How Does Web Scraping Work?

Web scraping actually works effectively, especially when you require specific details for your business, sales strategies, or any other thing. Onboarding customers won’t be like chewing the bullet if you know how to extract customer Ids and contact details.

LinkedIn, for example, offers over 90% of the declared member-base data for sale in an online cybercrime marketplace. These data cover personally identifiable information with professional details for in mail marketing, which is free.

Let’s understand what it is and how it happens in this blog.    

What is Web Scraping?

Also known as web extraction, it represents a technique of extracting a vast volume of records from websites automatically.  The majority of this information appears unstructured HTML input (when extracted) that is converted into structured data in a spreadsheet or database before inputting into various applications. In Business Process Management or outsourcing companies, various methods to gather data from websites are employed. These options can be for business purposes, internet services, specific APIs, or even writing your own scraping code from scratch. Once scraped, the details are segmented to utilize for the following:

  • Improved Pricing
  • Keyword Research
  • Lead Generation
  • Competition Monitoring
  • Improved Customer Satisfaction

How Does Web Scraping Work?

Multiple methods are adopted to extract data from various websites. This is actually the specification that define where to start from. Let’s figure out how it works. 

Undoubtedly, millions of web sources are here to take useful pieces of details. The process begins by data scrapers who may use extraction tools, such as octaparse. Tools help you to win half the battle of getting valuable details from web sources because you need to establish the specifications for the tool. Accordingly, their in-built commands follow crawling, data capturing, extraction, and importing to a specific database. 

Once scraped, the HTML data are collected in files in their crude form. To further clean and make them usable, data cleansing techniques come in key role. These can be normalization, standardization, enrichment, verification, de-duplication, validation, and more like them. A certified team of data specialists clean them to transform. Once it happens, the records become ready to analyze and make realistic decisions. All thanks to the growing acceptance of information retrieval as an integral part of everyday business!

In the nutshell, web scraping works in five steps that include:

  • Locating the desired website
  • Collecting the URLs of the pages from which you wish to extract details
  • Making a request for the HTML of those pages.
  • Locating data in HTML using locators
  • Saving the information as JSON, CSV, or other structured formats.
Data Extraction Process Cycle

Types of Data Harvesters

These types of web extraction can simplify the way it works.

  • Browser Extensions

These are extensions to enable automatic crawling. These are like plugins that are installed and the task simplifies. However, their capabilities are limited. Their developers introduce its improved versions. Any advanced capabilities that aren’t compatible to your browser may make it redundant or useless, even if you have the upgraded version of that extension.

  • Software

For crawling, software can be used. It can be downloaded and installed. Once you own it, you can use its advanced functionalities. It’s suited for modest to medium-sized tasks because you can scrape one or many pages at a time.

  • Cloud web scrapers

This sort of extractor operates in the cloud, usually on an off-site server.  Because the computer resources are no longer required to skim the data from the websites, the computer may focus on other tasks.

  • Local data brawlers

Local website data harvesters, on the other hand, use local resources to run on your machine. As a result, if the scrapers demand extended range of CPU or RAM, your computer will become slow and incapable of performing other activities.

Ways Web Data Scraping Can Benefit Your Business

  • Gain Leads

Any company uses this method for generating leads. The most basic step of data mining for lead creation is data collecting, remembering that the collected datasets must be accurate and current. In accordance with your business and competitors, create a script to crawl and scrape customers’ contact details from their social media accounts, community portals, forums, and other online platforms. Moreover, you can also discover who’s following them and what they’re talking about. These technologies can help in acquiring inquiries, creating email databases, scraping reviews, and exporting all data to a CRM or database. In short, this method makes corporate lives much easier through informed decisions.  

  • Brand Monitoring

The “brand monitoring” of a corporation is extremely valuable. Web extraction may collect all of this information from numerous sources, allowing executives to monitor, measure, and track their progress over time. It assists you to compare competitors, analyze a wide sea of tweets and blog articles, and distill them into a list of actionable findings.

  • Sentiment Analysis

Thousands of people use review sites every day to share their experiences with products and services. This massive volume of data is freely accessible and may be simply scraped for information about businesses, competitors, possible opportunities, and trends. Crawling, when combined with Natural Language Processing (NLP), can also help organizations understand how customers react to their products and services, as well as find user feedback on product and service initiatives.

Top Scraping Tools

Here is a comprehensive list of some of the best web scraping tools to help you narrow down your options:

  • ParseHub
  • Scrapy
  • OctoParse
  • Mozenda
  • Common Crawl
  • Webhose.io