Data collection using web scraping techniques
Web scraping, web harvesting, or web data extraction is data scraping used for extracting data from websites. Web scraping software may access the World Wide Web directly using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or through a web browser. While web scraping can be done manually by a software user, the term typically refers to automated processes implemented using a bot or web crawler. It is a form of copying, in which specific data is gathered and copied from the web, typically into a central local database or spreadsheet, for later retrieval or analysis.
Among new and growing businesses, web scraping has become a familiar term, especially due to the idea that harvesting large data is necessary to stay in the market. Not all companies have what it takes to extract data through web scraping and so they outsource the services to a reputable agency. They do this because the internet contains unstructured data that cannot be used in the format in which they exist.
Below are some web scraping techniques.
In manual scraping, what you do is copy and paste web content. This is time-consuming and repetitive and begs for a more effective means of web scraping. It is however very effective because a website’s defences are targeted at automated scraping and not manual scraping techniques. Even with this benefit, manual scraping is hardly being done because it is time-consuming while automated scraping is quicker and cheaper.
Google sheets are a web scraping tool that is quite popular among web scrapers. From within sheets, a scraper can make use of IMPORT XML (,) function to scrape as much data as is needed from websites. This method is only useful when specific data or patterns are required from a website. You can also use this command to check if your website is secure from scraping.
Vertical aggregation platforms are created by companies with access to large scale computing power to target specific verticals. Some companies run the platforms on the cloud. Bots creation and monitoring for specific verticals are done by these platforms without any human intervention. The quality of the bots is measured based on the quality of data they extract since they are created based on the knowledge base for the specific vertical.
3. Scripts and Libraries
Programming languages such as python have useful libraries such as beautiful soup which can be run as scripts to target certain html elements in webpages.
Learn more on web scraping in our Data Science Course