As the scope of data continuously grows and gains momentum day by day, modern businesses face a number of challenges. They need to monitor variable business information and data from the web in order to realize their operational processes and performance monitoring.
Business runs on data; but this data is often spread across unstructured online sources, and extracting it is time- and labor-consuming. Automated data scraping can retrieve the necessary data even from the sources that have no structure. This can be used to upload files and fill in the forms if required.
An automated web scraper is applicable for dealing with
A web data extraction, transformation, and transportation automation tool relieves you of the necessity of manual scraping or script creation.
What is more, a complex scraping system with advanced processing and filtering algorithms may automatically integrate the extracted data with your IT infrastructure, bridging the gap between unstructured information and business mobile or web applications.
Let’s look into the process in more detail.
Automated web scraping is the process of regular data fetching from target web sources and web pages, using specialized software that is designed for the purpose. This software visits websites on a schedule and checks them for needed information. Another kind of automated scraping solution is a custom-built web crawling system that explores the internet and scrapes all web pages that fit its search criteria.
Our web monitoring solution is an automatic web data extraction software with an intuitive user interface that checks a web source (or sources) on a regular basis, and reports any changes to the target web pages. It automatically informs the users about any changes on a web page, or takes specific actions like scraping changed items or doing other programmed actions.
At DataOx, automatic web crawling is a very popular service for our clients. For instance, if you want to monitor your competitors’ prices and then set your prices accordingly, you need an automated website monitoring solution that will check your competitors’ prices on their sites every ten minutes, then inform you or just change your prices, depending on your requirements.
Incremental scraping means that you can automatically retrieve the most recently added items from a particular web page.
Want to monitor real estate listings or job boards? Then this is the service for you! You don’t want to scrape the entire website each time — you need just the fresh listings or job posts.
The automated data monitoring system works the same way, by checking the website on a regular basis, and downloads just the added items.
A good example of incremental data extraction is RSS (Really Simple Syndication) technology. If you want to find updated news or other information on a website, you can use RSS if the web source allows it. However, RSS often doesn’t provide all the data businesses need for extensive projects.
The majority of sites legally disallow bots, while some web platforms apply fierce bot-blocking mechanisms and dynamic coding practices. That’s why web scraping is always a dynamic and rather a challenging practice.
Let’s look closer at some challenges.
As we already mentioned, there are sites that disallow crawling by indicating it in their robots.txt. In such cases, the best option is to find an alternative web source with similar information.
The primary task of captcha is to keep spam away. However, they can also control bot accessibility to the site. When a bot comes across it, its basic function often fails, so special technology must be applied to overcome the challenge and gain the necessary data.
Sites often add new features and apply structural changes, which bring scraping tools to a halt. This happens when the software is written with respect to the website code elements.
The ownership of user-generated content is debatable. However, sites publishing this content often claim rights for it and disallow crawling. However, gathering publicly available information is not illegal.
IP blocking is rarely an issue for professional web crawling tools. However, IP blocking mechanisms of the target sites could block even harmless bots.
When it comes to instantaneous price comparison, real-time inventory tracking, news feed aggregation, sports score retrieval, or other use cases, real-time scraping plays a decisive role. This can be achieved with an extensive technical infrastructure able to handle ultra-fast live crawls.
These are actually the major reasons why businesses outsource web data extraction to dedicated service providers. With a proper technical stack and expertise, experts like DataOx can easily handle such issues and take complete responsibility of web monitoring and crawler maintenance.
Constant maintenance is an important part of automated monitoring systems, as scraped websites quite often change their design and HTML code, which can cause failures in the data feed and collection. The core of maintenance is data quality assurance — the process of testing scraped content for quality each time as the system downloads it from the target websites. At DataOx, we provide maintenance with the help of special software and manual data checking.
At DataOx, we build custom automated web data monitoring software or provide regular data feeds as a data delivery service. For instance, returning to our news example above, we can develop a system that scrapes all news web sources that interest you, and gives you news updates sorted by category. You can receive data on a regular basis or buy our custom solutions to own and operate the software (see more details in our pricing plans).
If you need consulting regarding your project, our professional expert Dmitrii would love to talk to you about it! Schedule a free consultation.
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