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What is Web Scraping or Data Scraping?
Scraping data (also called web scraping) is the process of extracting information from websites in an automated way. Data scraping focuses on transforming the unstructured content of a website (usually HTML) into structured data which can be stored in a database or spreadsheet.
The way in which the data is extracted from a website is similar to that used by the search bots – human web browsing is simulated using programs (bots) which extract (scrape) the data from a website.
What is Web Scraping for?
Its use is very clear: we can take advantage of data scraping to get industrial quantities of information (Big data) without typing a single word. Through the search algorithms we can track hundreds of websites to extract only the information we need.
To do this, it will be very useful for us to master regex (regular expression) to delimit searches or make them more precise and to filter information better.
Some examples for which we may need web scraping:
- Content marketing: We can design a robot that makes a scraping of specific data from a website and we can use it to generate our own content. Example: Scrape statistical data from the official website of a basketball league to generate our own database.
- Gain visibility in social networks: We can use the data to interact through a robot with users in social networks. Example: Create a bot in Instagram that selects the links of each photo and then automatically post a comment in each entry.
- Control the image and visibility of your brand on the Internet: Through data scraping we can track how Google is positioning several articles of our website, or control the presence of our brand name in certain forums. Example: Track the position in Google of all the entries in our blog.
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What tool can I use for Web Scraping?
Import.io. We recommend Import.io. It is an easy tool to use and that implies that you should not have specific programming knowledge to start experimenting with it. It can be used from the control panel of the web for basic scraps, although for more complex operations it is necessary to download the program. It can be used by all types of users that are familiar with the basic concepts of the web world and with data visualization tools such as Excel and Google Spreadsheets.
How should I use the obtained data?
Obviously this data will have to be used for some purpose. This is where two key processes come into play once the data is obtained:
- Nesting, ordering and filtering of data. Many times when we extract industrial quantities of data, before importing them to another platform we will have to ‘work’ these data with precision, in order to get them ready to be imported.
- Data import to another platform. Data import is another basic process. If you are a WordPress business, there are highly recommended tools like WP Ultimate CSV Importer plugin (Ultimate CSV Importer Pro for paid version).