Companies are aware that web scraping is a technique for targeted, automated extraction of information from websites. But these days, scraping has evolved from simple acquiring data to archiving data collected and keeping a track of changes. It is witnessing more gravity. Businesses or enterprises have moved ahead of mere cost and time involved with any activity. They need web scraping solutions that can access dynamic content, does not break when websites change and can even filter unwanted information.
Solutions that regularly scrub publicly available pages of their competitors, scour item names and prices to further use that information to adjust prices. It includes scraping contact information such as email addresses, telephone numbers, and various other demographic data points, tracking trends, collecting online article comments, text mining and collecting archives of reports from thousands of web pages.
Today it is managed successfully by web scraping service providers. Their solutions interact with and pull data from disparate websites and portals and deliver it in near real-time, further constantly updating and integrating it with systems and decision-making processes. They provide timely, accurate and complete web data to numerous companies to grow their market share, transform their industry, and defend their brand and much more.
Till now we discussed whether a company should go ahead to use a web scraping tool or, they should outsource web scraping services to third party service providers with domain expertise, deep industry knowledge & scalable operations.
Let’s go a step further and check out some of the Plus and Pains for each of the options.
Web scraping tools: Plus & Pains
1. Easy to use features
This is one of the most real benefits of a web scraping tool, though it needs extensive time and efforts to be put in to learn the platform. One can go ahead to sign in to the best web scraping tools available online to collect the data required, may it be contact information, description and prices of products that one is looking out to purchase, and much more.
2. Tools for free
A few of the web scraping tools are generous enough to offer some of the above mentioned easy to use features for free. But most of them come with trial periods, not sufficient enough to allow you to ensure that the functions meet your personal as well as business goals.
3. Effective but deceptive
Upon using screen scraping aka web scraping tool, based on the tool features and tariff plans, data scraping from hundreds of languages, collecting real-time data, accessing anonymous data, download data instantly, and archiving it in disparate formats such as XML, JSON and RSS etc., means having a lot more on the platter than one can eat. Are you equipped with the kind of expertise required to handle/manage this kind of humongous data? Think about it seriously.
4. Altered code or layout of web pages
Also, they show more and deliver less. Most of the tools can retrieve approx. 80% of the data you are looking for, but that last 20% is not collected or scraped as it needs the expertise of professional web scraping services. Whichever web scraping tool you put at task, if the code or layout of a webpage is altered, one way or the other, has the impact on your web scraping activity and results derived. This last 20% is the most valuable for your process.
5. Web-scraping; legal or illegal
It is still a dilemma whether web scraping is legal or illegal. Also, if you don’t have the time and resources to figure out how to crack CAPTCHA, then you should go ahead to hire web scraping services to do it for you. Thousands of websites have privacy policies against web harvesting, which means all your web-crawling efforts may go in vain.
Outsourced Web Scraping: Pains & Plusses
1. Data extraction is time-efficient
With all the free to use and advanced one-click features, if still, one finds data extraction process to be cumbersome; hire a web scraping service provider to assign the task. It is obvious and proven time and again that data extraction done by a professional solution provider is time-efficient. Companies and enterprises have been a witness to web scraping services completing an equivalent monthly task of a human being in a mere couple of hours.
2. Delivering collected data in variety of formats
The speed and accuracy of data collected by service providers are very near to that of data collected through web scraping tools. Additionally, most of the data collection vendors are equipped to deliver data in a variety of ways such as CSV, JSON or via an API. All that a company needs to do is to opt for a provider that delivers the data in a format, you are comfortable working with.
3. Modified scrapers are more effective
One more reason why a company should not withhold themselves from paying outsourced web scraping service providers is that websites tend to change their codes and layouts frequently, and these vendors are competent enough to track it and modify their data collection process and scraper to ensure that the quality of data does not get affected.
4. Credentials of web-scraping company
Check out if do they specialize in data mining, data collection and data research for analysis from diverse industry domains?
Checking the credentials of the web scraping company to hire is the first step towards success. Hire a company, that delivers web research and web scraping solutions for data collections. Their professionals on board should be well versed with the process of delivering discrete information scattered across domains that meet your business requirements. Their customized web research solutions should enable you to derive information required for informed decision making. Do a bit of research, communicate directly with the scraping company, and read customer testimonials, to assess the health of the scraping service provider.
Options, outsourcing web scraping services or using web scraping tools; come with their pains and plusses. The idea of data collection by leveraging data extraction tools for free might be a lucrative idea, does not come with the surety of accessing websites that use anti-scraping mechanisms. Web scraping solution providers, do charge money, but also save you considerable time, especially then when data collection is not your core expertise.