What is web scraping?

What is web scraping?

If you’ve ever copy and pasted information from a website, you’ve performed the same function as any web scraper, only on a microscopic, manual scale.

Web scraping, also known as web data extraction, is the process of retrieving or “scraping” data from a website. Unlike the mundane, mind-numbing process of manually extracting data, web scraping uses intelligent automation to retrieve hundreds, millions, or even billions of data points from the internet’s seemingly endless frontier.

More than a modern convenience, the true power of web scraping lies in its ability to build and power some of the world’s most revolutionary business applications. ‘Transformative’ doesn’t even begin to describe the way some companies use web scraped data to enhance their operations, informing executive decisions all the way down to individual customer service experiences. 

The basics of web scraping

It’s extremely simple, in truth, and works by way of two parts: a web crawler and a web scraper. The web crawler is the horse, and the scraper is the chariot. The crawler leads the scraper, as if by the hand, through the internet, where it extracts the data requested.

The crawler

A web crawler, which we generally call a “spider,” is an artificial intelligence that browses the internet to index and search for content by following links and exploring, like a person with too much time on their hands.

The scraper

A web scraper is a specialized tool designed to accurately and quickly extract data from a web page. Web scrapers vary widely in design and complexity, depending on the project.

The web scraping process: 3 simple steps

1. First, our team of seasoned scraping veterans develops a scraper unique to your project, designed specifically to target and extract the data you want from the websites you want it from.
2. The data is retrieved in HTML format, after which it is carefully parsed to extricate the raw data you want from the noise surrounding it. Depending on the project, the data can be as simple as a name and address in some cases, and as complex as high dimensional weather and seed germination data the next.
3. Ultimately, the data is stored in the format and to the exact specifications of the project. Some companies use third party applications or databases to view and manipulate the data to their choosing, while others prefer it in a simple, raw format - generally as CSV, TSV or JSON.
Ultimately, the flexibility and scalability of web scraping ensures your project parameters, no matter how specific, can be met with ease. Fashion retailers inform their designers with upcoming trends based on web scraped insights, investors time their stock positions, and marketing teams overwhelm the competition with deep insights, all thanks to the burgeoning adoption of web scraping as an intrinsic part of everyday business.

Curious what web scraping looks like in your industry? Browse our use cases or have a look at our white papers for more information into how this amazing technology is fueling tomorrow’s business solutions. 

Price Monitoring

Revolutionize day-to-day business with web scraped product data and dramatically increase your company’s competitiveness. From automatic pricing solutions to profitable investment insights, this data moves mountains.

  • Dynamic Pricing and Revenue Optimization
  • Competitor Monitoring
  • Product Trend Monitoring
  • Investment Decision Making
  • Brand and MAP Compliance
Use case

Alternative Finance

Unearth alpha and radically create value with web data tailored specifically for investors. The decision-making process has never been as informed, nor data as insightful – and the world’s leading firms are increasingly consuming web scraped data, given its incredible strategic value.

  • Extracting Insights from SEC Filings
  • Estimating Company Fundamentals
  • Public Sentiment Integrations
  • News Monitoring
Use case

Market Research

Market research is critical – and should be driven by the most accurate information available. High quality, high volume, and highly insightful, web scraped data of every shape and size is fueling market analysis and business intelligence across the globe.

  • Market Trend Analysis
  • Market Pricing
  • Optimizing Point of Entry
  • Research & Development
  • Competitor Monitoring
Use case

Real Estate

The digital transformation of real estate in the past twenty years threatens to disrupt traditional firms and create powerful new players in the industry. By incorporating web scraped product data into everyday business, agents and brokerages can protect against top-down online competition and make informed decisions within the market.

  • Appraising Property Value
  • Monitoring Vacancy Rates
  • Estimating Rental Yields
  • Understanding Market Direction
Use case

Sentiment Analysis

For businesses that want to understand what their clientele – and competition – truly think and feel, web scraped product data and sentiment analysis are a match made in heaven. Guess no more and eradicate bias from your interpretations by incorporating and integrating bewildering amounts of relevant, insightful data from your industry.

  • Investment Decision Making
  • Product Monitoring
  • Brand and Company Monitoring
  • Product Development
  • Politics and Campaigns
Use case

News & Content Monitoring

Modern media can create outstanding value or an existential threat to your business - in a single news cycle. If you’re a company that depends on timely news analyses, or a company that frequently appears in the news, web scraping is the ultimate solution for monitoring, aggregating and parsing the most critical stories from your industry.

  • Investment Decision Making
  • Online Public Sentiment Analysis
  • Competitor Monitoring
  •  Political Campaigns
Use case

Have a web scraping project in mind?

Contact us today with any questions you might have, and we can start to flesh out your project or give you the tools you need to finish the job yourself  - tools like ScrapyCrawlera, and Splash.

Need data you can rely on?

Tell us about your project or start using our scraping tools today.

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