THE HISTORY OF WEB SCRAPING
Web Scraping or Data Crawling or Data Harvesting has been into the existence for as long as the Web itself. Although it is often associated with web content extraction, it has not always served this purpose. Initially, it was developed to automate complicated or painful tasks. The purpose behind commercial web scraping has always been to gain easy commercial advantages like competitor’s product prices, stealing leads, hijacking marketing campaigns, redirecting APIs, and the outright theft of content and data.
Web scraping is the method which helps to take or extract the content from a website with the intent of using it for purposes outside the direct control of the site owner. The first usage of web scraping was to link with testing frameworks. With the help of using tools such as Selenium, companies such as IP-Label have build products that enable web developers and web masters to monitor the performance of website on a daily basis.
Web scraping is akin to web indexing, the process by which search engines index web content. The difference is the robots.txt “rule”, which governs where bots may go on a site. Web indexers (“good bots”) follow the rules; web scrapers, on the other hand, simply steal whatever content they’ve been programmed to fetch – prices, promotions, offers, or information that would otherwise only be available to paid subscribers or authorized business partners.
Web crawlers visit web pages, acquire data, and discover new pages from the ‘seed’ pages. Though most people believe that Google was probably the first crawler to crawl the web in its entirety, web crawling as a technology has a rather long and interesting history behind it. Although the initial crawlers could only crawl the data, when modern day web crawlers are much smarter as they are capable of monitoring web applications for vulnerability and accessibility apart from web crawling.
Initially, the internet was even unsearchable. When there was no existence of any search engine, the internet was just a place of collection of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site in which users would navigate to find specific shared files. During that time, people created a specific automated program, known today as Web Crawler or Bot. It helps to find and organize distributed data available on the internet. This web crawler or bot fetches all pages which are available on the internet and then extract all the content into a database for indexing.
The first crawlers were developed for a much smaller web – about 1,00,000 web pages, but today some of the popular websites alone have millions of pages.
Eventually, with the help of search engine, the millions of web pages were added and it becomes the home of millions of web data in multiple forms, including audios, videos, images, and texts. It turns into an open data source.
Since the internet became a sea of data source which is easily searchable, people started to find it simple to extract any publically available data they want. But the problem occurred when some of the websites refused to give a download option, and copying data manually was obviously tedious and inefficient.
And that’s when Web Scraping method or word took birth. Web scraping is actually powered by bots/web crawlers that function the same way those used in search engines – Fetch and Copy. Web scraping focuses on extracting any specific data from the website whereas search engines often fetch most of the websites around the internet.
How X-Byte Has Observed a Rise of Web Scraping?
When the X-Byte took a baby step in the year of 2012 in web scraping industry, nobody was aware of the sector in spite of having huge demand of the data in the world. There was only some web scraping service provider companies who were fulfilling customer’s needs by delivering accurate data. Even though, the speed, accuracy, data maintenance were ignore by them. By establishing the mark in web scraping, X-Byte initiated their journey by scraping 3 Millions of web pages per month data from the web and delivering to customer.
Holding a strong performance, infrastructure, human power and leveraging the latest technologies, it was very difficult to stop X-Byte by delivering the user-centric services. Walking along with the latest tools and technology, year by year, X-Byte has improvised skills, techniques and speed. From extracting 3 Millions of web pages in 2012 to 100 Million of web pages in 2019, that’s how X-Byte has footprint their steps in the web scraping industry.
|Year||WebPages Crawled per Month|
Here are the most demanding domains that are crawled:
1. E-Commerce Websites
E-commerce platform is the biggest assets for any retailers or organization. It propels the retailers, sellers and distributors to boost the sales and revenue. When the web scraping is applied to any e-commerce platform, it opens the door for retailers by providing price monitoring and brand & reputation monitoring.
With price monitoring service, you can extract the price, catalogue, inventory levels, availability and get the efficient web data extraction services that leverage online information for your success.
By leveraging the brand monitoring services, you can monitor and collect the information from online to enable micro or macro level decision. Once you gather data with web scraping, you can have the data report of the product and can tweak their launch marketing campaign to enhance visibility.
2. Social Media Platforms
The trend of Social Media has grown very swiftly and has become an essential part of personal as well as professional life. Every organization is very active on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Thus, the web scraping industry has left its no stone unturned in social media.
Social Media Monitoring plays a vital role nowadays in the various industries. Social Media monitoring extracts the user’s emotions, their feelings, their thoughts, hashtags, and social media trends. This helps to monitor posts, send alerts, and analyze social media trends that can be helpful to you to create any strategy on social media. Thus, social media extraction or extracting data from social media websites has made social media data mining easy and business effective.
3. Travel Portals (Hotel and Flight Websites)
Travel portals like hotel and flight websites provide the information like hotel reviews, flight price, ratings. feedback, room availability and price, discounts, location, and etc. By extracting your competitor’s hotels review that will help you identify their weakness and strength which would enhance your marketing strategy.
Travel website data extraction is important as it helps grabbing the ever-expanding user generated content that travel & hospitality industry is interested for product/service reviews, feedback, complaints, brand monitoring, brand analysis, competitor analysis, trend watching and more.
4. Real Estate Websites & Job Portals
The leading real estate sites of the world are a treasure trove of valuable data. The database of any of popular real estate site might contain information on more than 100 million homes. These homes include the ones for sale, rent, or even ones not currently on the market. It helps owners, as well as customers, plan better by trying to estimate the prices of properties in the next one, five or even ten years.
The real estate websites have valid data information like – property details, buyer and seller details, agent information, property details, etc. This huge amount of data will surely help you take smart decision to generate maximize revenue.
Since the job portals have huge amount of data of employees or candidates, job listings and data feeds service is used to aggregate huge amounts of job postings and its related information from the job portals at one place. It gives you a notification and keep you updated with job listing alters through APIs and emails when job postings are listed and removed.
5. Other Websites
There are many other websites like news portals, classified, auction, search engines, online business directories, and so on also gives you the data of your wish. They also contain various types of data which might be used for multiple organizations.
The extracted data from various websites can be integrated into the business to achieve the future business goals and objectives.
What Will Be The Future of Web Scraping?
Data is the new oil in recent times. Many industries or organizations are hungry for data. Therefore, we extract the data from the internet, process and turn into actionable insights. The internet has become an ocean of data where more data is generated every second.
Now any organization or company are able to fetch the data they want with the help of web crawler/bot, API, standard libraries and crawling software, as long as it’s publically available on the web.
The demand for web data by companies increase day by day and that keeps driving the web scraping industry, bringing new markets, jobs, and business opportunities.
However, we can’t deny the fact that as far as there is an internet, the web scraping can never be faded. It’s still unpredictable and volatile at the moment, as to how web scraping and data crawling will take its shape in the market.
So in the end, there is no doubt that the internet and web scraping are and will always keep going along like this with each other in the foreseeable future.