Extensive market research is essential for any business. The data collected provides insight into market trends and consumer needs. You can gain a deeper understanding of your competitors and relevant technological changes. With this information, you can then make better decisions, maintain profitability, and capture new markets.
Although you can collect data manually through the copy and paste method, successful businesses carry out market research through a technique known as web scraping. Effective web scraping requires two main tools – a proxy and a web scraping tool.
Let’s have a look at the two terms.
What are Proxies?
Every time you make a web request, the web page you are sourcing information identifies your device using an IP address and it enables it to return the information requested back to your device. An IP is a label that identifies your device when connected to the internet. It takes the form of a number.
Your IP makes it easy to track your browsing history and location. It compromises your privacy, but this is why we have proxies.
Proxies act as an intermediary between your computer and the web request you are making. Rather than make the web request from your computer directly to the web server, a proxy makes the request on your behalf.
The web server will then read the proxy instead of your real IP address. The response from the webserver then goes to the proxy first and finally to your computer.
Proxies can be shared, dedicated, or semi-dedicated.
A shared proxy is where multiple users share a proxy and its cost. Though cheap, it comes with a high risk of detection and slow speed during peak hours.
A dedicated proxy is where a single user has a private proxy. It provides high levels of anonymity and excellent performance.
Only a few users share semi-dedicated proxies. They are an improvement from shared proxies but lack the full privacy of dedicated proxies.
We will look at two kinds of proxies.
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Data Center Proxies
These are proxies that do not rely on an internet service provider (ISP) to operate. They are created in data centers. It means that linking your IP address to one geographical location is not possible. Datacenter proxies provide high levels of speed and anonymity. However, they tend to be similar in nature and thus easily detectable.
Residential proxies use the IP address of real existing devices and are attached to a physical location. It gives them the appearance of an authentic user. Residential proxies provide high levels of anonymity. For this reason, these proxies are the hardest to detect.
Web Scraping Tools
Web scraping is the process of gathering data from specific web pages. Web scraping tools are the software that collect these information from the internet automatically.
The scraping software connects directly to the web HTP or browser. The web scraping tool fetches the web page, parses its content, searches for the data you need within the web page, and converts it into the format specified. It then stores these data in a spreadsheet.
To properly carry out the web scraping procedure, you need an undetectable proxy and an efficient web scraping tool. A good proxy will prevent your web scraping tool from being easily detected and gives you access to geo-blocked websites.
The Benefits of Web Scraping to Your Business:
Here are five benefits we scraping can have for your business:
1) Saves Resources
There is tons of important information on the internet that can be helpful to a business. Collecting this data manually requires a lot of human resources, which comes at a high cost. By using a web crawler, the data collection process will be accurate. There will be no need to hire additional staff. All you need is to invest in the right scraper.
2) Gets Things Done Fast
Picture having to collect copy relevant data from the internet and paste it to your excel sheet. It would consume so much time. And this time could be put to other important tasks that require reasoning and decision making. Web scraping is a repetitive process and automating it will take a fraction of the time human efforts would take.
3) There is Less Risk of Experiencing Bans
Most websites will ban IP addresses that display suspicious activities on their site. By manually collecting data from sites, you remain easily detectable. And getting blocked while work is in progress can be frustrating. By using rotating proxies and a web scraping tool, all your visits to websites will register as organic traffic.
4) You Get to Know Your Competitors
You can only stay ahead of your competitors if you know what they are up to. And this is only possible through the real-time collection of data on their websites. Web scraping enables you to know of new product launches, price changes, and changes in a competitor’s strategy that is a risk to your market share. And using this information, you can make better business decisions.
5) Price Optimization
A common problem among most businesses is setting the right price that attracts customers, without losing revenue. This is only possible through price scraping. You can track the prices of the goods similar to yours through e-commerce websites in real-time using a web crawler. Using the data collected, you can set your prices below baseline prices without undervaluing your products.
Web scraping is essential for every business. Unlike manually collecting data from the internet, a scraper is accurate and fast. It also reduces the number of people you will need to hire for your market research project. The data collected will enable you to make better pricing decisions and develop better strategies to combat the competition.
Ensure that you get a private proxy server from a legitimate vendor, it will keep you from getting banned from sites, and you can access blocked websites. A data center proxy will be quick, while a residential proxy will be harder to detect. The quality of the scraping tool is equally important.