Hackernoon logoSort Through Online Data via Web Scraping [101] by@finn-pierson

Sort Through Online Data via Web Scraping [101]

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@finn-piersonFinn Pierson

How Can You Sort Through Online Data?

Nowadays, there is so much information available to people at any given time. There is more accessible information now than there was at any other time.
There is so much data on the internet alone that one person could never process all of it. The problem with internet data is that it is not always right and it is not always relevant.
Sometimes it is and it is important to be able to sort through what’s relevant and what isn’t. As a person or even a team of people, you cannot expect to handle all of the information. How can you sort through mass online data?
The best way that you can sort through data is to use web scraping. Here is what you need to know.

What Is Web Scraping?

The answer to sorting through mass online data is through web scraping. Web scraping can be used in a variety of different ways to collect information throughout the internet.
Normally, a person or company will use a software that simulates web surfing to collect different types of information. This is also a form of data mining.
If a person copies information from a website and then pastes it into a document or spreadsheet, then technically he or she is web scraping. The problem with this method is that it takes a lot of time.
It’s a boring and tedious task for any one person to do. There is no reason that a company or person needs to sit in front of a computer all day and constantly copy and paste. A script for web scraping can make it so much easier.

What Is Web Scraping For?

There are a number of different reasons that a business might use web scraping. The reasons vary based on the circumstance and need of the company.
For instance, retailers might use web scraping to monitor the prices of their competition and to improve their products. They may also look at the product reviews.
Business directories, on the other hand, may use data scraping to find the complete business profile, phone, products, working hours and more. Often, competitors will scrape competitor’s information.
Media companies may also collect topics that are trending and look at social media profiles. No matter your industry, there are a number of different uses for web scraping.

How Does Web Scraping Work?

A web scraping program will search a site for targeted data. Then, once it has that data, it typically shows it to you in HTML format. Then, it takes said scraped data and stores it in a database so that you can use it.
Of course, this is a very simple version of how a data scraper works. There are a lot of different types of software with varying complexities. While most will follow this system, some may be more powerful than others.

Is Web Scraping Illegal?

By itself, web scraping is absolutely not illegal. You are taking information from a public website and organizing it or storing it. What matters is how you use the data. For the most part, data scraping is a completely legal and appropriate measure that a lot of businesses take.
Nowadays, about 3 billion people are on the internet. It is difficult to imagine all of the different types of content that is out there. There are most likely websites that you have never heard of and would never dream of.
With all of this date, it is difficult to sift through the information that you are familiar with. Most businesses do not have the time to scour the internet for information. If you run a business, you don’t want to go through your competitor’s data. It is easier when you have a program readily available.
When it comes to data scraping, it is extremely convenient for most industries. An added benefit is that there are many types of software that are already available. You do not have to make your own code.

*There is no affiliation with the companies mentioned or linked to in the article and the author*


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