Explaining Web Scraping
The terms web scraping and web crawling have started to appear more and more, raising interest and curiosity among many passionate internet users. So, let’s tackle the question of what web scraping is to understand it a bit better.
Web scraping is the process of gathering large amounts of structured data with the help of specially designed programs. This allows anyone with web scraping techniques to gain access to data available all over the internet, scrape it and store it in one place. Later, you can use the collected data to achieve various business goals.
When it comes to the necessary tools, web scraping is quite simple. You’ll only need two programs – a crawler and a scraper – to perform all kinds of scraping activities, no matter their volume.
So, what’s the role of these programs? Essentially, a crawler browses and combs through the internet to find all links connected or relatable to the desired topic, carving the path for the scraper. Then, the scraper extracts all the necessary information from these links and stores them in one place.
Why Companies Use Web Scraping
As all businesses are forced to close their brick and mortar shops and set up their shops online, web scraping is proving to be equally helpful for small local businesses and international enterprises.
Web scraping allows companies to quickly gather all the necessary data, which is especially important in today’s fast-paced business environment. With everything available online and new data uploaded each second, it’s next to impossible for employees to go through all of it manually and extract what’s useful.
So, web scraping can do that in a matter of seconds, and here are its most common uses by companies:
- Price – Prices play a huge factor for companies. So, it’s not surprising that they are the biggest reason why most companies start using web scraping in the first place. Determining the price of a product or a service can be quite challenging, so extracting data from similar websites can give some more insight into the current state of the market.
- Market Research – Researching the current market situation and monitoring the competitors is crucial for every successful business. That’s why web scraping is used to gather data about the market so as to allow efficient but detailed market research, which will help with further business development.
- News and Content – Every day, millions of new pieces of information are added to the web environment, which is filled with all kinds of content and is only getting more packed each day. So, web scrapers can run through countless pages and extract valuable information, allowing you to assess your business’s current value based on the latest news and events.
Web Scraping Obstacles
Although web scraping offers a wide range of benefits, it comes with its set of disadvantages too. Over time, websites introduced several ways of blocking access to web scrapers, which are now the main obstacle for the majority of these programs. Some of the obstacles web scrapers usually come across are:
- Legality – Some websites allow web scraping, while others prohibit it. So, before starting scraping, you should always check whether you have permission to extract data via robots.txt.
- Alternating Structure – For each web page structure, there needs to be a new scraper. So, creating different web scrapers isn’t an issue as long as these pages stay the same. However, numerous web page designers will change the structure from time to time, so you’ll need to create a new scraper too.
- IP Blocking and CAPTCHA – Other ways web pages block access to web scrapers is by detecting its IP address and blocking it if it notices a suspicious number of requests. CAPTCHA is a method of telling humans and computers apart, so scrapers won’t be able to go through these without human help.
How AI Web Scraping Can Help
With AI web scraping, the issues and obstacles web scraping dealt with in the past could be dealt with permanently. With the new design, the AI-powered web scrapers can overcome all of the obstacles mentioned above and find their way to gather the requested data.
For alternating structure, AI web scrapers learn the patterns, identify them, and change their structure to fit the template you are going after. This eliminates the need for creating multiple different scrapers as the AI scrapers are interchangeable on their own.
Additionally, these web scrapers can avoid any IP blocking with a proxy system thanks to the IP address rotation technology. So, web scrapers can visit the same webpages countless times without being detected. Learn here how Next-Gen Residential Proxies and Geonode Proxies have combined the capabilities of regular proxies and the power of AI and Machine Learning algorithms.
With automated data gathering, companies ensure to stay on top of their competition. AI web scraping programs offer up-to-date scraping techniques, so even the most contemporary scraping obstacles are outmaneuvered.
Furthermore, AI enables the scraping program to memorize previous behavior, making it smarter after each use. Finally, these AI web scrapers maximize efficiency and lower the possibility of errors by learning the patterns that your throw at them.
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