortunately, though, you don’t have to be high-tech to get a scraper. Instead of building one, you can buy one.
Tools like Web Harvey can handle the scraping duties for you. Pick a tool that will allow you to get the data you need. Then, you’ll be ready for the next step.
3. Set Rate Limits
When you get your scraping proxies and bot, you’ll want to start scraping. You need to configure your bot first, though.
Many websites have rate limits in place. This means the sites have a limit on the number of requests an IP address can make in a certain period. Your bot will rotate your proxies, but if you make too many requests at once, the bot won’t have time to rotate the proxies. That means all the requests will come from the same IP address. Avoid hitting rate limits by limiting the number of requests your bot can make at once.
As a general rule, you want it to act like a human. A human can’t make a million requests in a second, and neither should your bot.
Limiting the number of requests your bot makes also prevents you from overloading the site’s server. Some small sites simply can’t handle tons of requests at once. If you cause the site to crash, you won’t be able to get the data you need, so it’s a good practice to put a limit on requests.
4. Leave Your Computer Alone
If you’re going to scrape a ton of data, it will take some time for your bot to gather it all. Your scraping proxies and bot will work overtime to get the job done, so you don’t want to slow it down by using the computer. In other words, don’t get on Netflix or Facebook while your scraper is working. Otherwise, you could slow it down to a crawl.
5. Only Take What You Need
Has the internet made you a data hoarder? There is so much information out there, and you want to take it all.
Here’s the thing, though. You don’t need all that data, and the more you take, the slower the process will be. On top of that, you’ll have to go through that data eventually, and if you take more than you need, you’ll be overwhelmed.
You might think, “But maybe I’ll need that extra data someday.” That might true, but if you don’t need it for several weeks or months, it’ll be outdated by the time you look at it. Take what you need today, and if you need more tomorrow, start scraping again.
6. Gather Data in Steps
You have a lot of data to get. You might want to get it all at once, but you should break it up into steps. When you break the tasks up into steps, the scraper and scraping proxies can work much faster. Then, when you get the first piece of data, you can move onto the next one and then the one after that.
7. Save Data as You Receive It
Technology is very handy. Life is so much easier when you can turn on the computer and get the information you need. Of course, when technology fails, you can lose everything. Prevent that from happening by backing up your data. Use an external hard drive, so you’ll still have the data if something happens to your computer.
8. Check the Data
When you scrape data, you have an idea of what that data will look like. For instance, you might set out to scrape prices, so you expect to get numbers back. Check the data several minutes into the task to make sure the bot is pulling the information you need. If it isn’t, you need to go back and reconfigure the scraper. Then, deploy it once again.
Gather Your Tools Today
You know what goes into successfully scraping the web. Now, you just need to gather your tools and begin the process. Determine what data you want and deploy your scraping proxies and bot to gather the information for you. Then, you can use the information to move up in the search engine rankings, provide information to your customers, or get a competitive edge in the marketplace.