Web scraping is the process of extracting large amounts of data from websites and saving them in a local file on your computer or a database. Mostly, if we want to copy the data from a website, we have to manually copy and paste them. With the web scraping software, this process becomes automatic and the task is performed within a second. Wen scraping offers you access to the data as well as the choice in the selection of data to be scrapped.
Uses of web scraping.
- Real estate listings – used to gather all listed properties.
- To get bulk email addresses so that bulk emails can be sent.
- To keep a track of competition, product review scrapes are performed by many companies.
- To gather and collect similar data from different websites, website scrapes are performed.
- Social media website scraping is done to be in touch with the latest trends.
- Scraping is also done for research in order to collect a large amount of information.
How does web scraping work?
There are two different ways to perform web scraping –
- Custom web scrapers - these are special programs that are built in a variety of programming languages. Most people use libraries like Beautiful Soup to build the software. These web scrapers as already stated are customizable and are made according to your needs. You can build it yourself if you are proficient in a programming language otherwise, someone else needs to be hired to do the job. Also, a good programming knowledge is required to maintain the software. One disadvantage is that new websites require new web scrapers dedicated to them.
- Web scraping software – many software companies provide scraping software that doesn't require the user to have programming knowledge to use them. This software can be set up easily and support is always provided. No extra knowledge or a developer is required to maintain the software. The major disadvantage is that this software is not designed to handle more complex websites and at times technical knowledge is required to use the advanced features. The big thumbs up for this is that this software is mostly free and if priced, are pretty cheap.
Web scraping services
The difficulty of providing web scraping services depends on two factors –
- The method used for scraping – programming or generalized software.
- The complexity of the website to be scrapped.
Another difficulty faced is that of each website requiring a unique web scraper. The service provider has to build web scrapers dedicated to particular websites and this increases the cost of service, while many looks to get the software for free.
Web scraping services are in high demand and expect hiring companies to look for this skill which you can learn with relative ease. The companies are looking for new advances in the technology so that they can provide web scrapers that can cover a broader range of websites, so it is a good time to be a web scraper.