Web scraping, also known as web crawling, (web) data extraction, data mining, screen scraping, is the process of collecting large amounts of data from the web, then save to a file, database, etc. Let’s dig deeper into web scraping.
It’s estimated that the Internet has doubled in size every year since 2012. So what does this mean? Yes, there’s a lot of data. These data could help you substantially if you know what to do with it. Now the question boils down to how do you collect the data? if you just navigate from site to site, picking the information you want, and then copy and paste it to another file, it would be way too time consuming and tedious although it has been the only choice for a long time before automatic web crawler becomes available. Most people are not technical enough to build a crawler from scratch, neither do they have enough budgets to purchase the data, hence using the web scraping tools (refer to Top 5 Web Scraping Tools Review for more information) like Octoparse for data scraping would be the best choice for an anyone who wants to mine the web for more insights.
Any data visible on the web can be crawled even those websites require login information if you have the credentials. Here’s how most of web scraping tools work: open the web page for browsing, and then automatically extract the selected data from hundreds or thousands of URLs at the same time or in scheduled sequence.
You may ask why. What’s the point, and what are some of the things you can do with these scraped data? My answer is a good decision, strategy or plan made based on the amount of the data you had.
So how can you use web scraping tools? Here are 3 typical ways for marketing decision.
There are many tactics you could try to generate a lead depending on the nature of your business. Social media, community like Quora, conferences, guest posting, paid ads, lead magnets, etc. And how does web scraping help generate leads?
In essence, a lead can be easily defined as contact details that fits a profile. If you have a new cloud Medical SaaS for anesthesiologists, you need a list of anesthesiologists; if you have a new product that want to persuade all real estate agents to use it, you need their information.
A web scraper could automatically collect the information for you: name, location, city, zip code, phone number, website, etc.
And you could further qualify those leads by searching or filtering the scraped data by keywords, or any other criteria to find your exact personas. So it’s not just leads, it’s qualified leads. That’s a goldmine.
With these scraped contact details, you could build your customer base and keep a steady flow of prospects heading into your sales funnel.
All these information is available online if you know where to look. Two good resources to get the information are Yellowpages and Yelp. Here are the links for you to learn how to scrape the data from these two websites:
Market research is part of the due diligence for business owners. A web scraper can extract the necessary data into structured formats from market research firms, directories, news sites, and industry blogs. With this, you could gather information about the opportunities, and organize an extensive list of the direct and indirect competition, or the potential customer base (based on your buyer personas) in a given area, and more.
For example, a real estate company could use the scraped auction, sales, and pricing data to keep abreast of market trends and real-time competitive pricing structures.
Search Engine Optimization
If you have a website, no matter what it is, whether it’s a product or a service, whether it’s something everyone could use or designed for a small niche; if you want to promote online and work with data, you need to get more traffic to grow your market.
There are different channels to get traffic, including direct, organic, referral, social, paid. For most of websites, it comes from organic search. There are several ways to boost your organic search traffic, but they all ultimately revolves around search engine optimization (SEO).
Let’s take Octoparse for example and see what you could do with web scraping for SEO management and analysis.
First, we could track the page ranks over time by scraping various search engine results pages for given keywords.
We know that Octoparse is a web scraping tool and I want to know that where Octoparse rank for each targeted keyword with “web scraping”, so I enter targeted keywords to extract the search results (refer to How to Scrape Data by Searching Multiple Keywords on A Website for more information), and export these data into excel.
By finding out what ranks before Octoparse, I give up some keywords considering there may be some virtually unbeatable websites.
Second, to rank higher for more exposure and clicks, I turn to direct competition and see what keywords and phrases they’re ranking for and targeting at. A thorough scrape and text analysis of their site content can give me insight into the titles, keywords, descriptions, links.
Then I could take some actions to generate some high quality articles to generate traffic from search engine.
Third, rankings change all the time. I need to keep an eye on the updated data so that I could know whether I’m moving up, moving down, or staying the at the same level. Most of web scrapers provide cloud service to get real-time data. For example, Octoparse Cloud Service enables users to schedule the crawlers to get the updated data over time. You can refer to How To Get Organic Traffic From Search Engine To Your Blog for more traffic generating tips.
There are many other ways to use web scraping tools like job hunting and recruiting, financial planning, etc. I’ve only mentioned a small part but hopefully it would give you some ideas about how to use the scraped data. With large amounts of data available online, you need a simple solution to collect and sift through it.
A scraping tool allows you to benefit from automatic web scraping without having to install anything or learn coding.