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What is Web Scraping & Why Do You Need It?

By August 2, 2017 No Comments
web-scraping

scrapingexpert.com

If you’ve never heard of web scraping, you’re in for a treat. Website scraping is one of the oldest growth hacking techniques there is – before growth hacking was a “thing”. So what is it and why do you need to it? Read on for the answers.

What Is It?

Web scraping is when you extract data from a website for a specific reason. For example, you can use it build up a sales pipeline in order to find out what your competitors pricing is. It may be an “age-old” process, but it’s a great way to grow a business.

This practice is widely used in digital campaigns but it has a rocky past. If you’re using bots to scan pages or copy important data, you may be taking information that you shouldn’t be. There was a famous case between eBay and Bidder’s Edge that put the legalities of web scraping in the limelight.

Bidder’s Edge was a “data aggregator for auction sites” and eBay was one of its main pricing sources. But, it eventually got to the point where Bidder’s Edge was using so much data that it caused eBay’s servers to crash. Although the actual website scraping itself was okay, Bidder’s Edge was liable since it disrupted eBay’s servers.

Now, though, there are some rules in place for this practice. Some things to watch out for are copyrights, violating privacy laws or terms of use, and hindering the host’s server.

How To Use Website Scraping

The most common form of website scraping is setting up a robot.txt file. A robot.txt file tells a web crawler what to look for on a specific page. For example, if you are an electronics resellers and a new iPhone was just released, you can tell the file to go to other stores (like Best Buy or eBay) and tell it to search for the term “iPhone” or “new iPhone” to collect the prices.

While it may sound like you need years of coding experience, setting up a robot.txt file doesn’t even require learning to code.

For one, there are certain platforms that allow you to set up the file. Parehub, for example, allows you open an web page and get the data you need all in one place. The free version is a great way to get introduced to the world of world scraping.

The more you can familiar with web scraping, the more you can use it to your advantage. Website scraping is a simple, old-age trick to gain an edge on the competition – and who doesn’t want that?

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