Whether you’re a salesperson or analyst, there is no dispute that having the right set of data to work with is crucial. The right data set serves as a starting point for applications such as price analysis, leads generation, sentiment analysis, competitor monitoring and more.

Start by defining a few key objectives:

  • What scale of data is needed?
  • Is this a one-off or recurring task?
  • What is the complexity of scrapping?

Your scraping needs will aid in deciding how to go about the data extraction process.

After you’ve got the what, where and when done, it’s time to figure out how.

There are plenty of options to get your scrapping done. Essentially, two broad categories.

  • The DIY approach
  • Data/ Software as a Service

The DIY Approach

Assuming you’re not a one-man show and you have a competent tech team, you could build your own scrapper using available frameworks such as:

  • Scrapy
  • Beautiful soup
  • Pyspider

Benefits

  • Full control over the data extraction
  • Ownership of the source code

Drawbacks

  • Lack of technical knowledge could be a real pain
  • Could be much more costly in terms of efficiency
  • Requires time to customize to your specific needs

As you scale, you’d probably need to hire a full-time developer to monitor and manage the data extraction. Furthermore, when it comes to scrapping complex websites such as LinkedIn, more supplementary features would need to be integrated. For instance, bypassing rate-limiters or captchas. Increasingly complex scraping would entail more time, effort and cost.

That being said, if your team is small and code-illiterate, this is highly NOT recommended. It is likely that the sheer amount of time and effort needed could be better invested in other avenues. Figuring out how to get things up and running, running maintenance, troubleshooting, and going through FAQs or forums choked to the brim with coding jargon will eventually be the death of you. You probably won’t even know what you’re doing right or wrong.

Data/ Software as a Service

This is a more viable option if you’re more interested in using data rather than extracting and managing it. The main cost involved would be the fee charged. It’s important to remember that you’re typically going get what you pay for and note what features and limitations there are. This is important if you wish to have a more advanced scraper, such as a LinkedIn scraper or facebook scraper. Here follows some web scrapping tools.

  1. Proxycurl

In a nutshell: If you need data at scale, fuss-free, Proxycurl’s got you. Both one-off scrapes and recurring plans are available. This crawler is able to scrape popular websites such as Linkedin or Amazon as real users and bypass captcha. Websites realize the value of data and do not wish to give it away for free, which is why some have imposed restrictions to prevent web scraping. Proxycurl already has mechanisms built-in place to handle these blockades such as login gates, rate limiters, captcha. It rotates between 150,000 worldwide residential IP addresses to ensure blocking protocols will not be a hindrance. Other crawlers and scrapers typically use a mix of residential and data center IP addresses, which slow down the extraction process.

2. Fiverr

For one-time, small scale scrapping, you could consider hiring a freelancer. Of course, this comes with all the associated risks. For instance, credibility, quality and time taken. One option is to search for these services on Fiverr. Amongst services such as original music and ghostwriting, this marketplace for freelancers also offers a handful of web scraping services. Remember to check the seller’s reviews to make an assessment of credibility beforehand!

3. Scrapestorm

Scrapestorm is an AI-powered visual website scraper that does not require any coding knowledge. It has its own library of video tutorials, guides, and FAQs. You would have to invest an amount of time and effort to learn how to set up, navigate the software and troubleshoot. This is definitely doable with enough time but could be confusing to someone who has zero web-scrapping knowledge.

4. Tryspider

Marketed as a point-and-click web scraping tool for beginners. Tryspider works as a browser extension. Its user interface is clean, simple and strives to make things as intuitive as possible. However, if you’re looking to fully automate your data extraction process, do note that there are some shortcomings. For instance, you cannot scrape in. This means that you cannot automatically scrape a product detail page from the product list page. You’d also have to manually click the next button while scraping paginated results.

Benefits:

  • Get your data fuss-free
  • No resources required
  • Pay for what you get

Drawbacks:

  • No control over the actual extraction process.

Conclusion

Once you have figured out exactly what you want, weigh your options to make the most informed choice possible. If you lack the programming expertise, it is likely to be more cost-efficient to have your data extraction process outsourced. By doing so, you could focus on what truly matters to your business: applying and synthesizing the data. The DIY approach is like ordering car parts online and building it. Contracting data/software as a service, on the other hand, is kind of like ordering an Uber. Relatively more fuss-free.

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Good luck!