The world governed by information technologies makes the life of an average human faster, comfortable, and more convenient than ever before. Thanks to the internet, we can create connections and share data with people all around the globe. When knowledge reaches a wider range of bright people around the world, everyone can contribute to innovation, resulting in exponential growth.
Rapid transmission and accessibility of big data are some of the key factors that help us progress faster than ever before. Everyone has the tools for sufficient education and contribution to modern society. While some may not like it, it also creates a higher level of competition between individuals and in business environments. Open access to public resources helps the most talented people spearhead the rapid progress we experience today.
In a digital business environment, data has become the most valuable we can obtain, but it also creates new challenges for interested parties. The necessity of information has transcended our personal needs. Today, smart devices and the progress of Artificial Intelligence (AI) rely on the constant consumption of data.
If you want to maximize your business tasks and strategies or contribute to technological improvement, data is your best friend. The problem is, our natural ways of obtaining and storing information are no longer sufficient. To efficiently extract and use public data on the internet, we need web scraping – the initial step of data aggregation.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of web scraping robots and their range of influence from enhancing your personal tasks to contributing to the growth and success of modern businesses. We will also gloss over data parsing – a resource-intensive process that helps us organize extracted code from web pages into an understandable and usable format. To get an in-depth analysis of data parsing – we recommend looking up Smartproxy – a great proxy provider with many blogs about data extraction on their website. But for now, let’s discuss the basics of web scraping, how you can learn to collect public data, and its applicability for business.
How can you learn web scraping?
While you can find plenty of educational material about the process on the internet, there’s no better way to learn about data extraction than to experience it for yourself. With little programming knowledge, you can not only collect a large amount of information from websites but also set up filters to only extract the data that you need. When you need to continuously aggregate large amounts of information for the enhancement of personal goals or business tasks, web scraping bots are your best friends!
To have a head start on your journey of becoming a self-taught data analyst, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the basics of Python programming. Because it is the most popular coding language in the world, you will have no trouble finding the most convenient material that will optimize your learning experience. With easy-to-use libraries and open source packages, you will be surprised by the simplicity of the process.
Don’t forget about data parsing!
While web scraping might look attractive with its potential for scalability and automation, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – data parsing. Once we extract documents of code with automated robots, parsers help us prepare raw information and turn it into knowledge.
Working with data parsing packages like Beautifulsoup will help you pick up your parsing skills, but don’t get tricked – the process is no walk in the park when we start working with big scale scraping operations in a business environment.
If you have multiple websites that possess valuable public data, their differences in structure, layouts, and web development tools can stop parsing in its tracks. The process requires a lot of involvement from junior programmers to tweak parsers and make them applicable for unusual websites. To make things worse, any web page updates can also disrupt fluent extraction of data.
In short, no parser fits all websites. While it may not be difficult to apply changes to revive data collection, it is a monotonous process when you target multiple pages that may require constant adjustments or even maintaining numerous parsers to stabilize information extraction.
Why do we need web scraping?
Because information can improve the efficiency and accuracy of so many activities, you can even apply your acquired data analysis skills for personal projects involving your hobbies or freelancing tasks. Experienced programmers that enjoy web scraping accept requests to perform data collection tasks for interested businesses and other third parties.
Depending on a business model, every company can benefit from web scraping in one way or the other. Even successful traditional businesses can benefit from modernisation in effective lead generation, digital marketing improvement, and refining online shops.
The demand for public data is so big that we can observe the emergence of businesses that solely focus on data aggregation. Some assist other product and service providers by creating a hub for clients to discover optimal deals in the most comfortable manner. From travel tickets to real estate, experienced scrapers can assist everyone!
Web scraping is a great skill anyone can learn from the comfort of their own home. Many programmers today pursue a career in data analytics. If you believe it is a career that might interest you, learn about web scraping and start building experience. In the worst case, you will be able to apply scraping robots to enhance your personal tasks!