If you own a website and are looking for a way to improve your website, you can safely use web scraping, where you can identify competitor sites or check sales of products on websites.
In this article, we told you what web scraping is, what web scrapers do, why you should use web scraping, the most common areas of web scraping, the challenges you may encounter while doing web scraping, and the best practices for web scraping.
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What is Web Scraping?
Fully automated web scraping, which is used to extract large-scale data from websites, is an essential and frequently used method of collecting data that can then be used in various applications. While there are multiple ways of scraping data that you can use to extract data from websites, it would make the most sense to use a web scraper for web scraping.
Working Principle of Web Scrapers
Why Should You Use Web Scraping?
Web scraping, which allows you to access the data on any website and see the data you reach on a regular basis, is a method you should use in many ways. We've put together a list of reasons why you should use web scraping for you.
- While you would normally be able to access individual data from all websites, using web scraping you can access data from any website you want with just a few clicks.
- Compared to other services on the market, web scraping is more affordable and budget-friendly, but keep in mind that pricing may vary depending on the features of your preferred web scraper.
- While you can scrape any website manually, it can be difficult to find data from various websites. You can access all this data in an organized way by using the web scraping service.
- When you start using any technology, you know that the technology you buy will have maintenance, installation, and many more costs. However, using a web scraper will not cost you any additional fees, and it is very unlikely that it will even require maintenance. For this reason, it is a budget-friendly and very useful technology in the long run.
- When you try to do web scraping without web scraping tools, it may take you weeks to collect data from various websites. But if you use a web scraper, a scraping project that would take weeks can be completed in just a few hours.
- It makes the most sense to use a web scraper that extracts data completely accurately, as accessing the right information is essential to web scraping and can lead to a lot of mistakes when people do it themselves.
- Data can be easily collected with web scraper software, where people working in your company do not need to copy or paste the data. Thanks to the easy collection of data and no need for workers during this process, your employees can engage in more creative work.
Most Used Areas of Web Scraping
If you have decided to use a web scraper but are not sure whether the area you are going to use is suitable for web scraping, you can take a look at these areas where web scraping is used most often.
- You can use web scraping to attract potential customers and make people aware of your products. You can easily access people's contact information with web scraping and contact them.
- Since there is serious market competition between companies that offer the same products or services, these companies should follow each other and make price comparisons.
- You can also use web scraping to benefit from the data of products on websites such as Amazon, eBay. By accessing prices, descriptions, images, reviews, and ratings, you can more logically sell products on your website.
- You can use web scraping software to scrape owner contact information in addition to property information found on real estate sites.
- You can also use a web scraper to scrape and organize this data, as the information of websites in a certain category may be in different formats.
- You can use a web scraper for academic research on any subject.
- You can also scrape data to test models you use for machine learning or to augment machine learning.
- Although it is not a frequently used field, a web scraper can be used to collect the values of the odds in sports betting.
- It is possible to scrape hotel and restaurant ratings and reviews from websites by using web scraping software. You can also access hotel room information and details in these hotels.
Web Scraping Challenges
Although web scraping may seem quite easy, there are many difficulties that can be encountered during this process. While some of these challenges can be overcome by your web scraper software, it's worth learning about them.
- If you are aiming to extract large amounts of data, you need to know that this data extraction will generate large amounts of information, and you need to make your data warehouse fault-tolerant, scalable, secure, and highly available. If your data warehouse has stability or accessibility issues, your warehouse will accumulate additional overhead in searches and data filtering operations.
- Data scraping over the Internet is usually performed based on the user interface and structure, such as CSS and Xpath. If the website you want to scrape has made a few adjustments, it is possible for your scraper to crash completely or give random data in a way you don't want. Maintaining scrapers is much more challenging than writing a new scraper, as this scenario is quite common.
- Since scraping data from websites is an increasingly common strategy these days, the servers of websites can take some measures to prevent data scraping. These measures are anti-scraping technologies and if you are constantly visiting a website from the same IP address, the website may block your IP address and cause you to be unable to access that site.
- Some websites have honeypot traps for detecting web scrapers you use to scrape the web. It is very difficult for the web scraper to scrape this data, as many of the link addresses are in a color that can mix with the background color or it is possible to turn off the display feature with CSS, but we can say that this method is not used often.
- Web scraping is frequently used today, as artificial intelligence and machine learning are of high interest and these technologies need large-scale data. However, since a single wrong data can cause serious problems in these projects, it is also very important that the data is scrapped correctly and has integrity.
- The larger a website is, the longer it will take to scrape that website. This should not upset you if your purpose of browsing the website you want to scrape is not a time-sensitive one, but most of the time-sensitive data on websites are needed. Time-sensitive data such as sales listings, currency rates, media trends, stocks, and market prices will constantly change.
- Captcha software, which is used to keep scraper software such as web scrapers away from a website, is frequently used by many websites, so you need a mechanism to stay away from this software.
- It is not possible to use a single machine for web scraping as web scraping is not used for scraping a single website on the internet and the more data the more efficiency.
Best Practices for Web Scraping
We have mentioned in many previous sub-headings that you may encounter many problems while doing web scraping. Now, we will briefly but concisely talk about the methods you can use to avoid these problems.
Learn About the Target Website's Robots.txt File
The Robots.txt file, which informs the search engine robots of websites on how to crawl and index websites on their pages, is a very important text file containing instructions for crawlers. Before starting the data extraction process for any website, you should check the Robots.txt file that you can find in the website administrator section of that website.
Don't Send Requests to Servers Frequently
Since the servers of the websites have a certain frequency range, the requests you send for a website should not be too frequent. If you have a fixed speed range since there will be a large amount of traffic on the website's server, this website's server may crash and all your requests may be unanswered. For this reason, you need to send requests according to the interval in the robots.txt file or with an interval of ten seconds.
You Should Change User Agent Frequently
Since every request consists of a user-agent string, and these strings reveal the browser you are using, your browser version, and the platform, if you use the same user-agent for every request, it can be easier for the website to understand that the request came from a particular browser. For this reason, try to change the user and caller on every request to avoid this problem.
Change IP Addresses and Proxy Services Frequently
If your IP addresses and proxy services do not change frequently, it will always be the most logical to use returning IP addresses and proxy services, as your requests will be visible and it can be understood from which browser they came.
Make Your Scrapers Do Human Actions
Since websites use anti-scraping technologies, if your website scrapers run a scan following the same pattern, these crawls will be easy for them to detect. You should make sure that your web scraper does actions such as mouse movements and random link clicks, as normally a person does not browse every website in the same order.
Take Responsibility for the Data You Scrape
You could face serious legal issues whenever data you scrape from a website is republished in any way, as it could be considered a violation of copyright laws. For this reason, before you scrape a website, you may need to check the terms of service page of that website.
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