Web scraping is an automated strategy for extracting information on the internet. It is mostly used to collect public data from retailer websites, search engines, and social media platforms.
The process involves writing a simple data scraping script that can later increase in complexity and multi-functionality. However, everything starts with a simple HTTP request to extract information, usually an HTML file.
At first, it seems like a web scraper does nothing unusual – the same things happen during a simple connection to a web server. Still, this is only the first part of data collection, and well-written scraping scripts can target multiple websites at the same time. Manual extraction of these files would take a few minutes, and automation greatly accelerates these monotonous tasks.
After the obtained files, the data parser steps in to do its work. Depending on the used parsing library, it restructures the HTML code to obtain raw information within it. The result – organized data sets, changing it into a format that is simple to read and analyze.
Imagine going to a website of a retail competitor. With a good data scraper, all you have to do is click a button and end up with a list of products and their prices, organized in ascending order. If your business deals are similar, you can adjust your pricing to undercut the competitor or introduce new products if you see that they sell well on their website.
This is just one of many examples of how web scraping benefits businesses. In this article, we will discuss data scraping and how it unlocks new opportunities as well as highlight security weaknesses. We will also address the importance of multifunctional data collection tools and why companies buy them instead of writing their scripts.
For example, an Amazon scraper comes with built-in proxy servers and other features that help collect data. By combining multiple flexible tools into one complex software, companies can keep an eye on all competitors and make snappy decisions. You can get an Amazon scraper yourself or separate web scrapers and proxy servers to get the most from their versatility. To learn more about data collection to improve your businesses, check out informative blog articles from proxy providers that specialize in web scraping, like this guide on Amazon scraping from Smartproxy.
How data scraping uncover security weaknesses
With a well-written data scraper, hackers and cyber criminals may attempt to scan all pages on your website. Without sufficient protection, it can lead to data leaks if pages with sensitive information are not encrypted and secure.
Another malicious way to scrape the web focuses on overwhelming the server with connection requests. You can use one or multiple scraping bots to target and slow down the website. This way, you get all the data from the page faster and create a simple DDoS attack that overwhelms the server.
Things are not as fun if you are on the receiving end of malicious web scraping. Still, testing your page with these scraping attempts is a great way to uncover vulnerabilities that could harm the site in the future. Once they are uncovered, we recommend setting up reverse proxies to filter the incoming traffic and prevent or minimize the damage of DDoS attacks in the future.
Web scraping for businesses
Here we cover the most popular web scraping use cases for businesses. Here you will learn the best ways to utilize data collection and how the best data science experts scale up the process to center a new business model around it.
Competitor price intelligence
By targeting many competitors and their online shops at the same time, businesses can build data sets that give an overview of pricing trends in the market. Connecting price changes to decisions by these businesses helps us better understand their success and what can be done to outperform them. A popular strategy involves constant tracking of competitive pricing for undercutting and staying aware of future changes.
Web scraping for marketing
The internet and social media platforms are the hotspots of modern advertising. Web scraping will help you find the best partners and trending topics and structure your marketing around them. You can scrape pages and accounts of competitors to see what they are up to or gather data about mentions of their products.
Companies with the best data scraping experts can launch an aggregator business. The process involves gathering knowledge about the goods or services of all competitors in the market for comparison. Then, the visitors will see your page as the go-to source of the best available deals.
The most popular aggregator companies share airplane and booking prices, real estate or rent, and other comparisons of products. Once the page is successful, you can strike up affiliate partnerships with displayed businesses.
Web scraping is an irreplaceable tool in the digital business environment. However, because everyone is using data collection bots, business owners must take care of their security as well. This involves protecting the web page from malicious web scraping and hiding bot connections with proxy servers.