15 Web Scraping Questions To Ask Before Writing Your Own Scraper
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Are you starting with a breakthrough business idea? Or looking to leverage your online store? Are you keeping an eye out for the up-and-coming trends in your industry? If the answer to any of these is yes, then web scraping could be a game-changer for you!
Web scraping is hardly a new trend. Whether you are into marketing, retail, sales, or e-commerce, web scraping can reveal a range of fresh insights if done correctly. However, scraping websites for data can be tricky. With website structures getting more complicated by the day and the advent of sophisticated anti-scraping mechanisms, manual web scraping has become obsolete.
So, how can one continue to use web scraping to one’s advantage? The answer is automation. We get it; building your customized web scraper can be nerve-wracking.
Here is a list of 15 web scraping questions that give you a clear picture of the challenges you might face:
1. Do you have the required technical expertise?
2. Do you have access to the right resources to harvest data effectively?
Web scraping typically involves specialized data extraction tools that are equipped to handle huge amounts of data. While some of these tools are open-sourced and free to use, you can expect more advanced features to come with a subscription.
3. Do you possess the infrastructure to avoid anti-scraping tools on websites?
Web designers employ a range of anti-scraping mechanisms to keep scrappers at bay. For instance, those annoying captcha codes are designed to filter scraping bots from accessing the information on websites. Luckily, it is possible to bypass these hurdles using specialized tools.
4. Do your systems have the resources to scale up?
Web scrapers can read thousands of web pages to gather comprehensive insights. However, the sheer volume of HTML pages can be overwhelming on the browser unless your system has sufficient bandwidth to support the web scraper.
5. Is the data to be scraped available publicly?
It is totally fine to scrape public information. In fact, several internet giants use web scraping to gain an edge over their competition. However, trouble begins when you scrape data that is not public. In many countries, scraping nonpublic data can attract heavy legal penalties.
6. Can your scraper file through different kinds of data?
Website designs are incredibly diverse. Hence, site information can be arranged in various formats, ranging from lists, tables to infographics. Now, a versatile web scraper should be able to overcome these roadblocks.
7. How would you deal with data quality issues on the website?
Consistent, high-grade data is critical for a successful web scraping campaign, particularly on a large scale. Sub-standard data sets are rather difficult to analyze efficiently and result in poor-quality insights. To ensure the best possible outcomes, a web scraper must be fine-tuned to detect and scrape good-quality data.
8. Can you build an effective data quality check system in the timeline?
Keeping tabs on the data quality in real-time while crawling can be challenging. It is even more tedious and time-consuming when scraping for data on a large scale. So, how do you keep up your quality standards and also stay on schedule? The answer would be incorporating a suitable quality management system that optimizes your data quality.
9. Can you extract all the data you need?
E-commerce sites like Amazon use back-end technologies to make the text on their websites harder to scrape. Bypassing these anti-scraping tools is not easy. But with the right tools at hand, a web scraper can power through these roadblocks.
10. Can your web scraper keep up with fluctuating web designs?
Web pages routinely change up their website layouts as an anti-scraping mechanism. This, along with changing user interfaces, often poses trouble for web crawlers. A web scraper must be able to detect these changes and adapt to them accordingly.
11. Can your scraper differentiate between public and private data?
User privacy laws are getting stricter by the day. Accessing sensitive private information can result in serious legal trouble, even if the data was available on a public forum. Web scrapers need to be carefully written to avoid breaching any privacy policies.
12. How would your web scraper deal with the permissions?
Most websites have in-built regulatory measures that restrict crawlers. In simple words, to scrape a web page, a crawler would have to submit a request to the website’s server. Overburdening the servers could result in the web crawler being blocked from viewing the site in the future.
13. How would your scraper deal with copyrighted data?
Collecting copyrighted information for commercial usage can lead to serious legal liabilities. To be on the safe side, care must be taken to adhere to usage agreements that are provided by most website handlers.
14. Is your data scraper up to the legal standards?
Data protection and privacy laws around the world are constantly evolving. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most stringent legislation that governs data collection related to individuals living in European countries. In several recent lawsuits, heavy fines were meted to organizations found in possession of private information from their users.
15. Is your data clean?
Web scraping is a double-edged sword for controversial content like cannabis, pornography, and explosives. Scraping data that reference these topics can land you in legal trouble, depending on the applicable regional laws.
Cut to the chase with Datahut
Datahut was founded by a group of data science experts who seek to revolutionize the way you seek and leverage web data. Datahut offers comprehensive data scraping solutions designed to bypass even the trickiest anti-scraping measure on target websites. Reach out to us to build web scrapers that are tailored to your business needs.