Web data scraping is a new popular way of data collection nowadays. The web is full of all kinds of information. This information can benefit you in so many ways, but it can be hard to collect and organize it in a way that fits all your needs. That’s why there are currently many web crawling tools, as well as data scraping services that make the data extraction process easier.
In this blog post, we will answer the most common questions about data scraping services.
We have divided these questions into 4 main sections: general questions, questions about some limitations that data scraping might have, the legal side of web data scraping and what it can offer to your business.
General Questions on Web Data Scraping
1. What kind of information can be scraped (text/images/video)?
Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites. The whole idea behind data crawling is that it copies all the information available on a web page so that you can use that raw data for your personal purposes. The process of web scraping is carried out by coding.
That’s why it doesn’t matter if you need to scrape text or an image. Whatever data you need, you can easily crawl it by simply inputting correct coding.
2. What type of analyses or reports I can generate with scraping?
If you work with a web data scraping service, then you will get raw data in an already formatted and structured way. There are too many ways to analyze the data and create projections and reports.
For example, you can analyze competitor-related data to create more competitive strategies. Also, you can use data about your potential customers scraped from different online platforms for generating more leads and boosting customer engagement.
Other examples are price monitoring, identifying trends, as well as stock behavior predictions. All of these are possible by scraping and analyzing the data available on the web.
3. How is the data being presented to you that you’ll be searching? Is it a CSV file?
A data scraping service will usually provide you with the data in the format of your choice. The most optimal formats for data are CSV, JSON, XML, and Excel, however, you can request the data in other formats too.
Contact the service to find out in which formats they can deliver your data.
4. How often are these websites refreshed, and how fresh does your data need to be?
The freshness of data depends on the type of data.
What type of data are you looking for?
If you need data to identify current trends, of course, you need to look for it on websites that provide up-to-date information. However, in other cases, you might also need historical data from the past. So the freshness of the data matters for specific industries or topics. If you collect data on a regular basis to stay up-to-date, then you most surely want to make sure that the websites used are fresh.
Limitations: What Can and Can’t be Crawled
5. Are there any limitations on scraping online data?
There are some limitations involved in web data scraping.
There are websites that have powerful protection installed on their sites. Using tools to data crawl the website can be inefficient because of these protections. Most of the APIs and web scraping tools don’t have the capacity to beat them. However, data scraping services usually don’t face such an issue. Professional web data scraping service providers work with scraping technologies that can easily scrape information, and solve all the issues that hamper data extraction.
6. Can you extract data from the entire web?
Data extraction works on the whole website. However, it can create only a limited portion of data. There’s no web scraping service or tool that can extract everything. With the help of web scraping, you can crawl all the data only from the surface web. Currently, being the biggest search engine, even Google crawls only the surface data.
7. Can you crawl Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn?
Web scraping is often used for crawling social media pages, so yes, you can most definitely crawl Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. These platforms have data that highly valuable to businesses. However, automated scraping from them is blocked via robots.txt.
Yet, web scraping services can access social media platforms and web scrape data from these platforms too.
8. Can you extract data from multi-lingual sites?
Data crawling works the same on all web pages, regardless of the language of the site. Language has nothing to do with the scraping process. Hire a web scraping service that has previous experience in crawling pages in the language of your preference.
That is very important because if the crawling team doesn’t know the language, they won’t be able to figure out the data fields to be extracted. So they have to be well-versed in the language.
Legal Side of Web Data Scraping
9. Is it legal to use web scraped data?
Web scraping is legal because the information that is web scraped from the web page can be viewed by any person. As long as you can see the data and manually crawl it, there’s no violation if you do it with the help of coding or order the data from the web scraping service. Most websites allow web crawling on the surface web.
However, there are some legal limitations regarding how you want to use that data.
In May of 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law came into effect. The aim of the law is to protect people’s personal information, such as name, phone number or email address. Businesses are using such data pretty aggressively for their marketing purposes. Now, you have to get the user’s consent in order to use their personal data.
That’s why a lot of websites often ask the user if they agree to share their data with third-party services for marketing purposes.
So it’s crucial for web data scraping services to take extra precautions, such as GDPR, before involving in the crawling process.
10. Why is data crawling illegal in some countries?
Data crawling can’t be completely illegal in a country where people can freely use the internet. Have you ever copied and pasted something from the website?
If yes, then you have been involved in manual web scraping.
There’s no country that has banned web scraping. However, the legal regulations of the usage of that data vary from country to country.
There’s also an ethical side of web scraping, which sometimes creates more issues for people. The crawled data can lead to massive plagiarism or theft of intellectual property.
So it’s not only about legality, but ethics too. In fact, there’s no meaning in making web scraping illegal in the whole country because even the government officials often use web scraping for different purposes.
11. Are there any legal or technical requirements preventing you from accessing the data?
There are no technical difficulties involved if you’re crawling the website via an API. If you’re crawling a website that approves the API tool you’re using, there shouldn’t be any issues. However, there are more technical issues involved with other crawling techniques.
Whereas you shouldn’t worry about the technical part of web crawling if you outsource the work to a web data scraping service. A good service provider always has a team of professional scrappers, who will take care of all the technical difficulties. It’s also important to note that professionals working for a good web scraping service know very well all the legal requirements of data crawling.
So if you hire a decent web scraping service, you can sit back and relax before your data arrives.
12. Can you republish content extracted via web crawling?
If you want to republish scraped information, you can do it only with the consent of the owner of the data. Otherwise, you’ll get involved in plagiarism, which is an illegal activity. So as long as you do not infringe the copyrights of the publisher, you can use the content however you want.
Web Scraping for Business
13. How my business can benefit from web scraping?
Web scraping can offer many benefits to your business. Here are some of them:
- Monitor the market – data crawling can help you to monitor the market in which you’re operating and create more competitive strategies. For example, you can monitor your competitors’ prices for price optimization. By collecting and analyzing data, you’ll be able to always create better offers and be a step ahead of the competition.
- Lead generation – data scraping is a commonly used tool by businesses for lead generation. In general, lead generation is an essential aspect of any businesses’ success. With web scraping, companies collect a lot of lead data to analyze and create better offers for conversion.
- Better connection with the customers – you can use web data crawling for scraping customer data as well. For example, the feedbacks and reviews left by the customers can be very useful for your business’s development. Also, data can help to better understand the trends and demands of the industry to satisfy the wants of your customers.
14. Can you use data scraping for lead generation?
As already noted in the previous section, data scraping is often used for lead generation. Consider scraping competitors’ website, event websites, and blogs to get a huge database of people who are your potential leads.
15. Which are the industries that businesses commonly scrape?
The most common industries that benefit from scraping are as follows:
- E-commerce – to collect competitors’ information and customer reviews to build competitive strategies.
- Travel agencies – to find the hottest tours and cheapest tickets.
- Media companies – to stay up-to-date and be informed of the latest news and trends.
- Real estate companies – to scrape data on current and potential customers to create customer profiles, so that sales specialists can make them offers.
16. What is the best solution for web data scraping for a business?
There are two main ways of scraping: web scraping service and web scraping tools. Although both are a good way of data extraction, when it comes to business, it’s better to work with data scraping service providers. The reason is that, when you own a business, working with a web data scraping service is more cost and time-efficient.
If you do scraping on your own, it will take a lot of time and distract you from your main job. Or you will have to hire specialists who will scrape for your business, however, you will also have to pay extra salaries.
So when you hire a scraping service company that will provide you with fresh raw data on a regular basis, you will be able to analyze the data without spending time on the scraping part.
More questions? Contact us
We have answered the most common questions regarding the web scraping services to eliminate all your doubts. If you still have some questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Pictures’ Source: Freepik