At some point, when running a business, you might end up having to collect data online. Companies rely on data for various reasons – they want to get a competitive advantage, check the background of potential partners, aggregate valuable information in one place, and more. Gathering data is not a problem – you can simply copy it from websites and paste it into a well-formatted spreadsheet.
However, when you need to gather data at scale, it becomes complicated. Getting the data from hundreds and thousands of websites does come with a few challenges and calls for sophisticated solutions such as marketplace scraper API. Let’s see what data gathering is, the main challenges, and how to overcome them.
What is data gathering?
Data gathering encompasses targeting specific data found online, finding, pulling, and storing it for further use. It can be virtually any set of data, including images, copies, and numbers. Most often, data gathering initiatives target text and numbers found on a website. Every data-gathering strategy is unique.
It’s defined by the scope, time window, and the data it targets. Modern data gathering initiatives are done at scale. It simply means that the data organizations want to gather is dispersed across thousands of websites. You should also know that data gathering is also referred to as data extraction and data scraping. It’s not a manual process – it uses scraping bots to find and extract data from websites automatically.
Main challenges of gathering data
Website managers and owners, including the server admins, want to keep their websites and servers running at the most optimal speeds. To do it, they often restrict access to bots and people outside of the geographies they offer services to. IP blocking and geo-restrictions are some of the main challenges.
Some websites feature anti-scraping (read anti-data gathering) technologies. These are very hard to bypass as it requires substantial knowledge in coding and web technologies.
Some websites feature complex layouts, which makes data extraction extremely hard. Also, not all websites have the same layout and your data gathering solution has to be capable of seamlessly navigating to and extracting data. Add the element of layout updates to it, and you have a recipe for complexity.
Ways to overcome these obstacles
While there are a few substantial challenges to gathering data at scale, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do. For every challenge, there is an effective solution.
Complex website layouts and structures can be addressed with high-quality scrapers. Now, all web scrapers are not the same – some are simply better coded than others. More importantly, the developers behind them are continuously releasing updates and willing to make customizations to make them work in specific niches.
To handle CAPTHAs you can use marketplace scraper API able to handle not only CAPTCHAs but also browsers and proxies with one simple API call. Website admins often use trigger-based CAPTCHA. For triggers, they use the frequency of requests, IP address, and honeypot traps. To avoid CAPTCHA, you need to be aware of honeypot traps, use proxies to address IP tracing, and slow down the scraping process.
IP blocking and geo-restrictions are also not something you should worry about. With reliable proxy services, you can easily launch data gathering operations at scale. With the right kind of proxies, such as rotating and residential proxies, you’ll be able to pull data from websites without being blocked or banned.
Benefits of data
Why would you engage in the automatic collection of huge amounts of data at scale in the first place? Data offers multiple benefits that all boil down to one thing – become able to make informed business decisions.
Gathering data can help you gauge the current developments in your market. You will also be able to closely monitor your competitors and see what they are doing to attract their customers. For instance, you can discover an effective marketing strategy and analyze their social media following.
Data can also enable you to excel at the pricing optimization game and develop a data-driven dynamic pricing strategy to cut through the noise and generate more sales.
With the right targeting, you can gather data on your potential leads and use it to power your next personalized email marketing campaign. Finally, data enables you to run sentiment analysis to learn how your products and services are received and what improvements are needed to make them more attractive.
Data gathering at scale can offer answers to many business questions. As you can see, there are a number of challenges you’ll face if you decide to do it. Fortunately, if you choose your web scraping tech stack wisely, source your scraping bots from pros, and use marketplace scraper API and cutting-edge proxy servers, you will be able to run data gathering operations at scale with success.
Lokesh Naik is an avid blogger and internet freak who is behind this blog. A tech enthusiast and fan of smartphones who keeps track of every little happening in the smartphone world. When not writing, he loves watching cricket.