Do you know about “scraping” websites? It’s a process where bots can extract information and content from a website. Nowadays, web scraping is really essential to have a successful online business and keep up with the competition.
It’s simple if you do it right. You need to make goals, and plans, target the right sites, and so on. Furthermore, always try to do it legally; if you need help, you can hire a professional. Plus, there are also tools to help you with every step.
Let’s jump right in and discuss the most important things to consider before starting a web scraping project.
- Get Professional Help
You can scrape data yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. You can use free tools or a Python script to scrape data. You can get only a few pieces of information if you don’t know about it well.
But if you need to extract a large amount of data, you might want to hire a professional. They use web scraping API to have your required data legally and safely.
There are some businesses and people who know how to do web scraping well. They don’t put stress on the local servers and store data in the cloud so that you can get the data whenever you want.
- Set the Main Goals
Find your data scraping goals to get the relevant data that will lead to actionable insights and allow you to make the right decision(s).
You can do data scraping for various reasons. For example:
- Lead generation.
- Price monitoring.
- SEO optimization.
You need to have a clear idea of why you are doing data scraping. It will help you get the amount and quality of information you need from different websites. It’s one of the main things to consider before you start a web scraping project.
- Know the Robots.txt Instructions
One of the crucial factors is a text file in web scraping. It’s called the “robot exclusion standard.”
Intelligent bots receive instructions from the text file. So adhere to the rules contained in it before scraping a website.
- Learn Python and BeatifulSoup
You might need Python to write scripts if you want to scrape data by yourself. So you can use things like the BeautifulSoup library. You might be wondering, “What is BeautifulSoup?”
This is a Python library for reading data from HTML and XML files. It pulls out information hierarchically to make it easier to read.
There are different ways to use the library. You should know what they are and how they work to decide which is best for you. Plus, you’ll learn how to use HTML.
- Make Clean Text More Readable
Cleaning the text prepares the raw reader for natural language processing (NLP). It improves the text’s readability and helps computers grasp human language better.
You can obtain a more streamlined version of the dataset through Python. It enhances the readability of a text file and makes it simpler to understand.
- Determine the Best Data Storage
It is an important question: where will you store the information you gather? Data is valuable for a business, but only if used well.
One of the essential things to consider is data storage. After collecting data, you should store it safely. If you can not keep it well, the work will be useless.
You have to put it somewhere safe. You might need information anytime, so keep it where you can quickly retrieve it.
Building a plan for a big data store can be very helpful. So make a plan, keep the data safe, and develop a strategy before you start web scraping. If you don’t, you could lose important information and waste time.
That is why you should create a proper database. It would be easy then to see and analyze any required data.
- Choose and Collect the Tools
Data scraping is challenging. You need tools to be able to deal with those challenges. Make sure it can’t break your code. For example, you can use the SERP scraper to get the data to help you rank well on Google.
If not, it can crash while scraping thousands of pieces of information. Try to understand the basics efficiently.
You can use the sleep function to put a pause in your code. It will help you send a lot of requests to the server.
You can also learn SQL if you want to build your database to store data more professionally.
- Simple and Complex Pages
Will you be scraping the web for the first time? Then don’t target the most complicated pages to get information.
First, start with sites that are easy to use. You need to know how to scrape websites well.
As you work, try to learn more about it. After getting information from simple websites, you can move on to more complicated ones.
Using codes might mean you need to pay more attention. Try to write slowly until you understand how libraries like Beautiful shop work.
- Copyright Limits
People sometimes don’t care about copyright and copy a website’s detailed information. But that doesn’t mean you should break copyright or other intellectual property or privacy laws.
For example, LinkedIn sued people for scraping information from its website. You can also be sued if you don’t follow the copyright rules.
So if you don’t know the rules, you should always follow the Terms of Service (TOS) and robots.txt files.
- Saving IP Addresses Getting Banned
If a scraper goes to a website a lot in a short time, your IP address will be blocked. The site looks for the local IP address to stop it.
But there is a way out. You need to slow down how fast you scrape data from individual pages or sites. Try to make time the entire process well, so it doesn’t get picked up as a bot.
The process may take more time to complete. So you can use the IP rotation feature! It quickly gets the most up-to-date information.
- Legal Feasibility
Is it legal or not to do data scraping on a website? The answer matters a lot.
Well, it depends on the terms. You can get data from some websites. But some keep their information private and don’t allow scraping.
So, if you are new and want to start scraping data, please read the terms of service first. You can scrape the data from that website if you don’t see any rules. It would be perfectly okay. It’s one of the things to consider before you start a web scraping project.
So when you parse the HTML, the pages or data won’t appear. It’s too much for the libraries to handle, so you can’t scrape data.
But Selenium is the answer. It works with the pages like a human. It can get all the necessary information. You can open it with a browser that works by itself. It solves problems with the way the Java script shows data.
Selenium can do many things that a person would do, like check a box, fill out a form, or click a button.
- Website Layout is Changeable
Is it just a one-time thing involving relatively little data? Then taking screenshots of the data is enough.
But we don’t always work on one-time projects. If you want to scrape data repeatedly and keep an eye on how it changes, the most important thing is to get the most recent data.
The layout of a website can change from time to time. Then, your older crawler can not use the same programming language to get the most up-to-date information.
So you should change the script. It’s not easy! You might get tired, and it takes a lot of time. You can do it smarter if you use the tools or hire someone to help you.
- Don’t Scrape Too Much
It’s terrible for you to scrape too much. Let’s say you use a script written in Python.
So it can make it hard to scrape the web, and the whole site can go down simultaneously. But it might not last very long.
There’s also a solution to this. Making only one request for each page is best to avoid problems like the browser shutting down.
Data scraping is easy until you step out of the plan. You need to figure out the main points and plan for what you have to do before you start web scraping.
There is a need for scripts, tools, and a specific plan. Then you can get and use the data correctly. It will help you improve your business. For example, you can use cURL with proxy.
Hopefully, the things mentioned above to consider before you start a web scraping project will help you. There is no alternative to web scraping, so try to do it better and have an impact on the business.