What would you do if you wished to extract some content from a website, for instance, a paragraph about a prominent person? The first idea that will run through your mind is copying and pasting the desired content from a dedicated web page to your file. This is only possible with small amounts of data.
So, what happens when you want to extract vast amounts of data, such as that of a Machine Learning Algorithm? Copy-pasting will not work in such a situation. That’s where data scraping comes in handy.
The amount of data that we interact with daily is growing exponentially. This surge has compelled data analysis to be an essential tool in the day-to-day running of organizations.
With the steady expansion of the digital economy, the role of web scraping is becoming more significant.
Web scraping employs various intelligence automation methods to extract thousands and millions of data sets in a short period.
In this article, we’ll go over what web scraping is and its pros and cons.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping, also known as data scraping, is a technique that people and entities use to collect structured web data and content from the internet.
The extracted data is usually stored in a local file awaiting further manipulation and analysis when the need arises.
Copying and pasting content from a website to, for instance, an Excel sheet is considered a small-scale web scraping.
Websites come in different forms and shapes. As such, data scrapers vary in features and functionality.
Web scraping bots or applications are programmed such that they can visit an intended website, grab the relevant pages, and eventually extract the needed information.
Automating this process allows the bots to extract lump sum amounts of data in a short time. Any data on a website is scrapable.
For instance, the most common data types that most individuals and entities collect include product information, text, videos, images, pricing from comparison websites, sports stats, product details, stock prices, company contacts, customer reviews, and consumer sentiments.
Pros of Web Scraping for Ecommerce SEO
eCommerce is becoming increasingly significant and gradually establishing its footprint in global trade. There are numerous advantages of web scraping for eCommerce SEO.
Getting Accurate Data for Your Content
Web scraping enables you to pull data directly from a source, guaranteeing the data’s accuracy. You can then use the scraped data to create original, outstanding content for your traffic.
A typical example is scraping data from Statista and using it to create charts and graphs for your blog posts. In addition to boosting your appearance on SERPs, this information will improve your content quality.
Extracting Data for Guest Blogging Opportunities
Guest blogging enables you to enhance your online visibility. It comes in handy when you want to get exposure, build relationships, and improve your search results through backlinks.
Quite often, locating and extracting information from websites with a similar blog style might be futile.
Luckily, web scraping tools are in place to help you upscale your guest blogging opportunities. You can filter and extract your campaign-related content using automated tools.
Creating Vertical Specific Search Engines
You can use web scrapers like Python to build a vertical search engine. A vertical search engine focuses on one particular focus area at a time.
For instance, it may only focus on data about airplane crashes. To create a vertical-specific search engine, you begin by cleaning crash documents for a better search.
The steps involved are:
- Removing stop words
- Tokenizing each document
- Lowering the casing
While building a vertical-specific search engine is quite new but popular in the market, it requires a significantly large amount of data. This justifies why there is a need to web scrape as much public data as possible, as this colossal data volume is practically impossible to extract manually.
Enhancing Scratch Leads
Sales-oriented entities and organizations that generate leads can use web scraping to optimize their scratch leads.
Sales teams benefit greatly from data. With the help of data scrapers, they can pull valuable leads from many directories and contact them for introductory selling.
You can extract the desired data in any form and then use it for brand development and lead generation, among other essential purposes.
Once you have extracted the data, you can easily download it and share it among your team members.
As you analyze the collected data, you will acquire helpful insights that will enable you and your entire organization to understand more about your industry, customers, and products.
Since the information available to you is also available to your competitors, you can use it to positively get a handle on the competition by improving your product development and marketing and thereby pulling more traffic to your website.
In eCommerce SEO, scratch leads will enable you to:
- Perfect your processes by gaining valuable insights into the best way to strengthen your weak organizational links
- Track industry trends so that you can understand your audience and industry much better
- Discover your target audience by knowing the demographics of your existing clients and the audiences that align with your organizational values
Improving Search Results Through Backlinks
Backlinks are valuable elements in SEO as they enable Google to know that a particular website is valuable, authoritative, and relevant to users.
Through backlinks, Google will further tell if your website has legitimate sources.
Once Google authenticates that your content is linked to authentic resources, your chances of ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs) increase steadily.
However, you’ll need to double-check the quality of each link before including it in your content since not all backlinks are made equal.
Web scraping eases the discovery of the links working for you and the ones continually harming your chances of ranking.
With this information at your fingertips, you can quickly eliminate or avoid using backlinks from poor-quality sites, as they are counterproductive. A functional web scraper makes it much easier for you to get rid of such links.
Extracting Metrics Data
In addition to helping you with keyword searches, web scraping tools also enable you to identify your high-performing content pattern. It gives you an idea of how your content resonates with your traffic.
When you run your web scraper, you can quickly tell which content from which webpage has the highest engagement.
It would help if you analyzed data from your most engaging shared content, considering that not all content ranks on the first page on SERP.
Upon analyzing the data your web scraper tool extracts, you can develop a content strategy that lets you fuel your other underperforming web pages and blogs.
Obtaining Search Engine Results for SEO tracking
Keywords are essential SEO elements. They are the lifeblood of any website and typically facilitate your rank on top of the SERPs. Therefore, one priceless strategy is to include relevant keywords in your web pages.
Once you scrape organic search results, finding your SEO competitors for a particular search term becomes effortless. By tracking search engine results, you can determine the keywords your competitors target and their title tags.
This way, you’ll get a rough idea of:
- The necessary resources to help rank your site
- The categories of content that get links and user engagement
- The keywords that drive traffic to a website
For instance, if you were writing about data analysis, you’d most likely use keywords such as “data analysis meaning” and “data analysis tools.” You will not simply add these terms for indexability and crawlability. Having this information implies you can enhance your link-building strategies.
Regardless of your keywords, Google understands the content of your article.
Therefore, you must become more creative and employ tools to identify the terminologies that both Google and your audience deem relevant and valuable to your website.
This is why data scraping is vital, as it helps you identify the keywords your competitors are ranking for.
It also lets you know the kinds of pay-per-click ads your competitors use and the metadata they use for their blogs.
Bringing Together Public Opinion
Web scraping tools enable you to monitor social media pages. This way, you can gather information on people’s opinions on various companies and their products.
Data collection is very significant in product growth, and with web scrapers, you’ll collect all the social media data you need.
Online review sites are the largest repository of customer opinions. On such sites, thousands of consumers post their product experiences daily.
This massive amount of data is available in the public domain, and you can scrap it to gain insight into a particular business, emerging trends, potential opportunities, and competitors.
Web scraping tools and Natural Language Processing (NLP) can let you know consumers’ reactions to your products and services. This way, you can address their feedback on products and services campaigns.
Building Error-free Pages
Web scraping will help you collect accurate data, which you can analyze before creating your web pages. You’ll also need to have basic knowledge of how to troubleshoot standard HTTP error codes.
This way, you can be sure to build a correct, error-free web page devoid of any misleading data. As a result, many will find your page quite helpful and will be encouraged to visit it more often.
Enhancing Your Business’s Online Reputation
When planning your company’s ORM strategy, the data you extract will help you understand the audience your company hopes to impact and the areas of responsibility that will expose your brand to reputation damage.
With this information, you can develop SEO-based content that best serves the interest of your company.
Cons of Web Scraping for Ecommerce SEO
While web scraping has numerous advantages, it also poses many setbacks. This justifies why many companies would somewhat restrict using automated scrapers on their websites.
Below are some of the cons of web scraping:
Infringement of Private Data
Using web scraping tools may lead to infringement of private data policy.
In the health department, for instance, when web scraping is used to monitor the progression of a government in the containment of HIV and Aids, it exposes the personal data of victims of the disease.
A breach in data privacy may lead to the stigmatization of the said victims.
Similarly, in eCommerce SEO, web scraping can affect your company’s privacy by exposing your data.
Therefore, you should take high data privacy precautions to protect your company from such risks.
Breeding Ground for Phishing Scam
Bad actors can use web scraping to acquire information about your company’s industrial partners, portfolios, and leadership organogram. They can use this information to orchestrate a lethal phishing attack on your company.
Hackers may also use scrapers to retrieve information about your employees from employee bios on your site or social media platforms.
This will aid them in learning about your employees and subsequently try guessing their login credentials.
Impacting Negatively on a Company’s SERP Ranking
Web scraping may lead to a knock-off of your content and potential legal ramifications. When Google flags your website as insecure, SERPs will use this information to lower your ranking.
When automated crape tools make repeated requests to servers, they use up the bandwidth, slowing the download time for legit users. If this is not reverted in time, it can lead to site downtime comparable to a DoS attack.
With the help of web scraping, bots can impersonate real sites with a lot of traffic and, instead, populate spam sites. Even worse, they may create content generation strategies that knock off legit companies’ content from other sites.
Search engines have stepped up their ability to detect low-value and fake web pages. As such, auto-generated, short, or outdated content will not achieve much for your SEO. This practice may harm your reputable brand, lowering your SEO ranking on SERPs and decreasing your sales.
Web Changes and Protection Policies
The HTML structures of websites change regularly, which may lead to your scrapers breaking quite often.
Whether you write your web scraping code from scratch or use web scraping software, you must perform periodic maintenance to ensure clean and operational data collection pipelines.
You’ll also need to invest in proxies if you intend to scrap multiple pages on the same website.
If you send multiple HTTP requests from the same IP within a short time, it could raise suspicion, thereby leading to banning the IP. However, having a proxy pool will mean each request comes from a different IP.
Web scraping has been growing fast and will keep expanding over the years. Keep these points in mind when weighing up the benefits of web scraping for your business:
- Web scraping is a technique that people and entities use to collect structured web data and content from the internet.
- It enables you to source accurate data, improve your site’s visibility, and enhance scratch leads
- Understanding data privacy policies is imperative to keeping your business out of legal trouble