Understanding the Benefits of Web Scraping

The modern internet is built on a fast exchange of information. A person that has access to the web and its most powerful search engines can go through centuries worth of applicable knowledge. The endless storage of information keeps getting refilled with valuable data so we, the users, can indulge in accessible sources of educational material, entertainment and e-commerce.

Quick transmission of information makes the ever-improving information technologies a great foundation for modern systems that make our lifestyle fast and efficient. Anyone can find and access movies, TV shows, and other forms of entertainment through streaming platforms and social media networks. Companies conduct business tasks, build online shops, and communicate with their client base on internet websites. In the abstract, the web is a colossal structure of data, ones, and zeros that are structured in a way that brings us many pleasures and conveniences of modern life.

It is hard to manage, find appropriate information and reap the benefits from an unimaginable amount of data. To scout and find valuable information, we use web scraping – an automated method of information extraction from chosen websites. Web scrapers extract an HTML code of a page which gets organized into an understandable format with web parsers.

In this article, we talk about automated ways to extract and manage valuable data. Web scraping has many applications, and anyone with little programming knowledge can learn to build a scraper to automate data aggregation. We will discuss web scraping Python frameworks, the extent of their applicability, and how working with them can assist you in your business tasks. Web scraping Python frameworks are very powerful and easily accessible tools that can do wonders in the hands of an experienced data scientist. If you want to learn more about the technical side of data aggregation and the best tools for the job, click here. For now, let’s take a look at the basics of web scraping and its benefits.

Basics of web scraping with Python

Right now, Python is the most popular programming language and the best tool to learn the basics of web scraping. Easily understandable syntax and fast applicability make it a great tool for beginner coders without programming experience.

You can target your first websites with tools in a standard Python library “urllib”, which offers tools to open and read targeted websites. However, with this tool, we only extract the HTML code from a page, which needs to be parsed to make it readable. We can install open-source external frameworks like BeautifulSoup to organize the desired information into an understandable format.

The web is full of collaborative projects that simplify and amplify the process of data extraction. With open-source frameworks like Scrapy, you can build your first web scrapers in a faster, more efficient way. Websites like Wikipedia are a great target to test its extensive features and polish your data extraction skillset.

Benefits of scraping

Once you build enough web scraping experience, you can take up freelancing and assist businesses in data aggregation tasks in lead generation and building dynamic data sets that assist company activity. Upwork is a great example of a website that offers freelance jobs for web scraping enthusiasts. Find a task that suits your skillset and start your freelancing career!

Bigger companies that need a constant stream of information for digital marketing, price intelligence, and other business-related tasks can choose to employ data scientists instead of outsourcing these assignments. Big retailers that run online shops are the main benefactors of data aggregation because they need to keep a watchful eye over their competitors to outfox them and offer the best deals for customers on the market.

The web is a great tool for consumers seeking travel tickets, bookings, and even real estate deals, but the amount of presented information can be overwhelming. To make our lives easier, the modern business environment offers services of aggregator businesses that partner with companies of a particular market and use web scraping to collect all the available deals. With a great team of data scientists behind them, aggregator websites scrape the web and present their visitors with an organized list of the best deals so the consumer does not have to stress and scan the web to find them and avoid unfavorable offers.

Web scraping challenges

Businesses that engage in web scraping face challenges that interrupt data extraction tasks. Aggregator bots are easily identified because they send more data requests than an average user. Target websites use this information to profile their IP address and ban the offender. Although collecting public data is not illegal, businesses employ these protections to protect the functionality of their web page and defend against competitors.

To counteract these limitations and protect their network identity, companies employ residential proxies to keep changing their IP with different addresses during data extraction tasks. With the help of legitimate proxy providers, businesses and private individuals can find the best intermediary servers to protect their web scrapers and continue extracting public data.

Today, web scraping is an immensely valuable skill. Tech-savvy individuals and computer science students should learn about web scraping and the benefits of data aggregation. You can use it for personal gain, benefit from data extraction for your business, work in or even start your own aggregator company. Make sure to learn web scraping and use proxy servers to get the full benefits of available information on the internet.


Opinions expressed by The Chicago Journal contributors are their own.

Daniel Ruiz

Daniel Ruiz is an Executive Journalist at The Chicago Journal. Daniel's decades of experience in the writing world has gained him exposure to various kinds of businesses. He has helped several entrepreneurs in the past to grow in their respective industries.

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