What you need to know before starting to gather data online
With these tips and tricks in mind, you can have an efficient and effective web scraping operation from the beginning.
Many people say that data is more valuable than oil, and they would be correct in most cases. Data can be very valuable to businesses and individuals, mainly because they can use it to gain a better understanding of specific subjects and make better-informed decisions. Data is also easier to mine and store now that there are more resources available.
That doesn’t mean any data is valuable. While relevant and contextual data sets are worth investing in, large data pools with plenty of noise and junk data aren’t. Simply setting up a data collection process is not enough. You have to think about how to best gather data online and the benefits you can get in return. These tips and tricks will help you.
One of the first things you need to understand about web scraping and gathering data online is the importance of anonymizing the operation. Web scraping is easy now that there are plenty of tools and resources to use. But data sources are still reluctant to allow scraping operations. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook regularly ban IP addresses that show scraping activities.
What you need to do is anonymize the entire web scraping operation by using proxies. What you want is a reliable residential proxy service that directs traffic through thousands of IP addresses that belong to real residential users. You can find all information about best proxy providers in the market by visiting https://proxyway.com/best/proxy-service-providers.
Here’s more good news: residential proxy services are just as easy to find. You have top providers offering millions of IPs in hundreds of locations. You can direct traffic from specific cities or regions depending on the kind of web scraping operations you run. This is how you create a sustainable scraping operation from the start.
Have Clear Objectives
Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of having clear objectives. Simply collecting all the data that you can access publicly is not the way to go, and choosing the right data to collect without clear objectives is virtually impossible. You have to fully understand how you are going to use the data once you collect it.
What kind of insights do you want to generate? What are the things you want to understand from the data points? What is the best way to eliminate noise and store only relevant information? These questions need to be answered. And you can only answer them when you know exactly the objectives that you are trying to achieve.
On top of that, having clear objectives also help you optimize the entire data-gathering operation further. For example, if you are doing competitor research for SEO purposes, you can use tools designed to gather SEO-related data rather than generic web scraping tools. The former don’t need a complex setup to get you started.
Store and Process
The next thing to tackle is data storage. The scale of your data gathering operation will dictate how to best store and process data. Since you already have these details figured out thanks to the previous tip, you can focus more on the technical elements of the operation that best suit your requirements.
If you want to do constant monitoring or you need to collect a large amount of data, using a cloud cluster is the more efficient way to go. You only pay for the resources you use. And you can keep the data scraping operation running indefinitely without dealing with physical hardware maintenance and other mundane tasks.
For occasional web scraping, on the other hand, running the ops from an on-premise device may be more efficient. A common operation takes no more than a few hours to complete, and you can continue with processing the data offline (at greater speed) after that. Everything else is easier to set up since you can do it directly on the devices.
Eliminate Noise from the Start
This is another thing that you need to understand when doing web scraping. A lot of scrapers, especially digital marketers, start collecting data with the wrong mindset. They tend to think that more data is better and that they can sort and refine the stored data further down the line. That’s the wrong mentality.
When you collect a lot of noise while doing web scraping, processing data and generating valuable insights is more difficult. What you want to do is refine your RegEx or web scraping parameters so you can filter out noise from the beginning. The better the input, the more valuable the output will be as well.
With these tips and tricks in mind, you can have an efficient and effective web scraping operation from the beginning. You can start benefiting from online data gathering sooner than you think.
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