Crawling the Web 101
The benefits of web scraping are enormous. In fact, most of the popular companies out there wouldn’t exist without having a web crawling tool that is successfully incorporated into their day-to-day operations.
However, data crawling for business isn’t possible without the right proxy. Using a proxy server allows you to scrape a site more reliably. It significantly reduces the chances of your spider-bot getting blocked or banned.
Why Use Proxy Servers for Web Crawling?
While there are several different kinds of proxies out there like residential and datacenter proxies, the essence of a proxy server is that it’s an additional server between the user and the Internet.
For example, when you send an HTTP request to “www.wikipedia.org” using a proxy, instead of going directly to the website, your request passes through that proxy server, and only after that, it travels to the target website. This means the proxy is mimicking human behavior by making web requests on your behalf. Once the required response is received, it gets passed on to you.
Now, the key benefits of using proxy servers for web scraping are:
- They can hide your crawling machine’s IP address
- You can bypass the rate limits on your target site
Of course, you’ll need a robust web scraping tool to crawl a website successfully, but incorporating a good proxy with your crawler will ensure better results. If you don’t want to get blocked by web servers while crawling data anonymously, consider using proxies to access the Internet during your scraping sessions.
What Are Some Good Web Scraping Tools?
There are many web crawling/scraping tools out there. Some of them offer free services while others have premium plans. Make sure to check the details before you get one for your needs. That said, here are some scraping tools to consider:
- VisualScraper—an excellent crawler and extraction software. You can use it to collect information from the Internet. It lets you extract data from different webpages and fetches all results in real-time. On top of that, you can export in different formats like XML, CSV, SQL, and JSON.
- 80legs—a robust yet easy-to-use crawler that can be modified as per your requirement. It allows fetching large amounts of data with the ability to download your extracted data right away. The web crawler claims to scrape 600K+ domains and is preferred by popular platforms like PayPal and MailChimp.
- io—a powerful crawler that lets you quickly scrape hundreds of webpages in minutes without having to write a single line of code. It boasts a builder that forms your datasets by importing data from the target website and exporting it to CSV.
- Real-Time Crawler by Oxylabs—is a data collection tool built specifically for data extraction from search engines and e-commerce websites, also known as real-time web scraping solution. With this real-time crawler and scraper, you can effortlessly capture already parsed web data even from the most challenging data targets with a guaranteed 100% success rate. For more details on Real-Time Crawler, follow the link.
Why Should Your Business Use Web Crawling?
There are several business applications where web scraping can be beneficial. Here are five reasons why all businesses should utilize web crawling in 2019.
#1: Monitoring Social Media and the News
A web crawler allows you to monitor social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), news websites, and various industry forums to get information regarding what’s being said about your business and competition.
This sort of information helps you understand your customers and their perceptions more deeply, as well as how you’re comparing against your competitors.
#2: Lead Generation
Let’s take businesses that specialize in job placement and staffing, for instance. When they know a company is hiring, it allows them to reach out to that business and help it fill those positions. They might want to scrape the websites of target accounts, job groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, or forums on websites like Quora to find new job postings and/or details about companies that are looking for help with many business requirements.
Collecting those leads with the intention of returning them in a more useable format will help in lead generation.
#3: Posting Alerts
Think of a real estate agent who’s constantly scouring the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to find that suitable home for a client he’s serving. You can set up a web crawler to extract and send out new listings matching client requirements from various websites directly to their inbox once they’re posted to provide them with a leg up on the competition.
#4: Target Lists
You can set up a crawler to do entity extraction from sites.
For instance, let’s assume an automobile association wants to reach out to various car manufacturers and dealerships to promote industry events or services. Now, with a crawler, they can crawl target websites providing relevant business listings to pull information like contact names, addresses, and phone numbers. This content can then be provided in a single repository.
#5: Supplier Pricing
If you’re buying products from different suppliers, you’re likely heading back and forth between their websites to compare pricing, offerings, and availability. When you have the option to compare this information without having to visit one website to another, it saves your business tons of time and ensures you never miss out on the best available deals.
Web crawling is a must for most businesses. At the same time, you must also consider a reliable proxy provider to ensure your web scraping goes smoothly. These were some of the best examples of how web crawling tools can benefit your business.
The number of cases where web scraping tools can be implemented is endless. So, what are yours? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.