Numerous ready-made web scrapers exist. However, there may be situations warranting building one in-house. Whichever you choose to do, web scrapers are tools that can help you scale your business, making the respective investment worth it.
Web scrapers are as important to a business as telephones are. Web scraping tools give you insights that help inform business decisions. The result of web scraping can also keep your business ahead of the curve, beating your competitors in the process. Hence, it’s best to understand the two ways to get them.
What is web scraping?
Web scraping is accumulating data, insights, and content from the internet using specialized scrapers. The data collected is stored in a database to be analyzed and turned into actionable insights.
Many people scrape the web without knowing. For instance, copying content from the internet into Google docs is web scraping. Though, the web scraping that’ll require either building software in-house or purchasing a ready-made one is on a large scale. And since the data to be gleaned off the internet are in large volumes, web scrapers need to be super-efficient than you.
How to build a web scraper
Each programming language has strengths and weaknesses regarding its use in developing web scraping tools. For instance, Python is most widely used to build web scraping tools because it can handle almost all aspects of data extraction and is also easy to use.
C++ facilitates easier code reuse, seamless data parsing, and storage and can be easily scaled. On the other hand, Java is a sage of data extractions, traversing DOM elements, and CSS selections.
Hence, the first stage of building your web scraping tools is understanding your needs and target websites. Then communicate with your in-house technical team on how best to achieve the goals.
Advantages and disadvantages of building in-house web scrapers
Building in-house web scraping tools is a humongous task, especially for small businesses. And like every business strategy, there are pros and cons.
- You can tailor-make the software to meet company needs
- You can easily make changes if the scraper isn’t up to par
- When you build your web scraping tool in-house, you won’t expose your systems to a third-party program
- Gleaned data is of higher quality
- Costly for businesses with no in-house IT department
How to get and use a pre-made web scraper
There are numerous web scrapers on the internet, many of which offer free trials. The free trials help you examine their features to determine if they meet your needs. Though, the research and testing process can be time-consuming initially. However, once you find an excellent service, you don’t need to know how to code to maintain it.
Hence, if you decide to get a pre-made web scraping tool, do your due diligence to choose the best. Here is something to look out for when choosing a web scraper. A great example can be found at Oxylabs.
Business needs are the most important things to consider. Different web scraping services offer varying features, which are better adapted to some needs than others. So, do thorough research to draw a correlation between a scraper’s features and your business goals.
Cutting costs is important for every business. So, your focus while you search for the best ready-made web scraping tool is a balance of cost and performance. The general rule of thumb is that the better the service, the higher the cost.
The cost of scraping services is based on factors like crawling infrastructure, data volume, project complexity, crawl frequency, etc.
Reliability and support
As with every digital service, reliability and support are vital. It’s counter-productive to purchase a service that keeps breaking without prompt help. Hence, ensure that a communication line with the scraper’s developers remains open.
The technology used in ready-made scrapers varies. The supporting technological infrastructures in the tool join the underlying lines of code to determine efficiency, performance, cost, maintenance, etc.
Advantages and disadvantages of pre-made web scrapers
While IT teams can easily develop web scrapers quickly, you may need to scrape information more urgently. This necessitates purchase. Here are the pros and cons coming with buying these pre-made tools:
- It saves you time to use on other tasks
- Ready-made scrapers have better performance because the developers are focused on it and the business they built around it
- Many offer free trials to get you started in no time
- Most times, read-made scrapers adapt to low cost
- You have no control over the nitty-gritty of the app
You can proceed with either of the two options. But it’s all about doing what’s best for your company and falls within the budget. Hence, whichever of the two paths you choose, scrape effectively to stay ahead of the curve.