Web scraping has existed for at least the last decade, and many companies have grown from using the process in various ways, with more still using it today.
For instance, about 38.2% of global brands use web scraping to gather ideas, while about 25.9% use it to perform market research and understand consumer sentiments.
But these percentages are low when we consider how truly beneficial web scraping is. Perhaps, the reason for this is because of the challenges that are commonly associated with web data collection.
In this article, we will consider the main challenges of web scraping and provide you with three tips to help you overcome these issues.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping can be defined as gathering large data from different platforms online.
It includes using tools and machines that automatically gather data in real-time. This is important to eliminate the stress of data extraction while ensuring accuracy and data relevance.
Web scraping provides the data necessary for many important business operations, such as the following:
- Market Research
Market research involves everything from studying market trends and patterns to understanding consumer sentiments and behavior.
Businesses that perform market research and analysis often have the extra advantage of tailoring production to align with what the market is pointing to, reducing errors and maximizing profits.
- Brand Protection
The world has become so digitized that it is easier today to have your brand reputation harmed online.
This happens when customers drop unwholesome feedback and comment about the brand.
Potential buyers can see these and decide against patronizing the brand. Web scraping is often used to stay on top of the situation by regularly collecting data and analyzing for any potential damages.
This way, any negative comment can be immediately addressed before it gets the chance to spread.
- Competition Monitoring
Sometimes, monitoring the competition may be all it takes for a brand to find the next big idea to dominate the market.
Competition monitoring is also important to detect when your rivals are breaching the Minimum Advertised Price agreement and selling beyond the set price to gain an undue advantage.
- Business Intelligence
For businesses to make smart decisions, they often need to have access to a large supply of useful market data frequently.
This can create sure and solid strategies and plans to make the business more prosperous.
This innovation is also known as business intelligence and comes only when you collect large quantities of market data.
What Are The Main Challenges of Web Scraping?
There are several challenges to web scraping, but the following seem to be the most obvious and common reasons why many businesses shy away from gathering data:
- Frequent Changes in Structure of Websites
The structures of websites are always changing and evolving to keep up with the latest advancements in technology.
This is necessary and shows improvement for the websites, but it also constitutes one of the biggest challenges of web scraping.
Since web scraping works using tools such as scrapers, crawlers and parsers, it can only be successful if the tools can easily navigate the target data sources without crashing due to new updates.
Some tools only work for certain website structures and will crash immediately if they encounter newer and better structures.
- The Large Size of the Operation
Web scraping is a large-scale operation involving collecting data from millions of web pages.
Also, the process needs to be fast to ensure that a large amount of data is collected in real-time to remain relevant.
Collecting this much data is hard enough, and doing that as quickly as possible adds to the challenges that drive people away from data collection.
- Restrictions and Limitations
The data that companies harvest is often publicly available, but this does not mean the platforms will give it away easily.
Websites and servers often use different measures to prevent web scraping. Some involve using simple techniques such as CAPTCHA tests that prevent bot action, while others are as extreme as stopping a user based on their physical location.
None of the above is favorable as they can effectively stop data extraction in the tracks.
3 Tips to Help Overcome the Challenges of Web Scraping
Fortunately, there are several solutions to the above challenges. Below are three crucial tips that can help you easily beat the issues described above:
- Updating the Data Parser
Parsers are specialized tools that work to convert raw data to structured forms and then return the data to local storage to be saved.
You will need to regularly update and upgrade this tool to ensure it does not crash once the website changes its core structures.
- Using APIs
Application Programme Interface is used to connect with major data sources and collect their data.
The most attractive aspect here is that APIs work automatically. All that is required is to gain access to the platform or system, and you can download enormous amounts of data automatically without breaking a sweat.
- Using Private Proxies
Private proxies are efficient tools that mitigate most of the challenges one might face during web scraping.
Private proxy servers can supply unlimited IPs and locations to avoid blocking and other limitations.
You can use a private proxy to easily outsmart a CAPTCHA test and switch your location to avoid geo-restrictions.
Private proxies are also known for increasing scraping speed, making the process more rewarding.
To learn more about private proxies, go to blog article.
Data is always important, which makes processes such as web scraping almost irreplaceable.
The process is often challenging to say the least, but with the tips described above, you can easily beat the challenges and collect the datasets your business needs.