Data Extraction is a process of scraping unstructured web data from web pages into analyzable formats. Along with the importance of big data in every field, data extraction has become a must-have skill for people. The more data you extract, the more chances of knowing about the market trends, competitors' strategies or having a clear picture of the next step needed to take.
But how to do data extraction efficiently has been haunting us. In this article, we will share some tips to master data extraction.
Data source discovery
Before starting to scrape data, the first thing to do is to confirm the data source-where to scrape the data from. The data source would mainly depend on scraping purposes. For example, if you want to find out the average price of one product, you can lock your data source in some famous e-commerce websites such as Amazon and eBay. We've listed some data sources for you in the blog 70 Amazing Free Data Sources You Should Know for 2020.
After deciding which sites you want to extract data from, check if a public API is available. For instance, Amazon provides its Amazon Product Advertising API for free. Using public API makes data collection easier; however, not every website offers such an API and the API may be simply not sufficient. You can still turn to web scraping to have more data.
Choosing the right extraction tool helps get twice the result with half the effort. How to select a tool highly relates to scraping needs. Here are some points you should make clear:
1. The tool can scrape the website you want and can pull all the information you need.
Website pages are widely divergent. It is important that the tool can scrape all kinds of pages; otherwise, you may need to change to another tool during the scraping process.
Octoparse can scrape most of the websites since it integrates a built-in browser. It takes down every kind of page, no matter pages with infinite scrolling, login, drop-down, AJAX. Everything you can see on the page, text, links, and images can be scraped.
2. It is handy to use.
This is quite important when you know nothing about coding. The scraping tool should help you to configure a scraper in minutes. Websites often update quickly and even small changes may break your scraper down. An easy-to-use tool also helps you modify the scraper accordingly with simple steps.
Octoparse integrates a graphical user interface to create scrapers with points and clicks in a few minutes. Its pre-built scraping templates even free users from scraper configuration. Inputting several parameters will produce the results.
3. It delivers data in your desired format.
It’s better to go for a tool that can deliver data in multiple formats so that you can always rely on them even when your requirements change.
Octoparse can export the data in excel, CSV, and JSON files. It supports transferring data directly to the database as well.
4. It can handle anti-scraping mechanisms.
Many websites have implemented anti-scraping mechanisms like captcha or IP blocking to avoid being blocked. A good scraping tool should have technology that can take care of such situations.
Octoparse Cloud Service is supported by hundreds of Cloud servers, each with a unique IP address to minimize the chances of being traced and blocked
5. It offers great customer support and detailed documentation.
It is crucial that you can find someone to deal with any issues you have or at least you can get a tutorial or an FAQ to figure that out.
Octoparse offers plenty of case tutorials and FAQs in its help center to help users be skilled using the software.
Most of the tools would offer a free trial to let users test out before purchasing. You can try as much as you can to see if it can achieve your needs.
Respect the target websites
You should never try to overload a website even though you've got a powerful tool with all kinds of technologies to overcome anti-scraping mechanisms. Scraping too much would only push the website to upgrade its anti-scraping tech. Treat the website nicely, so you will be able to keep collecting data from it.
Mastering data extraction is no longer hard for everyone with abundant data sources on the internet and functional extraction tools. Choosing the right source and a good tool, you would get data easier and faster.