Scraping, also known as web scraping, is a technique that consists of extrapolating information from websites automatically and in bulk. This technique is used to collect thousands or even millions of data through the extraction of information from web pages.
Among the uses that can be given to scraping, the analysis of market trends, market research, price monitoring, competitor analysis, evaluation of online reputation, among others, stand out.
It is important to note that while scraping may seem like a straightforward technique, it can have legal, ethical, and intellectual property implications. Therefore, it is crucial for any person or company wishing to make use of web scraping to ensure that they comply with applicable laws and acquire the necessary permits or licenses.
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Scraping is usually done to:
- Analysis of market trends: Thanks to web scraping it is possible to collect relevant information related to market trends in an automated and large-scale way. This allows companies to have a better understanding of market behavior and adapt their marketing and sales strategies accordingly.
- Market research: Scraping is also useful for market research, as it allows you to collect and analyze relevant information about consumers, such as their interests, preferences and buying behaviors. In this way, companies can design marketing strategies and launch products that are better suited to the needs of their potential customers.
- Price monitoring: Another popular application of scraping is price monitoring. With this technique it is possible to obtain information on the prices of the products and services of the competition, and thus adjust the prices of the company itself to be more competitive in the market.
- Competitor analysis: In addition to price monitoring, scraping also allows you to collect useful information about marketing strategies, products and services offered, and other relevant aspects of competing companies. This allows companies to adapt their strategies and stay on top of market trends.
- Online reputation assessment: Web scraping is useful for monitoring the online reputation of a company, as it allows you to collect relevant information about what is being said about it on the web. In this way, companies can take steps to improve their online image and avoid reputational problems.
How to avoid Scraping
The use of scraping is on the rise, but it is important for companies to ensure they comply with applicable laws, obtain necessary permits and licenses, and take steps to protect against unethical scraping. Below are some ways to protect your website against this technique:
- Use a robots.txt file: This file is used to tell search engine bots which pages they can or cannot crawl and collect data. Although not a complete security measure, it is an easy and effective way to control which parts of a website can be tracked.
- Use captchas: Captchas are a form of protection against automated bots trying to access your website. These use a series of tests to determine whether a visitor is human or not before providing access. If a bot tries to access it, the captcha will detect it and block access.
- Implement a speed limit: Many high-volume scraping bots will try to speed up requests to the website, which can often damage the servers and performance of the web page. Implementing a speed limit on the website can help control the speed of these requests and protect a site from future attacks.
- Use bot detection software: There are programs that can detect scraping activity and stop it before data extraction occurs. These programs can be configured to detect patterns of bot behavior and prevent them from accessing a website.