We live in a modern world of digital technology and all of the world’s information is easily accessible on the Internet. Whether a text, image, audio, or other data format, every web page uses one or several of these types of content. Why is this important? Because the value, development, and market success of any business highly depends on strategies they make using current data.
Gathering data from multiple sources, analyzing information, and generating reports in real-time is the key to gaining a competitive advantage and achieving better employee collaboration, customer service, lead tracking and conversion, marketing, sales, and more. Unfortunately, the majority of this data is locked.
This is where data scraping services come in handy as the best way to acquire a mass amount of data in data extraction formats you prefer. Contrary to other data scraping techniques (manual scraping, apps, open sources), web scraping services allow you to save and use data for your intended purposes.
Having said that, how familiar are you with different data scraping formats and their benefits? Everything from data tables, plain texts, documents, audio files, and images can be a useful piece of business intelligence in just about any case where data needs to be fast, affordable and accessible in short timeframes. Here are some of the popular data collection formats and ways you can use them.
CSV Format & eCommerce: Recognize Market Opportunities
The CSV format (comma-separated values) is by far the simplest format there is. It’s a tabular format that saves data as a plain-text and offers no other particular functions than collecting information for various business purposes. Since CSV files are plain-text, they are easier for web developers to create and companies to export to another database, regardless of the software in use, and users to import into a spreadsheet.
In other words, CSV files help better organize, analyze, and visualize large amounts of gathered data thanks to the format’s compatibility with different programs and tools such as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. Due to this simple organization and manipulation of CVS formats, eCommerce businesses can rapidly import, export, and exchange customer or order data to and from a database or convert them to other file types.
However, the CSV format still remains too basic for having detailed and/or organized data. It doesn’t have formatting functions and it’s limited to one sheet only.
Microsoft Excel: Bring Data Together to Build Data-Empowered Strategies
Moving on to a more flexible file format, Microsoft Excel is perhaps the most widely utilized data scraping form used in the workplace and for office presentations.
The main reason for it is that Excel allows users to perform calculations, open new sheets within one file, and put together research discovery, statistics, and other critical data into a visual presentation that can make powerful business reports, good marketing materials, and forecasts for developing potent strategies for the future.
You can filter and organize information inserted into individual cells and even reference specific cells by using versatile Excel tools. Also, you can play with color and fonts to emphasize related graph data, highlight a row for comparing values, and demonstrate key points emerging from the information. As if bringing all data together wasn’t enough, Excel also allows you to keep your charts and tables with multiple sheets in one file.
Enhance Productivity with Google Sheets
Google Spreadsheets is often a go-to solution for busy organizations that find the Internet and team collaboration vital for their daily operations. Spreadsheets offer a wide range of advantages, from simple access to shared data collection files via laptop or tablet, to simultaneous data editing capabilities, automatically saved changes, and ability to work on scripted data in offline mode.
That’s right, you and your staff can work on a Google Sheet without an internet connection and expect the system to track and save changes on the drive. Speaking of changes, all edits users ever make in a document are saved and available for review. You can also share files with other people to save time on back-and-forth email communication and even convert Excel files into Google Sheets.
PDF Files Help Maintain Business Consistency & Safety
Contrary to the user-friendly Google Sheets, PDF files are safely locked away from editing and copying data. The Portable Document Format (PDF) format is very important for companies who require a significant level of data protection. This type of file is often used by businesses for sending private memos, invoicing clients, maintaining customer records in one format, and making sure the document lands in the right hands in its purest form.
Moreover, the PDF format is great for storing scraped data because it can store everything (text, image, audio, charts, etc.) and still look the same on any device. Regardless of the software or program in use, files retain their quality, which makes PDF files ideal for printing purposes.
Since this format is quite small, it won’t consume much space on your drive if you scrape a lot of data. But the best part is that PDF files offer password protection, which is a must when dealing with sensitive customer data and critical business documents.
Take Advantage of JPEG Multi-Platform Compatibility
JPEG formats are most common data scraping formats with a long tradition and support from every web browser and image editor on the market. JPEG is a standard format for every digital image, which is why it’s the best format to choose for scraping images. Since it’s small in file size, it doesn’t take up much storage space, and it also allows users to additionally reduce the file size without sacrificing the quality of their digital content.
While PDF is also good for saving audio files, it might not be the best choice for scraping notations. Instead, give MSCZ format a chance because it’s specially designed for music. MSCZ will not exhaust your hard drive, and it has Windows, MAC, and Linux support.
Make the Most of Data Scraping: Know Your Format
For businesses that want to thrive in efficiency and excellent organization, it’s essential to implement correct data management. Determine which of these formats meet your business requirements in terms of customization, ease-of-use, and other capabilities, especially if the business needs to handle a large amount of data. Also, keep mind that there are different data extraction techniques to choose as well, from simple to more advanced.
Contrary to web crawling or indexing the information on z page by using bots (“crawlers”) and using automated web data extraction via “scrapers” (also bots), web scraping services allow you to leverage quality data, cut automation costs and save data scraping formats of your choice. This way, the only thing left to do is select your data scraping format and let the data scraping service providers take care of the rest.
For such specific needs as data crawling in a form of external business intelligence, we would recommend using AnswersEngine. It provides the ability to not only harvest much needed and valid data for your business or individual purposes but also lets you visualize for quick planning and analyzing. After requesting and getting the crawled data all that is left for you to do is to simply query your questions in their internal database and get the most suiting answers.