Data is the lifeblood of the web. We often say “content is king”, but what we mean is “data is king”.
All good user experiences are crafted after careful data analysis. It’s why we’re all here, from the articles we read, to the products we buy, to the ideas we post, data is everything.
Finding data, particularly for smaller businesses can be a daunting prospect. How can you generate so much data, when your competitors have been pushing, and collecting data for months, or even years? How do you manage and analyse data from millions of sites, without a dedicated research team?
We often say ‘content is king’, but what we mean is ‘data is king’
The answer, as with so many things on the modern web, is automation.
Automating data collection, analysing it, and responding accordingly is easier than you might think thanks to web scraping.
Web scraping is, in essence, what your browser is doing right now: retrieving data from a server, and making use of it by formatting it for you to read. But that’s not all you can do with web scraping. Once you have the data, it can be processed, stored, or republished.
Web scraping is a fantastic way of working with web data, without having to do any heavy lifting.
When to Use Web Scraping
Imagine you’re running a design conference in Manhattan. You want to help your customers by suggesting hotels they might stay in, places to eat out, and the best prices on flights so they can afford your top-tier ticket price. But it’s simply not possible for you to try out every hotel in NYC, let alone every eatery, and pricing for flights from thousands of points of origin changes hourly.
if you were going to build your own, niche search engine this is exactly how you’d do it
So you deploy a web scraping API to search hotel websites for room rates and contact details. You deploy the same API to search review sites for restaurants within walking distance of your venue. You can even deploy the same API to regularly check pricing on the most popular travel sites to help your customers snag the best deal.
Of course, we wouldn’t recommend scraping content and simply reposting it unaltered. Duplicating another site’s content doesn’t help your users, and will see you fall foul of Google, if not the law.
Web scraping works best when you use it to grab the data that other sites want you to find, and make use of — if you were going to build your own, niche search engine this is exactly how you’d do it.
Web Scraping with scrapestack
One of the best web scraping APIs available is scrapestack, a real-time, scaleable, REST API. With scrapestack you can retrieve data from billions of web pages, hosted anywhere on the web, in milliseconds.
scrapestack provides a simple 3-step quickstart guide, which is easy to follow, and will have you up and running in five minutes. You can access the API however you please, and example code is provided for PHP, Python, Nodejs, jQuery, Go, and Ruby.
Best of all, scrapestack is free to get started; all you have to do is register to get your API key and you’re all set. The free-forever plan allows you to make up to 10,000 requests per month.
you don’t need to be an expert developer to take advantage of the scrapestack API
scrapestack is delivered by apilayer, one the the most reliable names in the field. apilayer products are known for their shallow learning curves, which means you don’t need to be an expert developer to take advantage of the scrapestack API. The excellent documentation will guide you step by step, and there’s always technical support if you need it — even free customers get access to limited support.
Should You Use Web Scraping?
Everything that you can do with web scraping, can be done by a human being with a web browser, painstakingly traversing search engine results, copying and pasting. But for those who think life is too short for that, a web scraping API is ideal.
The web is packed with semantic data, data that wants to be found and used; scrapestack is an excellent solution that will help you do just that.
To grab your free API key, and start harvesting data from the web, head over to scrapestack.com today.