Actionable insights extracted from data can be a key contributor to the success of companies. It differentiates businesses from their competitors across different spheres of operations, from marketing and customer satisfaction to pricing and product quality.
And for a company to extract actionable insights from data, it must first collect the data in the first place. With the increased ubiquity of the internet, most businesses now have websites.
This presents a convenient avenue from which you can collect data in a process known as web scraping.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping, also known as web data harvesting or web data extraction, is the process of collecting publicly available data from websites.
It relates to both manual methods of data collection, particularly copying and pasting, as well as automated methods that rely on bots known as web scrapers. However, the term is mostly used to refer to the latter context.
If you want to collect data using web scrapers, you can create a custom bot or purchase an off-the-shelf scraping software.
The first option requires you or a team member to have technical programming knowledge. This is because you will need to create a scraping bot from scratch using programming languages.
Fortunately, however, Python simplifies the creation process because it has multiple web scraping libraries such as the Python requests library, lxml, Beautiful Soup, Selenium, and Scrapy – find more info to get to know the process in more detail.
But if you do not have a technical background and are not looking to hire a developer for the sole purpose of creating a scraper, you can simply purchase scraping software.
Benefits of Web Scraping for Businesses
Web scraping packs numerous benefits for businesses. And businesses, including yours, can enjoy them regardless of whether they elect to create a custom web scraper or purchase scraping software.
The various benefits of web scraping include:
- Lead generation
- Market research and competitor monitoring
- Price and product monitoring
- Review and reputation monitoring
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Background checks
You can capitalize on the power of web scrapers to extract publicly available contact information linked to potential customers. With this database, you can begin marketing campaigns aimed at generating their interest in your products or services.
Market Research and Competitor Monitoring
Web scraping enables businesses to undertake market research to identify the number of companies operating in a given segment or industry. It also allows companies to establish new entrants and their products, helping them to prepare in advance.
Price and Product Monitoring
Web scraping allows businesses to uncover their competitors’ pricing strategies. This enables them to set competitive prices for their products or services. Similarly, companies can collect data on competing products, including the packaging, size, and ingredients.
Using this information, they can establish whether a gap exists for a product they are looking to launch. Alternatively, this information sets a foundation for the launch of products that are one up on the competitors.
Review and Reputation Monitoring
Any business selling products or services should be concerned about what buyers say about their offerings. This information can be found on review sites and the review sections of e-commerce platforms. Sometimes, news outlets may also have something to say about a company.
Negative feedback, if left unaddressed, can tarnish a company’s reputation. So, businesses that have a reputation to protect can use web scrapers to easily and speedily unearth recently posted reviews, enabling them to respond to negative feedback.
At the same time, the reviews provide a basis for the company to identify the areas that need improvement and those that customers find to be most appealing.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The first search engine results page (SERP) search results are deemed trustworthy and authoritative. Little wonder, therefore, that they receive a large chunk of search traffic – between 71-92%.
Appearing first, SERP is subject to several elements, such as keywords and backlinks, collectively known as search engine optimization strategies.
Businesses can scrape the search results to uncover the keywords used by the websites whose web pages are listed among the first entries on the SERPs. They can then strategically integrate these keywords into their content. This is a surefire way of increasing their search ranking and, by extension, their search traffic.
Companies can use web scraping to unearth information about potential partners, suppliers, and hires. This ensures that they are working with entities that have a clean history.
Your business can benefit significantly from web scraping. These benefits include collecting and generating leads, undertaking background checks, implementing proven SEO strategies, and monitoring competition, among others.
As a business owner, it is noteworthy that you can enjoy these benefits; you only need to create a reliable web scraper using Python web scraping libraries such as the Python requests library or purchase an off-the-shelf web scraper.