Web Scraping - How the Technology Works
In today’s world, almost everything is going digital. While companies that can keep up with the said digitalization survive and strengthen themselves, companies that cannot keep up and try to deal with their business with traditional methods are being dragged into bankruptcy. In this article, we tried to clear your mind about web scraping, which we have been hearing a lot about recently.
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What is Web Scraping?
What is web scraping, which we have been hearing a lot about lately? Let’s take a look at it together. Web scraping is the name given to the process of extracting information from websites by scraping. Generally, these software programs simulate human exploration of the World Wide Web (WWW) via low-level HTTP or various full-fledged embedded web browsers.
After the information in question is collected from the relevant websites, a spreadsheet, for example, is made more useful for users. Web scraping does not have to be done automatically, it can also be done manually. However, automatic methods are preferred because they are both faster and less costly.
Web scraping is not as simple a process as it seems. Websites can take many different forms. Therefore, as we will talk about in the rest of our article, web scraping programs vary in terms of both their functions and features.
Different types of web scrapers
Web scrapers can vary in their functions and features. Under this heading, we will talk about 4 types of web scrapers.
Today, every individual with the necessary and sufficient technical knowledge can create a web scraper. However, this process is not as simple as it is thought and requires advanced programming knowledge. The amount of information that will be useful to you here is directly proportional to the number of qualities you want your scraper to have. In other words, the more detailed and more features you want, the more technical knowledge you need to have. Creating your scrape program will usually only take a few minutes if you don’t want too many features. You can use search engines to learn how.
Rather than creating your scrape program, there are many web scrapers that you can quickly download and install on your device. Moreover, these programs are not simple and useless. On the contrary, these programs have many more, such as scrape timing, JSON and Google Sheets export options. Therefore, whether you have the technical knowledge or not, such programs will save you time.
Software <-> Browser Extension
Web scrapers can generally appear in two different ways. These are extensions that can be installed as add-ons to our browsers such as Google Chrome and the like. Many of us have various add-ons in our browsers. Therefore, these plugins can also be used for web scraping. The first plus of the extensions you add to your browser for web scraping is that they work easily and are directly integrated into your browser. However, even if we say that it is simple to install such extensions on your browser, we must say that it is not as simple as installing an ad-blocker extension on your browser. And the biggest disadvantage of these extensions is that they do not allow the implementation of an advanced feature that needs to happen outside of your browser. In other words, they are extensions that you can only operate with your browser.
Another option is a software program that you install on your device. Although these programs are not useful from an extension you will install on your browser, we can say that the extension you will install on your browser removes the restrictions placed on you.
Both options have their pros and cons. You will be the decision-maker here. In other words, what you expect from the scrape process you want to do will be the factor that directly affects your decision.
UI Presenting to Users
The UI (User Interface) that web scrapers offer to their users varies. As an example, some web scraping tools include a very minimalist UI, while others include a UI that is as user-friendly as can be. Tools with minimal UI probably work with a command line. This is the system that older generation users are used to. However, some new generation users find this system complex. Because of this, they tend to choose more innovative and user-friendly interfaces.
This is not just a distinction between the old generation and new generation users. Habits and tastes also come into play here. For example, if you are an old-generation programmer, but are interested in new-generation designs and a relatively simple interface, you can choose a user-friendly interface. Similarly, if a new generation of users is more comfortable and likes minimalist designs, they may prefer simple interfaces. In addition, users with insufficient technical knowledge prefer user-friendly UIs.
Local <-> Cloud
Where exactly does your web scraper do its job? The answer to your question is very important. Local web scrapers will run on your computer and use their resources on your computer. One downside of this situation is that if your web scraper is using a large amount of RAM and/or CPU, your device will slow down during the scraping process, freezes and hangs may occur, and maybe your computer will shut down. At best if you don’t have high system specs, you will have to be away from your computer for hours in a long scraping. On top of all this, let’s add that if your web scraper is set up to run on multiple extensions, it can cause you trouble as it can negatively affect your internet service provider’s data caps.
Cloud-based web scrapers, on the other hand, as the name suggests, run on an offsite server via the cloud system. This means that while your web scraper is running, it will use the power and resources of the server it is connected to, not the power and resources of your computer. This will lighten a load of your computer a lot compared to local web scrapers. Therefore, if you do not have a high system, it is recommended to use the cloud system. In addition to these, the cloud system should not cause any anxiety in you. Because systems are usually implemented with advanced servers provided by highly reliable companies. Moreover, you will be notified after your web scraping is done and when your scraping is ready for export.
In Which Sectors is Web Scraping Most Used?
Web scraping is essential for many industries. For a trading platform, web scraping is used in many areas, including market research, indexing the prices of products to market prices, identifying potential customers, analyzing competitors and/or platforms, what people think about your business, and companies’ valuation of real estate, finance, and investment. Now let’s examine these things in a little more detail.
- Let’s talk about market research first. First, we need to understand what market research is. Market research is the process of gathering information about your competitors and prospects, asking questions, and evaluating your results before entering a market when considering starting a business/company. The method by which we can collect the said data in the fastest and most reliable way is, of course, the web scraping method. With the web scraping technique, companies can access high volume and high-quality web data with the potential to be a turning point of great importance in the decisions they will take in the future. With web scraping, you can even do market trend analysis, entry point optimization, and market pricing using an API scraper.
- Second, we’ll start with pricing. As many of you know, businesses or companies do not randomly determine the prices of their products. There are many factors in the pricing process. The data that can be accessed by the web scraping method are important parameters such as pricing of competing companies, data such as existing stock, and product description. After obtaining this information, any company makes a price optimization for the product, and in this way, it makes a much more effective entry into the market in question. This process can be called “price intelligence”. Web scraping is one of the most effective and fastest methods that can be used to provide price intelligence.
- Third, we’ll talk about identifying potential customers and even generating customers. Let’s say you own a company. You want to build a customer base for your company. You will need more than a few customers to compete with your competitors in the industry. First, you need to create a customer base. You need to enter platforms such as LinkedIn. With web scraping, you can do customer analysis and determine how you can attract customers. But the work does not end here. You should analyze the requests of your potential customers well and use this method to protect your potential customers and increase your customer base by getting support from web scraping to compete with rival companies.
- Fourth, you need to analyze your competitors. You will have many competitors in the sector you will enter or in. If you analyze your opponent’s correctly and make the right moves, you will be more likely to get ahead of them. With the web scraping method, you can thoroughly analyze your competitors no matter what your industry or target industry is. Of course, analysis can be done without web scraping, but the more dynamic your industry is, the harder your job will be. Web scraping will give you both speed and reliable information on this, and these are huge advantages over the competition. With the speed of web scraping, you can access data from many companies in a short time, compare them and determine your moves.
- The fifth thing we will talk about is learning what people and your competitors think about your company. It is much more important than one might think. So much so that what your competitors think about you is very important for your next step. Because if you control their thoughts about you, you can make moves that can get ahead of your competitors. In addition, it is very important to know what your potential customers or existing customer base think of your company. In this regard, taking advantage of the blessings of the internet will provide you with a great speed and advantage. What we mean is, by using the web scraping method, you can instantly follow the thoughts and opinions of people and competitor companies for your company through your company’s public relations and marketing departments.
- The sixth thing we will talk about is your company’s real estate. In today’s world, companies are faced with a major digital transformation. So much so that companies that wanted to remain loyal to the traditional structure could not be successful in this way and these companies were driven to bankruptcy. With the help of web scraping, companies can assess their real estate values, monitor vacancy rates, predict potential rental and sales revenues, and gain immense speed and precision advantages in the market compared to working with traditional methods.
- The last thing we will talk about is investment and finance. For a company to grow and survive, it is essential to invest and master financial data. Developing financially or at least protecting its value is of great importance for the survival of a company, and this financial development is possible through tools such as investment. Being able to see what to invest in, optimized graphics is quite difficult without technology and especially web scraping. Web scraping quickly provides your company with accurate data on this and gives a huge advantage over traditional methods.
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