Tuesday, 26 August 2014

How Data Scraping can extract Data from a Complex Web Page?

The Web is a huge repository where data resides both in structured as well as unstructured formats and presents its own set of challenges in the extraction.The complexity of a website is defined by the way it displays its data. Most of the structured data available on the web are sourced from an underlying database, while the unstructured data are randomly available. Both, however, make querying for data a complicated process. Moreover, Websites display the information in HTML format marked by their unique structure and layout, thereby complicating the process of data extraction even further. There are, however, certain ways in which appropriate data can be extracted from these complex web sources.
Complete Automation of Data Extraction process

There are several standard automation tools which require human inputs in order to start the extraction process. These Web automation processes, known as the Wrappers, need to be configured by a human administrator so as to carry out the extraction process in a pre-designated manner. This method, therefore, is also referred to as extraction through the supervised approach. Owing to the use of human intelligence in pre-defining the extraction process, this method assures a higher rate of accuracy. However, it is not without its fair share of limitations. Some of these are:
  •  It fails to scale-upsufficiently in order to take on a higher volume of extraction more frequently and from multiple sites. 
  •  They fail to automatically integrate and normalize data from a large number of websites owing to its inherent workflow issues 
As a result, therefore, fully automated data extraction tools which do not require any human input are a better option to tackle complex web pages. The benefits they afford include the following:

  • They are better equipped to scale up as and when needed 
  •  They can handle complex and dynamic sites, including those running on Java and AJAX 
  •  They are definitely more efficient than the use of manual processes, running scripts or even using Web Scrapers.

Selective Extraction

Web sites today comprise a host of unwanted content elements that are not required for your business purpose. Manual processes, however are unable to eliminate these redundant features from being included. Data Extraction tools can be geared to exclude these in the extraction process. The following things are noted in order to ensure that:
  • As most irrelevant content elements like banners, advertisements and the like are found at the beginning or the end of the web page, the tool can be configured so as to ignore the specific regions during the extraction process. 
  • In certain web pages, elements like navigation links are often found in the first or last records of the data region. The tool can be tuned to identify these and remove them during extraction. 
  • Tools are equipped to match similarity patterns within data records and remove ones that bear low similarity with essential data elements as these are likely to have unwanted information.

Web Data Extraction through automated processes provides the precision and efficiency required to extract data from complex web pages. If engaged the process helps you to achieve satisfactory innovations in your business processes.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

How does Web Scraping Identify the Data you Want

The Web is one of the biggest sources of data that should be leveraged for your business. Be it an email, an URL or even a hyperlink text you are looking at, it comprises data that could be translated into useful information for your business. The challenge however lies in identifying the data that is relevant for your needs and enabling access to the required data. Web Scraping tools, however, are geared to help you address this need and leverage the benefit of this huge information repository.

Web Scraping and how it Works?
Web Scraping is the practice followed to extract data from relevant sources on the Web and transforming them into crucial information packages for use in your business. This is an automated process which is executed with the help of a host of intuitive Web Extraction tools, thus facilitating ease, accuracy and convenience in extracting vital data.

Scrapers also work by writing intelligent pieces of code that scour the web and extract data that you need for the benefit of your business. The languages used for coding these scrapers are Python, Ruby and PHP. The language you use will be determined by the community you have access to.

As mentioned earlier, the biggest challenge that web scraping is subjected to include the identification of the right URL, page and element in order to scrape out the required information. No matter how good you may be at coding scripts, no amount of that will help you achieve your objective if you fail to develop an understanding of the way the web is structured. It is this which will enable you to structure your code in a manner that will be the most effective in scraping the desired information.

Understanding a Web Site
A Web Site appears on your browser owing to two technologies. These include:
  • HTTP – The language used to communicate with the server for requesting the retrieval of resources, namely, images, videos, and documents and so on.
  • HTML – The language that helps to display the retrieved information on the browser.

The display format of your website is therefore defined using the HTML. It is within the folds of its syntax, that you will find the data which you need to extract. It is, therefore, important that you understand the anatomy of a web site by studying the structure of an HTML Page.

The HTML Page Structure
An HTML page comprises a stack of elements known as tags, each bearing a specific significance. The first among these being the header tags that comprises mostly all the elements within it. The table element, the most important so far as data containers are concerned, is a crucial element that you need to study. It comprises several table rows (TR) and table data (TD) elements that hold the vital data nuggets that you might need to train your scrapers to extract.

In addition to these, HTML pages comprise a series of other tags that act as vital data holders, namely, image tags (img src), hyperlinks (a href) and the div tags which essentially refer to a block of text.
The scraper code needs to be built around your understanding of the HTML elements. Knowing the elements will help you to understand the specific location where relevant data are stacked. This helps you to correctly define the code so as to enable the scraper to search and extract the right element in order to provide you with the most appropriate information.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Collect Targeted Data from Web Using Data Extractor Tools

The use of data to enhance your business prospects is a widely acknowledged fact. It is therefore very important that you have access to relevant data and not just any data in order to further your growth prospects. Utilizing the features and benefits of Web Scraper tools can help you achieve this goal effortlessly.

Customizing Web Extraction Tools for Your Business

The Internet is a maze of information repositories and identifying the right information from the right source may pose to be a major challenge. Moreover, data incorrectly sourced may result in erroneous analysis leading to a faulty strategy and slow growth for your business.  The risk is, however, considerably mitigated by employing Web extractor tools in your business processes and leveraging the advantages they provide. 

Web extraction tools are used for the singular task of extracting relevant unstructured data from specific web sites and providing business users with a set of structured useable data. They perform this vital task with the help of scripting languages like python, Ruby, or Java. The biggest advantage of utilizing Web extraction tools is its ability to be customized as per the business requirement. This is easily achieved by defining the specific seed list you wish to scrape in the crawler script. A Seed list is the series of URLs that you wish to scan in order to extract the relevant data.  Thus defined, the crawler will scan only the targeted URLs. Along with the Seed list you can also specify the following relevant information to customize the scraper tool and ensure that it delivers as per your requirement. These defining parameters include:

  • Define the number of pages you wish the scraper to crawl

  • Define the specific file types you want the scraper to crawl
  • Define the type of data you would like to extract
This ensures that you can launch a focused search for the specific type of data that you wish to extract and also defines the appropriate source you want the crawler to access.

Benefits of using Targeted Data 

Every business pertains to a specific domain. Its growth prospects, its revenue and its present standing are all defined by the demands and dynamics of that domain. Therefore, undertaking a study of its individual domain is one of the chief pre-requisites that your business must concentrate its efforts on in order to accelerate its growth. Moreover, through your business, you need to conduct a detailed analysis of competitive data in order to remain contextual in your specialized domain. Web Extractor tools have been equipped to understand this need and scrape pertinent data to foster growth patterns that strike the right chords. Some of the benefits leveraged from the extraction of targeted data include:

  • Updated financial information from competitor sites on stock prices and product prices helps you to estimate and launch competitive rates for your stocks and products
  • Studying market trends for a competitor’s products help you to position your product and plan your promotional campaigns effectively
  • Studying analytics of competitor websites will ensure that you are able to plan your web promotions in a far more effective way
  • Extracting data from blogs and websites that cater to your personal interests and hobby areas help you to build up your own knowledge repository which you can leverage to achieve benefits for your business as and when required.

Friday, 1 August 2014

How Simple Data Scraping Tools Make Marketing Simpler

Marketing, the art of popularizing or promoting your product and influencing prospective buyers, depends on a foolproof strategy in order to achieve success. The strategy should be defined using accurate knowledge. The accuracy of this knowledge can be authenticated from the credible information sources which are scraped with efficient web data extraction tools to extract the relevant data available on related and competitive sites. In order to leverage the benefits of web data scraping to help you draft an effective marketing strategy, it is recommended that you take a deeper look into its nuances.

The Role of Web Data Extraction in Designing Marketing Strategies

Every business wishes to ensure the maximum visibility of its products within its targeted customer base. Marketing dynamics revolve primarily around this aspect. As product visibility is possible primarily through promotions, therefore, organizations build their marketing strategies around promoting or increasing the awareness of their product or services using the contact details, like email ID, Website URL and so on, of their focused client base.

Client data, such as these, can be easily extracted from the Web using simple data scraping tools. These tools are designed to not only extract or scrape data, but also analyses, categorize and populate excel sheets to help you in using them effectively.

Uses of Data in Marketing

Data is a chief component in drafting marketing strategies. Lack of sufficient amount of accurate data about your competition will render you incapable of understanding how the industry is functioning. Without a proper idea about this crucial aspect, you will land up with unproductive and erroneous marketing plans. Let us take a look at some of the ways in which data scraping tools can help you in extracting correct data.

  • Intelligent Scraping tools are able to help you identify other competitors in your domain. The tools are used in scraping the organic search results by using a specific search term. This also helps you to understand the primary keywords and titles that are being used by others in your industry to design their websites and improve their rankings in search engines.
  • Data extraction tools are also useful in helping you extract a whole host of On-page elements about your competition’s website. The data extracted includes title tags, Meta description tags, Meta keywords tag, Heading tags, backlinks and even Facebook likes. These provide you with crucial inputs on your competitor’s website strategies. Thus providing you with the relevant directions as to how you can chart up your marketing plans. 
  • Email extractors are equally useful data scraping tools that help you to acquire the email information from various sources like web pages, HTML files or even text files. This helps you to build your business contacts for your marketing strategies. 
  • The most useful and productive service provided through extraction tools is that of Data mining. The utility of this service lies in the fact that it helps to transform extracted data into useful information by importing them into human-readable formats namely, MS excel, CSV, or HTML. This also indicates the basic difference between data parsing and data extraction. Where one makes data available for machine interpretation only, the other makes information available for use by the end-user.