“The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.”
~ Joseph Heller, Catch-22
This survival instinct is what brought around the need for a web scraping process. Businesses, in this age of technology and severe competition, are finding ways and means to survive.
In this data driven world, you need to be constantly vigilant, as information and key data for an organization keeps changing all the while. If you get the right data at the right time in an efficient manner, you can stay ahead of competition. Isn’t that what you want to do all the while; come up with a new product or all new service for the consumers, which has not yet been introduced to the world? For the first mover instinct to be true, it is important that you have relevant and accurate information.
How can you get the right information?
By incorporating intelligent web scrapping techniques that can add to the functionality and efficiency of your business processes!
Before moving on to understand how web scraping is done, let’s understand why it is important for the proper functioning of a business.
Why Intelligent Web Scraping?
Are you aware of the changes in data occurring in the different competitor websites on a periodic basis? Are you able to retrieve complex and complicated data that is necessary for your business from these websites? Web scraping can deliver you information on time in an accurate manner. Any changes occurring in the business world is mapped in a precise fashion.
Real-Time Data Monitoring
A large organization will need to keep itself updated with the information changes occurring in multitudes of websites. An intelligent web scraper will find new websites from which it needs to scrap the data. Intelligent approaches identify the changed data, extract it without extracting the unnecessary links present within and navigate between websites to monitor and extract information on a real time basis efficiently and effectively. You can easily monitor several websites simultaneously while keeping up with the frequency in updates.
Alerts on Web Data Changes
You will observe, as has been mentioned earlier, that data across the websites constantly changes. How will know if a key change has been made by an organization? Let’s say there has been a personnel change in the organization, how will you find out about that? That’s where the alerts feature in web scraping comes to play. The intelligent web scraping techniques will alert you on the data changes that have occurred on a particular website, thus helping you keep an eye on opportunities and issues.
Recently, we scraped the data for Airbnb, which is one of the biggest virtual marketplaces, that offers listings for accommodations across the globe. When you are talking about virtual marketplaces, the one thing that defines them is change. You will find that the data on these websites is constantly changing, and the platform, in general, holds a huge chunk of data.
Planning is very critical to handle such websites.
Here are some tips that will help you cache into the web scraping technique. We used them while Airbnb data scraping, and we found that it paid off.
- Estimate the approximate data (quantify if possible) that you will need to scrap from the website. You should have an idea about the maximum data that the site holds
- Generate queries with the exact search terms that would get you the data you want from these websites. For example “accommodations” “villas” etc. would be appropriate search terms for Airbnb, and we used these terms when generating the queries. You need to understand how Get and Post Http requests work
- As mentioned, change is the only constant thing in case of data on websites. You will need to keep room for these changes in the coding. Create special algorithm that accounts for these changes
- Many websites use anti-scraping measures. When scraping data on such websites, it is important to expect the firewalls and pitfall in these websites
- When scraping data from the website, you will need a database to store this huge chunk of data. With a database, you can easily refer to the data at a later stage
- You should ideally adopt techniques that will help you stay undetected by the aggregator websites. The two most popular techniques involve- IP proxying and imitating human behavior with the help of ideal tools
The API Technique
Scraping and collecting data using the API technique is pretty common, especially when working with large websites that own crucial data. With APIs, an open architecture has been created for sharing data and content between communities, as well as applications. Intelligent and dynamic sharing of data has been made possible through APIs. With an API structure, websites can communicate and collaborate with one another. An API is a set of HTTP requests combined with definitions of structure response messages such as XML and JSON. The incoming HTTP request from different web sites to access data is responded with a JSON or XML output. This method seems to be an easier way to send and receive queries which will help tap into the right data in an efficient and accurate manner.
Businesses are responding to data in an effective manner. It is data that helps them understand key gaps within their businesses, and how they can close them with relevant products and services.
Web scraping is an essential way of getting your hands on the right data at the right time. This data is crucial for many organizations, and scraping technique will help them keep an eye on the data and get the information that will benefit them further.
Airbnb, for example, offers a wide range of listings that keeps changing all the while such as AirBnB’s listing data: the location data, type of listing (whether room, or entire place), price per night, and lastly the calendar of the location. The objective would be to search for occupancy rates for specific parameters.
In this world driven by survival, it is important to know more about the others to find ways to survive. Let us know for web scraping, we are experts.