In simple terms, Web Scraping is a means to extract data from any given website by using specific filters. The said data is then turned into usable data sets that you can analyze and use for business intelligence.
Any modern crawling software can provide automated scraping solutions – letting you scrape thousands if not millions of websites simultaneously. Further, most solutions let you define specific scraping rules not only for one website, but for multiple websites that have a similar content structure.
Everything you see on the Web is either data already, or can be turned into a data pattern by applying critical thinking. Anything from random blog posts to job listings can provide the necessary intelligence to help your business grow and flourish.
If you have never done any data scraping before, you might be scratching your head and thinking to yourself, “How could a bunch of external data possibly help my business?“.
Here is a list of common use cases for web scraping services:
Scrape data from two different websites and compare their similarities. Especially useful for eCommerce stores where you can compare pricing and other data points.
Create a consistent influx of online reviews as left by your customers across a wide range of review platforms.
Analyze your competition by scraping SEO and Social Media data on a daily basis.
Generate new leads by acquiring customer information and their contact data using nothing but crawlers.
Create large sheets of product details and otherwise from eCommerce platforms like Etsy, Amazon, eBay, and others.
Strengthen your marketing strategy by gathering large data sets of user feedback on any given subject.
As you can tell, web scraping has a ton of potential to help you gather vital data that can help your business growth.
What are some of the distinct benefits of web scraping?
Data accuracy. If you do all of the scraping yourself, you have 100% guarantee that the incoming data is gathered in real-time. As a result, you don’t need to worry that some company is giving you years-old data.
Competitive edge. You won’t know for sure if your competitors aren’t scraping data themselves, but know that if you do it – you are ahead of every single one of your competitors who aren’t doing it.
Save time and money. Gathering business-critical data is a slow, painful, and an expensive process if you embark on it manually. Hiring someone else to do might incur costs higher than your expectation. Also, you can avoid paying software companies for their tools by pulling in all the data yourself.
Universal access. All the data you scrape from the Web can be stored in one centralized location either on your computer or in the cloud. Meaning, you have universal access to important data whenever you need it.
And now that we have this out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the scraping techniques you can use to gain business advantage.
Generate leads through contact lists.
Can you utilize Web Scraping to generate new leads? And the answer is, yes you can. While there are many paid, and some free, alternatives to lead generation, most of these techniques require a lot of manual labour.
So, imagine how much time you could save if you could delegate some of these tasks to automated processes? The answer is – a lot!
You can start by creating specific filters for the type of leads you want to generate. So, putting together a list of attributes like Age, Location, Education, Work Position, Interests, etc.
Once you have a clearly defined attributes set, you can start scraping sites that match these kind of signals. E.g. You can turn to Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress Blogs, and other platforms where people might share their personal information.
Of course, you have to be cautious so as not to come across as a spammer or someone with ill-intentions. Rather, think how you can use your newly acquired data to offer irresistible incentives.
Price your products according to market standard.
Having access to real-time data of product pricing across hundreds of eCommerce stores can give you immense edge over your competition. In fact, most professional brands study their competitors closely to keep up with pricing changes and more.
But if there’s one thing we know about pricing monitoring – it’s helluva lot slower to do it by hand than it is to automate the entire process.
By putting together a list of your product competitors, you can create a real-time scraping module to always keep you updated about prices for the products that your competition is selling.
This approach shines through in situations where your competition might be running special offers, or provide other sales incentives.
Additionally, you can justify your own pricing range by adding additional value to your product. E.g. Include free shipping, provide accessories at no charge, or improve the product itself.
Who said that web scraping can’t help a business grow?
Keep track of search engine rankings for yourself and your competition.
The demand for quality content is at an all-time high, but getting good content in front of the right people is not a simple task. As search engines mature in their capacity to understand content, so does increases the difficulty to get content ranked high on the SERP lists.
Don’t get it wrong either, there are countless SEO tools that offer keyword analysis and more. Though, the issue is often the cost of such tools. For example, popular brands like Ahrefs and SEMRush charge up to $99 per month – which quickly adds up if you are constant need of such data.
With crawlers and web scraping tools you can minimize these costs to $0 if you do it smart. Google AdWords provides extensive lists of popular keywords, which means that you can download these lists and use them as an input for your scraping operations.
Here are some examples on how you can use web scraping to track certain SEO statistics:
Rank tracking. Create a list of keywords that are important to your business, and run the scraper on a daily basis to monitor any significant ranking changes. After a while, you should have sufficient data to build upon you findings and improve your own content.
Content ideas. Run your keyword lists against Google’s search results to collect a list of new content ideas. Further, you can save specific rankings to see which ideas are most popular.
Collect URLs for external analysis. Scrape all the associated URLs for your keyword lists, and then use your URL data to check for things like Domain Authority, Social Ranking and much more.
You can also check the features of any popular SEO software, and see if you cannot convert some of those features into dedicated scraping modules!
As you can tell, Web Scraping has a place and potential for helping your business grow. All you have to do is go through the learning curve of any scraping tool on the market and the rest will be history.
What are you waiting then? Give a try for free with Crawlbase (formerly ProxyCrawl) and let the growth of your business go wild!