In the field of SEO, the term Scraping refers to a strategy employed by SEOs or digital marketers to collect and use content or data from other websites. Web scraping is considered as a White Hat SEO strategy. It allows SEOs to automatically and quickly scrape information or data from the web to analyze in order to develop / improve a marketing strategy. The practice of this technique requires the use of dedicated tools or computer programs.
Collecting data from websites used to be a very complicated practice and was only for experienced web developers. But since the automation of web scraping with the involvement of very powerful tools, the practice of data mining on the internet is now done efficiently and at the minute.
In this article, I will explain the concept of “Scraping” while taking care to provide you with some web scraping automation tools to make your next scraping practices easier.
Chapter 1: Definition, usefulness and the different types of scraping
Scraping is a process of collecting data on the web that is usually done automatically using tools designed for this purpose. In this part, I will mainly talk about the meaning of the concept “Scrap” while insisting on its uses in the field of web marketing.
1.1) What does the concept of “Scrap” mean?
Before going further in this development, it is important to clarify a common confusion that is made in relation to the term “web scraping”.
Indeed, the term “Scraping” is written with a single “p” and not “Scrapping” which has another meaning outside our framework. However, it is not uncommon to see people confusing these two terms in French-speaking circles.
The correct spelling of “Scraping” comes from the English verb “to scrape” which means in French “l’action de gratter ou d’érafler une partie” of something.
The term “scrapping” not to be used in the context of web content extraction comes from the verb “to scrap” and literally means “to abandon, to get rid of something”. Web “Scraping” therefore means “scraping”.
This turn of phrase alludes to a natural referencing practice that consists of automatically sucking out existing content on websites for internal use.
To do scraping, SEOs use bots that crawl sites and automatically extract content
Web resources that are often scraped include:
- Texts ;
In concrete terms, web scraping is a process of extracting a multitude of data and information that can be used on other websites
There are generally two ways of scraping on the web: Manual and automatic scraping.
- Manual scraping: This method consists of copying and pasting data and information to create a database. It is time consuming and can only be applied to small amounts of data
- Automatic scraping: This method is the most common and uses different tools such as expanders and software to collect the data
1.2. what is scraping for?
The main thing to keep in mind when talking about scraping is that it is the set of practices that allow scraping well-structured content or data from the web.
Scraping is a very clever strategy that can be used for many purposes. Apart from the shady use that some marketers make of it by copying and plagiarizing the contents of other websites to get ranked on the pages of Google search results, the practice of scraping offers several advantages in the digital marketing sector.
In marketing, some people use it for example to perform competitive intelligence
Indeed, scraping gives you a large advantage over your competitors. It allows you to collect information and data on their sites in order to analyze and compare their strategies with yours. This is useful to improve your marketing strategy.
For example, an e-merchant can use web scraping to consult and compare the products of competitors’ stores and his own products
Web scraping is also a very effective strategy for market research. In this case, it allows to build up information and data to analyze the efficiency of a market as well as its financial value.
In the field of tourism, Google uses scraping in the best way and collects data from price comparison sites to show its users the prices of flights as well as hotels
1.3. The different types of scraping
There are several types of scraping, among which we can mention
1.3.1. Screen scraping
Screen scraping is the type of scraping that focuses exclusively on extracting content and data from a screen.
1.3.2. Report mining
This is a type of scraping that consists of extracting data from a report in a text file format.
1.3.3. Web scraping
Web scraping is the technique of extracting content or information from websites. The rest of this development will be exclusively devoted to the use of web scraping
1.4. The different stages of scraping
Whatever the type of scraping, the use or practice always respects three essential steps:
This is the stage of the request where the browser extension or the scraper robot used simply identifies and downloads the web pages that will be analyzed.
This is the different ways in which the program used will crawl the different targeted sites in order to store URLs for data processing.
This step is also called processing. After the program has scanned the sites and downloaded the URLs, the analysis and extraction stage begins.
For more automatic processing, CSS or XPath selectors are used to process and extract the essential data more precisely.
The scraping program used here takes care of retrieving, structuring and exporting the scraped contents and data in order to save them in a format of your choice. For example, you can save them in a value table or a database.
1.5. The different types of Scrapers
The web has undergone a very sudden evolution and the techniques and means of development are also democratized
The means to carry out scraping have developed in the same way as the web. There are now several ways to make web scraping in an automated way.
Discover here the different types of scrapers you can use to extract web data and how they work.
1.5.1. Using Copy and Paste for scraping
Copy and paste is a method to do scraping manually. Although it tends to be downplayed, it is a fairly simple and very effective technique, especially when the data to be extracted is small.
With the help of copy and paste you can copy an entire table from Wikipedia and paste it into a spreadsheet instead in a very quick way. 1.5.2. Using Linkclump to scrape links and titles
LinkClump is a Chrome browser extension that is among the best sales boosting extensions. It is a fairly easy to use scraper that overall allows you to:
- Easily extract titles and links from targeted websites ;
- Sort and select only important links and data from the retrieved pages;
- Recover images or other types of files.
With LinkClump, you can retrieve links and titles from any page on the web and all this in no time. It is ultra convenient to collect data from sites that appear on SERPs as shown in the image above
1.5.3. Captain Data
Captain Data is a scraper that allows you to retrieve only the important data. With a few gestures, it can crawl high authority sites and retrieve the requested data and information.
Captain Data scans the sites that we would like to scrape such as: platforms or social networks likely to provide generic emails (Facebook, Linkedin, Sales Navigator, Twitter, Instagram, indeed, etc.) Captain Data even allows in some cases to send connection requests especially on LinkedIn.
The main advantage of Captain Data lies in the fact that it can work with the best mail finder tools to help you :
- Detect business contacts on Google;
- Use LinkedIn data to enrich these contacts;
- Find emails for each of the contacts with drop contact integration.
Nevertheless, as simple and efficient as it is, Captain data requires subscriptions starting at 100 euros per month.
1.5.4. Using TabSave to Scrape an image or file bank on the web
TabeSave works together with LinkClump. For example, photo libraries or file banks usually contain thousands of images or files. With LinkClump, you can retrieve all the links redirecting to the image or file banks.
Source : Salesdorado
The role of TabSave will be to download all the images or files. To do this, you will paste all the links retrieved by LinkClump in TabSave and click on “Download” to download a considerable quantity of its images and files.
1.5.5. Use Google Spreadsheets and XPath to scrape H2 titles
This is a bit of a crude usage here, but you have to understand that Google Spreadsheets has a feature called ImportXML that allows you to do a lot of things.
Source : Salesdorado
Also with the XPath program which is by the way very important in web scraping, you can easily scrape any element on a website. Especially with XPath, you can retrieve all H2 titles of an article on selected websites.
1.5.6 Web Scraper for beginners
Quite simple and without code, Web Scraper is a web scraping tool that is very easy and effective to use.
The tool provides its users with tutorial videos that will allow you to perform certain tasks such as paginating the content on your site and interacting with the pages, etc. All this without even writing a line of code. All this without even writing a line of code beforehand. Nevertheless, you need patience to make patterns and scraping. It may take you some time.
1.5.7. Using SpiderPro for $38
Another one of the easiest tools to use for novices. For only $38, you can download Spider Pro to scrap the web.
Source : Salesdorado
The tool allows you to select the content or data you want and then turn it into well-organized data that can be downloaded in JSON or CSV format.
1.5.8. Using Apify
Apify is one of the scrappers that allow you to retrieve ordered data from online websites.
If you have an online store, you can use Apify to scrape data from store sites in the same category as yours in order to improve your offers and make better proposals for your customers.
For example, as part of your competitive intelligence, you need to create a table where you can put:
- Dress sizes ;
- brands ;
- The prices.
Collecting this information manually to complete your table can be time consuming and you may not have all the information. With an Apify setup, you can create your table automatically and extract your competitors’ data in seconds.
In addition to being a fairly easy to use tool, Apify has a lot of features that allow you to set up your Scrapes.
- Apify has a well done documentation online like Puppeteer, jQuery, underscoreJS, etc.
- Apify also has an API that allows you to create scrape scripts in Json,XML,HTML,CSV,RSS format and process the result on a Webhook.
1.5.9. Scrapy; efficient and fast
Scrapy is a scraping tool especially designed for those who know Python. It allows you to easily and quickly scrape resources from the web. Scrapy can be run on a local server or on the scrapy cloud.
Source : Salesdorado
Scrapy asks in this case to use “Network” to search directly for the data sources, so instead of forcing the execution of the query on the web page generated with JvaScript, you can do it directly through your web browser
Chapter 2: What are the advantages of scraping?
This chapter is devoted to the various advantages of scraping.
2.1. The advantages of scraping related to the use of tools ?
The data retrieved from the web, whether from competitors’ sites or from prospects, can allow you to do several things such as
- Establish a well-targeted list of companies;
- Select the customer profiles that interest you;
- Do Event Based Marketing (EBM), that is to say, automatically detect signals in your customers. This will allow you to react much faster when your customers need you.
- And so on.
In recent years, we have seen the use of automation accelerate the popularity of scraping. This strategy that was once reserved for the most experienced developers is now accessible to everyone.
With a tool like Captain Data, scraping is now as simple as choosing the sites to scrap and the data to extract.
Thanks to the scraping tools, it is possible to :
- Extract information and data without having any technical knowledge of programming;
- Mechanize the process of retrieving data from the web;
- Process and analyze data in order to make strategic decisions;
2.2. build a well-targeted business list with Web Scraping
If you want to prospect, you must necessarily create a profile of your ideal customer (Persona Branding). This is the first step in any marketing activity
This first step consists in creating a profile of the customer (Ideal Customer Profile) adapted to your offers and services. With scraping, you can retrieve a lot of data about the companies in your ideal profile when targeting companies.
You will be able to collect valuable information with the help of scraping such as:
- Phone numbers.
The goal is to have all the necessary information that can lead you to the ideal company or customer. If your target is on LinkedIn for example, I recommend you to use Linkedin Sales Navigator which is a very powerful scraping tool.
Source : Salesdorado
This Scraper will allow you to obtain well-targeted lists of companies
In addition, Google Maps is also a very effective source where you can collect contacts from sites with the characteristics of your target.
2.3. identify and select the right information from your target customers’ accounts on LinkedIn
There are several ways to detect the right contacts and the right data you need
If you have a company that operates in the B2B (Business to Business) system, you will be able to find this data there, by exploring your target customers’ accounts on LinkedIn. The tools presented above can help you to do this quickly and you will also save precious minutes instead of going through the profiles one by one.
2.4. Spot weak signals with scraping
Scraping is a strategy that allows a marketer to follow the activity of a prospect or a competitor by detecting signals that will allow him to consider strategies and business opportunities.
I propose here some tips that you can use to detect companies according to your needs.
Source : Salesdorado
Tip 1: Apply specific filters on Sales Navigator
E.g. If you decide to detect growing companies, you can use the filters to explore “Employee Growth”.
Tip 2: Use Indeed’s “Job search” feature to enhance the retrieved data
This tip is best used when your target audience is recruiting companies.
In this case, you can also go on LinkedIn to search for companies that post job offers. It should be noted that negative reviews give you a better opportunity to get some dissatisfied and unhappy customers from your competitors.
2.5. Scraping allows you to give a score to each customer: CRM scoring
If you want to identify your key performance indicators and evaluate your market, scraping is also a better strategy to implement. Start by detecting a website with a lot of value
In particular, you can collect a lot more data on the targeted company by scraping :
- Social networks ;
- addresses and legal data;
- Easily detectable data and information (languages, navigation links, phone numbers, etc.).
In addition, you can create patterns to extract employee emails. A pattern is defined as the structure or construction of an email address
For example, business email addresses are usually built with the structure:prénom@nomdelentreprise.com.
By detecting the company’s pattern, you have the possibility to have the emails of all employees
To automate your actions in this sense, you can use a tool like Hunter. Other tools like Builtwith and Similartech can help identify traffic automatically and even identify other scraping tools that competing companies use.
2.5. Gather reliable data and information
Data quality is the ability of a company to update its data as things change
As a company, you must therefore fight against the obsolescence of your data. To do so, scraping can also help you to regularly monitor your databases and update them in time.
Indeed, you can detect a modification or a change of a background lift for example with signals from scraping tools. This will allow you to identify new business opportunities or marketing strategies.
2.6. Make the collected data accessible and operational
As I explained in the previous section, data quality allows you to update the data
But, note that data is only reliable when it is operational and identical in all systems (CRM software, marketing automation software, etc.) where it is present.
With scraping tools like Captain data, you have the possibility to make the data accessible on the CRM software, but you can also make it available on all the software of the data ecosystem of your company.
Chapter 3: Other concerns about scraping
3.1. Is scraping a Black Hat or White Hat strategy?
The main objectives of practicing scraping techniques are SEO and sales.
Scraping is perceived as a fraudulent extraction of data on the web. It is sometimes used with bad intentions and some webmasters collect information from other sites and then paste it on their sites to improve their SEO.
This way of doing things goes against the guidelines of Google and is a bad practice when it comes to referencing a website
It is therefore clearly a Black Hat practice that can lead to a manual penalty or simply a downgrade from Google.
On the other hand, when scraping is used with the intention of improving your marketing strategy, it can be considered as White Hat.
Indeed, when the data extracted from websites are processed and analyzed in order to follow the evolution of competitors and define a new marketing approach, scraping will contribute to the development of your business in a legal way.
Note that scraping is not explicitly a Black Hat strategy even if some use it in the wrong way. By the way, Google also does scraping on a large number of sites in order to guarantee its users better search results in the SERPs.
3.2. What is the difference between web scraping and web indexing?
Indexing is a practice that allows Google to crawl websites and index web pages with quality content in order to present them in search results.
This work is done by indexing robots still called Spiders that are responsible for visiting web pages while respecting the guidelines (Robot.txt, Nofollow, etc.) of the site owner
As for scraping, the overall objective is to retrieve content from other websites for personal use.
The scraping is done without the consent of the site owner and the scraping tools used do not respect any guidelines.
In this article we have defined scraping with all the possible nuances to be made with the term “Scrap” as well as the types and benefits of scraping for digital marketing.
There is no doubt that the automation of the practice of scraping has contributed greatly to the expansion of this technique
We have also outlined a list of powerful scraping tools to help extract data and content from the web quickly and safely.
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Leave us a comment and especially mention the Scraper that stood out for you and that you plan to use soon.