The exponential growth of the internet and information technologies have created a massive digital world that has no choice but to merge and intertwine with the lives of most humans on the planet. From smartphones to smart homes and even towns, the reliance on technology brings unprecedented levels of convenience and efficiency. The foundation and fuel that helps us create and develop these tools is information.
Information is a unique fuel that is necessary for progress. In the past, collected data assisted the evolution of your society when nowadays basic knowledge became available to a wider range of talented individuals. Today, we need the information to not only improve ourselves but also teach our machines and software to maximize their efficiency and push technology to the next level.
Because a lot of our traditional processes – from shopping to communication, have their efficient alternatives in the digital world, data collection tasks have become extremely useful and even necessary aid for many business operations and personal projects. Today companies face a very unique problem – when everyone has access to so much public information, those that have the best approach to efficient data extraction will reap the most benefits and outperform the competition.
In this article, we will address the ways a tech enthusiast can build proficiency in web scraping and data analytics in general. We will talk about introductory skills you might need and helpful tools like a proxy generator to aid you in these operations. If you are already familiar with web scraping and in need of assistance in enhancing your data extraction tasks, click here. We will also focus on the ways an ambitious data scientist can utilize new skills in freelancing.
Why do businesses need web scraping?
Some older businesses have a faithful client base and manage to stay afloat, but everyone has ambitions to modernize and grow. One company might not need as much information because its goal is to perfect the quality of its product. Such businesses do not want or can’t divert a portion of their resources for hiring data scientists or data analytics teams.
Even small companies need data all the time and young programmers that cannot decide which field to pursue can find their calling in data scraping. Once they build enough experience to charge at their first paid tasks, Fiverr and Upwork are popular websites that can be great starting points, and then these tech enthusiasts can further implement their skills to scrape leads and automate outreach.
How to start learning web scraping
While you can find different coding languages to perform your scraping tasks, Python will give you the easiest starting point. Simple syntax and an enormous amount of educational sources are crucial factors that help beginners build sufficient skills to get into web scraping. With free and open-source frameworks, you can perform simple data extraction tasks. However, you do not have to be an experienced coder to benefit from information collection: some use tools like ParseHub, Octoparse, and ScrapeBox.
Just like with most programming niches, the best web scraping lessons come from experience. We encourage beginners to find a project related to their interests and hobbies and how data collection can help them use data to deepen their understanding or enjoy the accuracy and visualization of information. You can start attempts at extracting data or analyze similar projects from other enthusiasts.
When you move to serious tasks that can be profitable, you will target websites that have valuable public data and do not want to share it. Most owners want to maximize real user engagement. Web scrapers send a lot more connection requests to a server – that is why they are so efficient. This makes them more visible than authentic users, and that is a quick and easy way to get your IP address banned.
Experienced data analysts keep their web scrapers operational by implementing proxy servers into the equation. With a proxy generator, you can target your data extraction connections through an intermediary server. Reliable proxy providers often work with business owners because they depend on protecting their IP addresses from competitors and other third parties. Learning to use a proxy generator for web scrapers is as necessary as oil for engines.
Understanding data parsing
While web scraping is a relatively simple step, and the tasks can be multiplied and even automated, data parsing is a thorn up the side for every data scientist. To avoid extra work, some companies avoid building their own parsers. While web scrapers are much faster at extracting data, our mind is much better at multitasking and turning this information into knowledge. Information collected by scrapers initially exists in a code written for browsers, but no one parser can dissect different data into an understandable format.
Even if you have a functional parser, if a competitor that you continuously target makes changes to their website, that will mess up your data extraction process. Make sure to invest time to learn more about parsing – if you find yourself working in data analytics, you will most likely need to utilize these skills for repetitive tasks.
If becoming a data analyst is not your main goal, learning about web scraping and related skills can aid you in many aspects of your life. By being a freelance techie, you can utilize them to generate additional income and diversify your work. Learn to collect data to make a profit!