5 Things to Look for in a Web Scraper

by Lily White
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The internet remains the most reliable and updated data source that informs your business decisions for a competitive edge over the competition. For your business to benefit from such information, web data gathering solutions help you procure valid data for your company by accessing both historical data and the most recently updated results.

Continually evolving algorithms make such data available to any online user. Consequently, you need web scraping to not only efficiently access more data than the competition but also to keep your data secure from unscrupulous competitors. So, what should be on your bucket list when choosing a web scraper?


1. Can the web scraper handle website changes

Websites undergo structural and cosmetic modifications. In some instances, web designers use different layouts for different pages of the website. If your business invests in an automated scraper, that’s the best tool that will remain functional in the face of any changes in the target websites.

An apt scraping tool should monitor such changes efficiently to allow for its quick modifications to continue functioning optimally. Such a scraper should adapt to any tweaking and proceed to extract and analyze the enormous and unstructured data required by your company.

Some best solutions include writing new codes for the scraper or including a Branch Judgment option that will recognize the separate layouts and proceed with data extraction without a hitch.


2. Can it bypass anti-scrapers?

When too many scrapers try to access a website, it gets overwhelmed and crashes. Therefore, companies use anti-scrapers like Cloudflare to keep out your scraping bot.

Websites continuously work on scaling up their protection against web scraping requests. Without a means of bypassing this anti-scraper hurdle, your business stands to lose out on the innovative benefits of scraping such as:

  • Ability to invent new products
  • Enhancing the value of your database
  • Updating old software
  • Creating unique ways of building your customer base
  • Pricing comparison and updates

Countering anti scrapers requires costly solutions like paying for an API. Although APIs make scraping faster and easier, they limit the amount of data accessible. And that accessibility, when achieved, comes at a cost.

Fortunately, acquiring a customizable scraping bot enables you to modernize it affordably and leverage on its functionality without procuring an API.

Therefore, always look for a scraper that can bypass multiple anti-scraping mechanisms.


3. How affordable is the web scraper?

Web scraping often turns out to be an expensive, tiring, and time-consuming venture. For starters, the fact that many website owners periodically review their websites means that your scraper tools need constant modifications of format and structure to adapt to the changing target websites.

This maintenance becomes a financial burden on the running costs of your business.

Further security measures such as encoding files that website owners invest in to protect their websites from malware could disable your scraper. Eventually, your company will resort to investing in and maintaining more expensive but customizable scraping tools.

It would seem that building your webpage scraper would be cost-effective, but on the other hand, you will need to invest time and money to learn the skill. Fixing bugs and adding improvements pile on the initial investment expenses.

You can compare those costs to what it would cost you to outsource the service. A provider with a comprehensive package at an affordable price can provide insights that could save your company time and money.


4. Is the web scraper automated or manual? Which one should you choose?

Web page scraping that does not require harvesting of a lot of information is a simple process. It involves procedures like downloading and saving images and copying text. However, if your organization seeks bulk information constantly, manual scraping becomes a daunting task.

Websites today employ numerous scrolling and navigation techniques. These demands require great expertise and innovativeness of the web developer creating the scraper program. Such skill leads to the creation of a bot that mimics a human user.

In situations where anti-scraping measures exist, the speed of the scraping bot of fetching information betrays it. To counter that the possibility of your bot getting blocked by the target website, a scraper can have a random sleep code that automates the intervals between all requests made to the target website.

Another problem solved by automation involves denial of access to a website due to IP restriction. Investing in an automatic scraper enables you to customize it with several IP addresses through VPNs or proxy servers.

Such will keep you from getting blocked by the website with the resources your company requires. In the end, your company receives only relevant, clean, and organized data to meet its goals.

You can use manual methods if you’re just looking for one or two things. But in most cases, automation beats manual, by far. For that reason, go for an automated scraper.


5. How committed is the web scraping service provider?

Hiring a web development company to supply your business with a data scraper could turn into a frustrating venture. The providers are as variant as the terms of their services. Performing due diligence will help you get value for your money.

Hire the services of a provider with prompt and dedicated support. If you run into problems with your bot, which happens often, you will need a fast response from the provider to ensure your program navigates through all the challenges and blocks to help boost your business.

You should know if services come fully automated so that you can judge if you have competent personnel that can bridge the automation gap. You can peruse reviews to find out about the company’s infrastructure to see its suitability in handling complex websites.

Most scrap program providers offer different packages of their services to enable you to choose the ideal combination for your company’s needs. If you lack advanced techie skills, you ought to consider subscribing to a fully managed option, which will allow you and your staff to concentrate on other affairs of your business.

Whether you settle for a fully automated or partially manual scraper program, its efficiency will give you concise and detailed information to enable you to know where your business ranks in the industry, the needs of your target clients, and how to stay ahead of the competition.


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