Data is crucial to everyone — individuals, the government, and businesses. Businesses need data to make informed decisions and improve the way they work. When they pay attention to and work with data, they gain an edge over their competitors and experience tangible growth.
An excellent way for businesses to access data is web scraping. It means extracting data from websites using tools. This article covers Selenium Python web scraping: why businesses need web scraping, why Python is the most popular language for web scraping, and why Selenium is a popular web scraping tool.
Why Do Businesses Need Web Scraping?
Through web scraping, business owners or marketing teams can gain a wider understanding of market trends, their competitors, and consumer behavior. There are several benefits of web scraping; see some of them below.
Lead generation means interacting with or attracting a target customer. The goal of the lead generation process for new marketers is to let your name or business linger in their minds enough for them to gain an interest in you. The end goal is to win them over as customers.
With web scraping tools, you can filter your prospective customers from the crowd. You can scrape social media platforms, review or rating sites, ecommerce sites, or even survey responses.
With this data, you can concentrate your marketing efforts on the identified potential customers and move to the next phase. Web scraping improves your lead generation process and increases your chances of conversion.
Competitive analysis is the research and critical assessment/evaluation of one’s competitors. It is a technique in business that enables you to be aware of your competitors’ actions and develop strategies to emerge on top.
With web scraping, businesses can accumulate data about their competitors — how their product offerings are similar or different, their marketing strategy, and what people say about them.
Decision-makers can then analyze the data and develop ways to stand out in the market or industry.
Save Time and Cost
Imagine visiting all your competitor’s websites one after the other and manually collating the information you need. You might even have to employ multiple assistants or data analysts in a bid to make the process faster. That would be a waste of time and money, right?
Web scraping allows you to save the time and effort you would have spent performing data extraction and collation manually. With web scraping, you can even get data from different sites at the same time.
Also, it helps you reduce the cost of new hires. When you spend less time and money and still get increased results, your productivity index increases.
Deciding whether a new product update is necessary or worth it could be quite tasking. However, small businesses must consider web scraping to help reduce the stress involved. You can collate widely distributed customer reviews about your product with web scraping.
These reviews, when properly analyzed, will then help you decide what steps to take next and know what percentage of your customers are enjoying your product.
Python for Web Scraping
Python is a widely-known high-level programming language used for various purposes, including web scraping, software development, and testing, data analysis, machine learning, etc.
Python is popular among web scrapers for several reasons:
- It is easy to learn. Because of its simple and readable syntax, Python is easy to understand, even for beginners. That is helpful to find developers or code yourself.
- Python has various web-scraping-tailored libraries to help developers access data more seamlessly.
- Python has an active and large developer community. If your developers are stuck or experience some problems, there are available resources to help.
- You might do web scraping as a step in a data analysis project. Because of its versatility, Python is an ideal choice.
To get started with Python, you can download it from the official Python website.
Selenium: A Preferred Tool for Web Scraping
Selenium is an open-source framework that automates web browsers. It mimics human actions while interacting with websites. It is excellent for web scraping; it enables developers to harness programming for controlling web browsers.
With Selenium, you can perform many actions that would normally require a human user. Selenium comes with many benefits and features that make it popular among web scrapers.
2. Mimicking Human Interactions:
Selenium enables you to simulate user actions on websites, such as scrolling, filling out forms, clicking buttons, etc. When scraping a website that requires all these actions before you can access data, Selenium comes in handy.
3. Multiple-Browser Compatibility:
With Selenium, you can perform web scraping across multiple browsers without bothering about their peculiarities. Selenium is compatible with popular browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox.
4. Access to Numerous Resources:
Selenium, like Python, has a large community consistently churning out resources and tutorials. It is thus easier to learn, unblock, and troubleshoot while using Selenium.
5. Python-Selenium Integrations:
Selenium can be integrated with Python. So if you were already using Python, adding Selenium to it launches you into a limitless web scraping experience. You can write Python Selenium script to scrape both server-side and client-side rendered websites.
This article explained why web scraping is important for your business and the importance of Python and Selenium. To increase your reach and maximize profits as a business owner, you might need to engage in web scraping. Using Python and Selenium for this makes it even easier.
Web scraping comes with its own challenges. Some websites have put measures in place to prevent scraping activities. However, using a tool like ZenRows, an advanced Python web scraping API, helps to bypass this.