Have you ever heard of data parsing or web scraping? Well if not, you are in for a treat. Data parsing and web scraping is beneficial to many aspects of your business. The data gathered can influence business decisions such as marketing, finances, and future business investments.

Web scraping is a way of collecting public information from the web. Businesses that want to stay competitive use these methods of information gathering to evaluate their pricing intelligence, gather new leads, monitor the market, and more.

If you decide to start using web scraping tools to gather data, you need to understand another important aspect of the process, data parsing. Data parsing is an important part of web scraping. Why? Because the data is easy to access and collect. It is, after all, public information. Parsing collected data is important so that it can be converted to a format, such as excel, that can be analyzed. However, there are also parsing errors that can occur, and you have to understand why these parsing errors happen and how to fix them.

Web Scrapers Make a Difference

Web scrapers can be available for free, like Octoparse, or at cost like Smart Scraper. These are the software that collects the information. Each scraper comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some are designed for more savvy users who are comfortable coding. Some use Python and others use Node.js. Whereas some have been built for novices who have no programming experience.

The scrapers that require some coding skills can be the most helpful for users as they allow a high level of customization. Customization allows users to get the most out of their trawling. But once you have the data? Now what? The data gathered has to be compiled into a single format where the user can analyze and reference the information. That is where the data parser comes in.

What Is Data Parsing?

Data parsing is the way the information from web scraping is sorted and analyzed. A good parser helps the user find relevant and important information which may be hidden behind complicated web code, embedded in the HTML source. This parser not only finds the relevant information but presents it in a way that is easy for a human user to read and access. This makes the task of using that data easier. Many existing web scrapers have built-in data parsers to make the tool as simple as possible to use. However, if you build your own web scraper, you might need to consider getting a web parser or building one yourself.

Working on a Data Parser

Data parsers operate like translators. They take one kind of data, in a particular format, and transform it into another type of data that is ready for human consumption. There are many examples of data parsers, but the question for most companies is usually whether or not to buy one or build one in-house.

There are costs and benefits to both options. Building your own parser can be good for meeting your specific needs. They are simple enough to construct with open source code available and cost less than buying an existing tool. However, buying a parser would likely work best for the widest variety of websites.

Whatever choice you make it is important to remember that maintenance is required. It will also be important to use a server fast enough to assist in the parsing of data. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Building your own, you have to have a highly skilled developer team in-house. Outside that, you have to be willing to pay a premium for a high-quality parser.

Parsing Errors

If the parser is built in-house, getting it the right can be challenging. Programmers may inadvertently introduce syntax errors, also known as parsing errors, into the code which would then lead to problems down the line. Parsing errors prevent the user from using the information acquired through web scraping. A good compiler for your coding program can help identify errors in syntax before they become active. This type of error is just a mistake in coding, whether the code is Python or Node.js. Avoiding them is a good thing, but understanding why they sometimes happen is critical in overcoming them.

What Is a Proxy and Why Use One?

Proxy servers are the devices that stand between the internet and a PC, or the internet and a corporate network. Proxies are used for all sorts of things, including masking the location of the user. This keeps the user, whether that person is an individual or a corporation, anonymous (which is great for security).

If you make use of web scraping for your business, it is a good idea to use a proxy with your chosen scraping tool. This is because a proxy hides your IP address and keeps you secure while online. Proxies can also help you bypass any geo-restrictions while harvesting data from different countries. A residential proxy that is linked to a real IP address is also a great way to avoid being banned from websites you are trying to scrape. This means that you can scrape more data which leads to more accurate information that can be used.

Data is Gold

When it comes to scaling and growing your business, web scraping is the way of the future. Sometimes, the most innocuous data can be extremely beneficial to the company able to capitalize on that information. The only way to get that data is to get out there and collect it. Fortunately, with web scraping, data parsing tools, and proxies, the process is simpler than ever before.