It’s no secret that data is growing fast. A study by IDC titled Data Age 2025 predicts that worldwide data creation will grow to an enormous 163 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025. And if this does not give you the picture of how fast data grows, according to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day and 90 percent of the world’s data (that’s 90 percent of all the data ever created) had been created in the last two years (for the year 2016) . Just when we are experiencing such a massive explosion of data, have you ever thought about how data can be used to benefit your business or work role?
Embracing Big Data may sound complicated but it need not be. Web scraping (aka. web crawling, web data extraction, web harvesting, screen scraping, etc) is a technique used for acquiring large amounts of data from the web, such as social media, news portals, government reports or forums and turn it into structural dataset such as Excel, CSV, or database. This data can then be analyzed or processed for various purposes. Despite that web scraping is really nothing new, not many of us are aware of the web scraping activities happening around us every day. So in this article, I want to share the ways real businesses are using web scraping to achieve their strategic goals. If you are lucky, you may be enlightened by some of these ideas.
1. Content Aggregation
Collect articles of any topics from UGC platforms such as Quora or Medium conveniently. Broaden the scope of your original content by including other’s people’s perspectives.
2. Competitive Monitoring
Stay tuned of what your competitors are doing, their events, product developments, pricing strategies, and marketing campaigns. Knowing what those competitors are up to can help you stay ahead of the game and always be ready to fight back.
3. Sentiment Analysis
Understand customer sentiment and feedback by extracting reviews from E-commerce portals and other public sites.
Know your customers better and how they are perceiving the products and services offered by your business. Depending on the specific industry, Yelp, Amazon, Trip Advisors and the other dozens of rating and review sites are great places to explore.
4. Lead Generation
Simply find a website where your prospective buyers can be found, fetch the information you need such as phone numbers, emails, addresses. Web scraping can help you collect thousands of leads within minutes. If you are not sure where to look, check this article 88 Resources Tools to Become a Data Scientist. I am sure there will be one you can use.
5. Gather real estate listings
Scrape property details and agent contact details from real estate websites (eg. Zillow, Realtor, etc)
6. Market Research
Turn any data you find online into structured data and analyze them using any BI tools. Custom analysis can effectively reflect public demand and behaviors that are important for any businesses.
7. Create product catalogs by scraping product information (price, images, rating, reviews etc) from retailer/manufacturer/E-commerce websites (eg. Amazon, eBay, Alibaba etc.)
8. Find out what’s trending in the market by collecting data from different social media websites (eg. Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc)
9. Fetch video, including titles and subtitles from YouTube and other similar video hosting sites.
10. Machine Learning
Crawl all the data you need, let it be data points, images, or files for training your bots from the largest repository of data, the web!
11. Search Engine Optimization
Scrape metadata (eg. title/description/etc) from any websites or crawl internet search engine results for Search Engine Optimization monitoring.
12. Price Intelligence (Competitive Price Monitoring)
Use web scraping to monitor what your competitors are offering in real time. Learn about your competitors’ pricing strategies and increase your profits.
13. Build a job board by scraping job pages on company websites or jobs sites (eg. Indeed, Glassdoor, etc).
14. Content curation
Crawl forums and communities to extract data including posts and authors.
15. Scrape regulatory or statistical information from Government websites.
16. Extract hotel data, compare data such as pricing or review rating to stay competitive or aggregate this data to build your own platform.
17. Build News aggregation sites by crawling news data from different news portals.
18. Identify best-selling products on Amazon
19. Build your own price comparison site for all kinds of products and services.
20. Scrape insurance coverage from providers’ websites.
21. Brand Monitoring/Online Reputation
If you have a brand that people talks about via different channels, such as social media, forums or others, you might want to set up an automatic mechanism to fetch those data relevant to your interest and implement sentiment analysis for better decision marking.
22. Detect fake reviews
Use web crawling to filter out fake reviews (shillings) for more accurate analysis.
23. Target audience in advertising
Scrape customer profiles for accurate ad targeting. Understand your customers better by analyzing their comments or reviews, such as their genders, age groups, spending habits even hobbies to make better-targeted ads based on the observed patterns. If available, use profiles information for accurate ad targeting.
24. Scrape health physicians or doctors including their contact information from the various directory or hospital/clinic websites
25. Scrape historical judgments report as case reference for legal purposes
26. Scrape restaurant menu
27. Extract financial data in real time, such as stock and fund prices
28. Extract medical information, such as medicine details from Pharmaceutical Websites
29. Fetch sports data from different sport portals
30. Scrape car data or vehicle parts information from the web
As Carly Fiorina, former executive, president, and chair of Hewlett-Packard Co. had said, “the goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” Having the World Wide Web around means having the world’s largest and unbiased database, creating unprecedented business opportunities. Act now and stay ahead of the game.