Web Scraping as a Service: Advantages and Disadvantages

By on February 11, 2020

What is web scraping?

Web scraping is a technique developers use to extract or “scrape” out vast volumes of data from websites. It is an automated, 3-step process, similar to a user manually copying information from websites. Large scale data harvesting requires some special government tools.

There are two main components to help you with the process. The crawler, aka “spider”, an AI-based program that browses the Internet for information. The scraper, guided by the crawler, digs out the data. The steps for web scraping are listed below

Step 1: The tool is customized to suit the data extraction requirements

Step 2: The data is then extracted in HTML format. Note that this data is in raw form

Step 3: Here, the information is finally customized, sorted and stored as per the specifications of the project.

Advantages of web scraping

Web scraping is an indispensable part of several industries. Market research, finance and management are some of the top sectors to reap the benefits. Here are some additional perks of web scraping;

  • Cost-effective: Web scraping is quicker than manual data extraction. It’s also an affordable, budget-friendly process
  • Web visibility: It helps e-commerce ventures improve their search ranking and web visibility immensely
  • Gather valuable insights: With web scraping, data experts can gather valuable stats on the market. For more information, you can refer to this research paper on data extraction.
  • Better accuracy: Web scraping is very accurate, as well. You can now extract the right information for the right sources.

Disadvantages of web scraping

Web scraping, though useful in most sectors, has a few downsides as well. These disadvantages can delay the data extraction process causing last-minute hassles.

  • Steeper learning curve: Web scraping is a complicated process. It can be handled only by professionals with excellent coding skills
  • Technical glitches: Some websites do not allow screen scraping.
  • Difficult to customize: The data extracted is in raw form. It gets difficult to sort through the data and store in the correct specification.
  • Not for beginners: Web scrapping also complicates the data analysis process. Anyone who is not a data expert would find the application tardy.

Applications in digital marketing

Web scraping is an excellent tool for digital marketers, giving them insights into the demand metrics and trends of the industry. Some other practical, real-life applications of web extraction are discussed below. Check it out;

Market research

Market research is a complex, dynamic field. Marketing experts and analysts are always on the lookout for the next big thing. It is very easy to trend overnight on the Internet. Maintaining that position and being consistent is what takes real effort.

With web scraping, you can gather better insights into what your customers want. It helps the marketer identify their target demographic. Tracking the raw data retrieved by scrapers, experts can draw an accurate picture of what your market looks like.

Content marketing

Everything is content driven these days. People want specific content that is tailor-made to their needs. With web scraping tools, you can get insights on what the customer wants. It gives you ample information about the trending topics of your industry. This would assist content creators and developers in generating relatable, relevant posts.

Web scrapers help bridge the gap between the buyer and the seller. With these services, you can now generate multiple marketing campaigns and strategies for your business. What’s more, the results gathered from these R&D projects are pretty active and accurate.

Brand monitoring

The market landscape has new ventures joining the competition every other day. With web scraping, you get an idea about your peers and what they are doing. Moreover, it also helps you track your performance. How is your brand faring in the market? Who is your target demographic? How can you improve your performance? These are some questions that web scraping services help you out with.

With web scraping, you can figure out a holistic picture of the market and your place in it. The insights gathered from the extracted data helps you look inwards as well. It is a practical way to self-check, introspect and improve your business.

Expanding client base

Web scraping gives you access to multiple platforms online. You can now extract data from websites, blogs and even social media profiles. It is an excellent way for start-ups to expand their contacts and reach out to more people. Social media has had a significant impact on digital marketing trends these days. Reach out to influencers, collaborate with other businesses, connect with your clients- web scraping makes everything easy. Web scraping is also a smart way to recruit employees, designers and developers for your enterprise.

SEO optimization

A high SEO rank automatically converts to more views. Search engines like Google usually rank websites based on their relevance and credibility. Being featured in the top page results ensures that you have better chances of being seen. With web scraping, you have a better understanding of your market. Look into the trending keywords and search terms used by browsers. Incorporate images, graphics and other features to make your posts more attractive.

The bottom line

The Internet is a vast storehouse of information. With web scraping services, marketers can tap into this data. It is a fantastic asset for digital marketing campaigns, making them more accurate and useful. It also widens your web presence, giving you insights about your customers, clients and competitors.

About Shantanu Biswas

Shantanu works as an inbound content marketer at Page Potato and has more than seven years of experience in SEO and online marketing. He has worked closely with several brands in analyzing online data and executing marketing campaigns to generate more leads. He loves to share his acute observations through blogging, weaving them into a brand story. He also loves to cook, trek, travel, dance and claims to have found his “why” in helping small business owners bloom into established sustainable brands.
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