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What is a web scraping?

Web scraping, web harvesting, or web data extraction is data scraping used for extracting data from websites. Web scraping software may access the World Wide Web directly using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or through a web browser. While web scraping can be done manually by a software user, the term typically refers to automated processes implemented using a bot or web crawler. It is a form of copying, in which specific data is gathered and copied from the web, typically into a central local database or spreadsheet, for later retrieval or analysis.

Web scraping a web page involves fetching it and extracting from it. Fetching is the downloading of a page (which a browser does when you view the page). Therefore, web crawling is a main component of web scraping, to fetch pages for later processing. Once fetched, then extraction can take place. The content of a page may be parsed, searched, reformatted, its data copied into a spreadsheet, and so on. Web scrapers typically take something out of a page, to make use of it for another purpose somewhere else. An example would be to find and copy names and phone numbers, or companies and their URLs, to a list (contact scraping).

 

What you can do with data scraping?

Web scraping is used for content scraping, and as a component of applications used for web indexing, web mining and data mining, online price change monitoring and price comparison, product review scraping (to watch the competition), gathering real estate listings, weather data monitoring, website change detection, research, tracking online presence and reputation, web mashup and, web data integration.

Using data scraping you can build sitemaps that will navigate the site and extract the data. Using different type selectors you will navigate the site and extract multiple types of data - text, tables, images, links and more.

 

What role scraper should play for you?

Web scraping is the process of automatically mining data or collecting information from the World Wide Web. It is a field with active developments sharing a common goal with the semantic web vision, an ambitious initiative that still requires breakthroughs in text processing, semantic understanding, artificial intelligence and human-computer interactions. Current web scraping solutions range from the ad-hoc, requiring human effort, to fully automated systems that are able to convert entire web sites into structured information, with limitations.

 

Below are the ways for scraping data:

  • Human Copy Paste : Sometimes even the best web-scraping technology cannot replace a human’s manual examination and copy-and-paste, and sometimes this may be the only workable solution when the websites for scraping explicitly set up barriers to prevent machine automation.
  • Text Pattern Matching : A simple yet powerful approach to extract information from web pages can be based on the UNIX grep command or regular expression-matching facilities of programming languages
  • HTTP programming : Static and dynamic web pages can be retrieved by posting HTTP requests to the remote web server using socket programming.
  • HTML parsing : Many websites have large collections of pages generated dynamically from an underlying structured source like a database. Data of the same category are typically encoded into similar pages by a common script or template. In data mining, a program that detects such templates in a particular information source, extracts its content and translates it into a relational form, is called a wrapper. Wrapper generation algorithms assume that input pages of a wrapper induction system conform to a common template and that they can be easily identified in terms of a URL common scheme.Moreover, some semi-structured data query languages, such as Xquery and the HTQL, can be used to parse HTML pages and to retrieve and transform page content.
  • DOM parsing: By embedding a full-fledged web browser, such as the Internet Explorer or the Mozilla browser control, programs can retrieve the dynamic content generated by client-side scripts. These browser controls also parse web pages into a DOM tree, based on which programs can retrieve parts of the pages.
  • Vertical aggregation : There are several companies that have developed vertical specific harvesting platforms. These platforms create and monitor a multitude of “bots” for specific verticals with no "man in the loop" (no direct human involvement), and no work related to a specific target site. The preparation involves establishing the knowledge base for the entire vertical and then the platform creates the bots automatically. The platform's robustness is measured by the quality of the information it retrieves (usually number of fields) and its scalability (how quick it can scale up to hundreds or thousands of sites). This scalability is mostly used to target the Long Tail of sites that common aggregators find complicated or too labor-intensive to harvest content from.
  • Semantic annotation recognizing : The pages being scraped may embrace metadata or semantic markups and annotations, which can be used to locate specific data snippets. If the annotations are embedded in the pages, as Microformat does, this technique can be viewed as a special case of DOM parsing. In another case, the annotations, organized into a semantic layer,are stored and managed separately from the web pages, so the scrapers can retrieve data schema and instructions from this layer before scraping the pages.
  • Computer vision web-page analysis : There are efforts using machine learning and computer vision that attempt to identify and extract information from web pages by interpreting pages visually as a human being would.

 

Key Features of Web Scraping

In order to remain competitive, businesses must be able to act quickly and assuredly in the markets. Web Scraping plays a big role in the development of various business organizations that use the services. 

The benefits of these services are: 

  1. Low Cost: Web Scraping service saves hundreds of thousands of man-hours and money as the use of scraping service completely avoids manual work.
  2. Less Time: Scraping solution not only helps to lower the cost, it also reduces the time involved in data extraction task. This tool ensures and gathers fast results required by people.
  3. Accurate Results: Web Scraping solutions help to get the most accurate and fast results that cannot be collected by human beings. It generates correct product pricing data, sales leads, duplication of online database, captures real estate data, financial data, job postings, auction information and many more.
  4. Time to Market Advantage: Fast and accurate results help businesses to save time, money and labor and get an obvious time-tomarket advantage over the competitors.
  5. High Quality: A Web Scraping solution provides access to clean, structured and high quality data through scraping APIs so that the fresh data can be integrated into the systems.

Finding and hiring expert scraper/crawler

It’s important to note that not all scraper will be ideal fits for every project. For example, those with highly analytical backgrounds in software engineering would be ideal for developing algorithms but may not be the right fit for a data scraping project. That’s why it’s so important to understand what type of scraping expert will bring the most benefit to your company and business goals.

Here are some questions to consider:

What is the overall learning you hope to find? 

By including your goal in the project description, it allows professionals to better understand what type of work is required.

 

What core skills will scraping experts need to complete the project? 

The answer will revolve around your current data infrastructure and the processes used to extract information.

 

Would you benefit from someone with highly specialized skills in a few areas of data scraping, or would a well-rounded expert serve you better?

 

Are there any time constraints to consider with this project?

Let professionals know the amount of hours of work that might be involved.

 

What kind of budget will this project have? 

The more experience and expertise a data scraper has, the higher they expect to be compensated. Higher budgets will more likely give top-tier experts a reason to submit a proposal.

 

Web scraping project template

Below is a sample of how a project description may look. Keep in mind that many people use the term “job description,” but a full job description is only needed for employees. When engaging a freelancer as an independent contractor, you typically just need a statement of work, job post, or any other document that describes the work to be done.

<Job/Project Title>

ABC Company is looking for a web scraping expert to help us study our website traffic patterns and find areas of improvement. This project is estimated to require approximately 20-25 hours per week for the next few months to achieve the following goals

  • Reporting findings in a weekly summary
  • Split testing underperforming pages and recording results
  • Discovering which pages currently perform best
  • Organizing site data into spreadsheets

The following skills are required:

The ideal freelancer will be a creative problem solver with an excellent work history on Toogit. To submit a proposal, please send a short summary of similar projects you’ve completed and why we should consider you for this project.

  • Excellent technical abilities
  • Knowledge of quantitative split testing
  • Experience with WordPress and Google Analytics
  • A thorough understanding of MySQL databases
  • Expertise or extensive experience with Python

 

Hiring the right Web Scraping talent

Remember that technical ability is only a small portion of what makes an excellent web scraper. Great web scrapers are inquisitive—they want to ensure that they’re seeking the right types of answers, plus they’ll take an interest in your business to better understand it. The ideal professional will also be able to advise you on additional metrics to analyze and compare in order to help you meet your goals.

Also, keep in mind that communication is always a key consideration in the data science field. A brief interview can allow you to gauge how strong each professional is in expressing ideas and explaining their process. The more you speak to each professional by phone, email, or chat, the better you’ll be able to gauge their professionalism and communication skills and determine whether they’re right for your project.

The importance of extracting information from the web is becoming increasingly loud and clear. Every few weeks, I realize myself in a situation where we need to extract information from the web to create a machine learning model. We have to pull or extract a large amount of information from websites and we would like to do it as quickly as possible. How would we do it without manually going to every web site and getting the data? Web Scraping simply makes this job easier and faster.

Why is web scraping needed?

Web scraping is used to collect large information from websites. But why does someone have to collect such large data from websites? Let’s look at the applications of web scraping: 

  1. Price Comparison: Services such as ParseHub use web scraping to collect data from online shopping websites and use it to compare the prices of products.
  2. Social Media Scraping: Web scraping is used to collect data from Social Media websites such as Twitter to find out what’s trending.
  3. Email address gathering: Many companies that use email as a medium for marketing, use web scraping to collect email ID and then send bulk emails.
  4. Research and Development: Web scraping is used to collect a large set of data (Statistics, General Information, Temperature, etc.) from websites, which are analyzed and used to carry out Surveys or for R&D.
  5. Job listings: Details regarding job openings, interviews are collected from different websites and then listed in one place so that it is easily accessible to the user.

 

Web scraping is an automated method used to extract large amounts of data from websites. The data on the websites are unstructured. Web scraping helps collect these unstructured data and store it in a structured form. There are different ways to scrape websites such as online Services, APIs or writing your own code.

Why Python is best for Web Scraping

Features of Python which makes it more suitable for web scraping:

  1. Ease of Use: Python is simple to code. You do not have to add semi-colons “;” or curly-braces “{}” anywhere. This makes it less messy and easy to use.
  2. Large Collection of Libraries: Python has a huge collection of libraries such as Numpy, Matlplotlib, Pandas etc., which provides methods and services for various purposes. Hence, it is suitable for web scraping and for further manipulation of extracted data.
  3. Dynamically typed: In Python, you don’t have to define datatypes for variables, you can directly use the variables wherever required. This saves time and makes your job faster.
  4. Easily Understandable Syntax: Python syntax is easily understandable mainly because reading a Python code is very similar to reading a statement in English. It is expressive and easily readable, and the indentation used in Python also helps the user to differentiate between different scope/blocks in the code.
  5. Small code, large task: Web scraping is used to save time. But what’s the use if you spend more time writing the code? Well, you don’t have to. In Python, you can write small codes to do large tasks. Hence, you save time even while writing the code.
  6. Community: What if you get stuck while writing the code? You don’t have to worry. Python community has one of the biggest and most active communities, where you can seek help from.

How does web scraping work

To extract data using web scraping with python, you need to follow these basic steps:

  1. Find the URL that you want to scrape
  2. Inspecting the Page
  3. Find the data you want to extract
  4. Write the code
  5. Run the code and extract the data
  6. Store the data in the required format

Example: Scraping a website to get product details

Pre-requisite:

  • Python 2.x or Python 3.x
  • Selenium Library
  • BeautifulSoup Library
  • Pandas Library
  1. We are going scrape online shopping website to extract the Price, Name, and rating of products, go to products URL
  2. The data is usually nested in tags. So, we inspect the page to examine, under which tag the information we would like to scrape is nested. To inspect the page, just right click on the element and click on “Inspect”. When you click on the “Inspect” tab, you will see a “Browser Inspector Box” open.
  3. Let’s extract the Price, Name, and Rating which is nested in the “div” tag respectively.
  4. Write code:

#Let us import all the necessary libraries

from selenium import webdriver

from BeautifulSoup import BeautifulSoup

import pandas as pd

driver = webdriver.Chrome("/usr/lib/chromium-browser/chromedriver")

products=[] #List to store name of the product

prices=[] #List to store price of the product

ratings=[] #List to store rating of the product

driver.get("Product_URL")

content = driver.page_source

soup = BeautifulSoup(content)

for a in soup.findAll('a',href=True, attrs={'class':'.…'}):

name=a.find('div', attrs={'class': '….'})

price=a.find('div', attrs={'class':'….'})

rating=a.find('div', attrs={'class':'….'})

products.append(name.text)

ratings.append(rating.text)

df = pd.DataFrame({'Product Name':products,'Price':prices,'Rating':ratings})

df.to_csv('products.csv', index=False, encoding='utf-8')

 

To run the code, a file name “products.csv” is created and this file contains the extracted data.

In every era, marketing has evolved based on what the customer is using. If you go back in history, you can see that at times when customers used Radio, it gave birth to radio advertising and marketing. Next, we got the boom of televisions, it is one of the widely used device globally, which allowed the companies to reach a mass audience with TV ads. Even today TV advertising is one of the most used advertising strategies for companies. Since the boom of the Internet, more customers started using the Internet, which gave birth to a new era of marketing originally called Internet marketing, which is now called Digital Marketing.

 

Now a days, we frequently hear the term Digital marketing we all think that we reasonably understand what actually it is. This thinking sometimes limits the scope and opportunity that the complete Digital marketing landscape will actually offer, which is why, when it involves nailing it down, we either turn dumbfounded or get stuck. To come out of such scenarios, it is important to know different types of Digital marketing opportunities that are available to your business. According to Salesforce, 75th of Total marketing Budget will head to Digital marketing.

 

Digital marketing depends upon the kinds of audience interactions. It revolves around managing and harnessing of various types of Digital marketing Channels and many varieties of Digital marketing services.

 

Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels like search engines, social media, email, and their websites to connect with current and prospective customers.

Why companies use digital marketing?

  1. Internet Users: As per the internet usage stats, 40% of the world population is using the internet.
  2. Mobile Phones: Most of the users globally today use mobile phones for communication. As per a report 4.77 billion mobiles phone users globally, which will increase to 5.07 billion by 2019.
  3. Targeting the Audience: In traditional marketing strategies, it is very difficult to advertise to the target audience with specific demographics & details. Today with digital marketing we have so many customised & personalised methods to target the audience exclusively.
  4. Low Cost and High ROI: Most of the small and medium scale companies rely mostly on digital marketing strategies due to its low cost and high return on investment.

Digital Marketing Types

  1. Search Engine Optimisation: SEO is the process of optimising your website to "rank" higher in search engine results pages, thereby increasing the amount of organic (or free) traffic your website receives. The channels that benefit from SEO include Website, Blogs or Info-graphics.
  2. Content Marketing: CM denotes the creation and promotion of content assets for the purpose of generating brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation, and customers. The channels that can play a part in your content marketing strategy include Blogs posts, Ebooks and whitepaper, info-graphics, online brochures and look-books.
  3. Social Media Marketing: SMM promotes your brand and your content on social media channels to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads for your business. The channels you can use in social media marketing include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, linked In, Snap-chat, or google+.
  4. Pay-Per-Click: PPC is a method of driving traffic to your website by paying a publisher every time your ad is clicked. One of the most common types of PPC is Google AdWords, which allows you to pay for top slots on Google's search engine results pages at a price "per click" of the links you place. Other channels where you can use PPC include Paid ads on Facebook, Promoted Tweets on Twitter.
  5. Email Marketing: Companies use email marketing as a way of communicating with their audiences. Email is often used to promote content, discounts and events, as well as to direct people toward the business's website.

Digital Marketing Strategies

Here is a list of five simple digital marketing strategies that any business owner can implement to help their business grow:

  1. Setting a goal: Digital marketing is a great way for small businesses to prosper, but going into the method blindly can leave you with a jumbled mess. A lot of strategy and precision goes into digital marketing and having a goal helps you recognise what to focus on.
  2. Creating a Marketing Funnel: The most successful businesses have a good marketing funnel in place. A marketing funnel is when you map out a customer’s journey from when a customer is a complete stranger to once they become a lead, then put certain methods in place that may encourage them to move through this funnel. Things like lead magnets, calls to action, opt-ins and offers are all effective pieces of a funnel. You’ll consider a marketing funnel in four parts: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.
  3. Developing a call-to-action: A call-to-action (CTA) is a picture or text that prompts visitors to take action, like subscribe to a newsletter, read a webinar or request a product demo. CTAs should direct people to landing pages, wherever you'll collect visitors’ contact info in exchange for a valuable marketing offer. In that sense, an effective CTA results in more leads and conversions for your web site. This path, from a click on a CTA to a landing page, illustrates a lot of desired process of lead generation.
  4. Creating an Effective Lead magnet: The idea behind a lead magnet is to trade information. You supply something like a free download of a white paper, but in order to complete the download the individual has to fill out a form that will provide you with more information about them. You’ll use the information you gather to interact with them more as they progress through your funnel.
  5. Driving Traffic: There a variety of ways you can drive traffic to your website.
  • Quality Content: Use content like blog posts, press releases and articles on authority websites. Insert links to various places on your web site inside this content to create your brand name through exposure and drive traffic to your website.
  • Keyword Strategy: Inserting related keywords into content will help your content and website show up in more search results, this leads to higher volumes of web traffic.
  • Website Optimisation: Ensuring that your website is optimised and functioning at its best is essential. People don’t want to visit a website that doesn’t work properly.
  • Social Media: Use engaging social media posts to attract more traffic to your site. Using pictures, video, and other relevant media will help your posts get more engagement.

 

We have many different specialisations so you will have different options to start your career.

  1. Digital marketing strategist
  2. Digital marketing executive
  3. SEO analyst
  4. Social media specialist
  5. Google AdWords specialist
  6. Email marketing specialist
  7. Web Analyst
  8. Online reputation manager

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