December 29, 2022
Have you been thinking about collecting data to improve your business or build a data product? Are you lost in thousands of data-collection tools without really knowing the difference between them? Are you confused about the legitimacy of web scraping in general?
You're most likely not the only one and we're here to answer all your questions. Welcome to the ultimate guide to web data collection.
What is website data collection?
Website data collection is the process of gathering data from public web sources, such as Crunchbase, Indeed, etc., and storing it in datasets. It's usually done by complex data scraping tools that are trained to beat the website's anti-scraping mechanisms.
Even though websites are developing new anti-scraping solutions, that doesn't mean that scraping is illegal, it depends. We believe that public web data is accessible to everyone. However, when it comes to non-public data collection, it's an entirely different topic, because this data is usually behind a registration wall, meaning that the only way to access it is if you become a member of the platform and probably need to consent to the terms & conditions of the website. In this article, we will focus on public web data collection and its use cases.
Web data collection methods
Mainly, there are three methods to collect data: qualitative data collection, data collection tools, and online tracking.
Qualitative data collection
Qualitative data collection is usually utilized by companies that want to directly engage their audience and extract data about very specific services or insights. For example, it could be in the form of surveys or interactive social media posts.
Qualitative data offers more unique insights in the sense that customers and users can enter their own subjective thoughts instead of selecting an answer from a predefined list. However, qualitative data analysis is more difficult and time-consuming if performed on a large scale.
Data collection tools
Probably the most common choice of web data collection is a data collection tool. Given the fact that in 2022, more than 1 trillion MB of data is created every single day, it's not a surprise that machine learning and web scraping tools are favored over the manual collection of third-party data.
So, what are your options here? Simply put, the best option is to rely on a data provider such as Coresignal.
Data collection is complicated not only because there's a lot of it and it's hard to bypass anti-scraping solutions. You also need to update the collected data quite frequently to always have accurate information. That's where collecting data gets repetitive and extremely time-consuming for businesses.
However, that's not a problem if you decide to go with Coresignal. We will take care of everything data-related and you will be able to focus on driving revenue instead of solving data collection problems and processes.
Why us, you may ask? Sure, there are many data providers out there. However, with us, you will get unprecedented data quality and refresh rates. You can rest assured that the data you receive is always fresh and ready to use. What's more, you will get a dedicated account manager who will always be there for you to solve any data-related problems and answer all your questions.
The best part? You're only one click away from potentially taking your business to the next level. Contact our sales team by clicking the button below and we will reach out to you to discuss your data needs and talk about how we can help you improve your business operations.
Stay ahead of the game with fresh web data
Coresignal's data helps companies achieve their goals
Online tracking is the best way to collect data from your customers. When a user enters your website, they usually leave a lot of data points, especially if they're interested in your products or services, and register for a newsletter. The data collected from your customers can vary from demographic information to email and phone numbers.
However, it can also help you track the performance of your web pages. You can monitor website traffic, analyze bounce rates, see the best-performing sites, discover if you attract more users from laptops or mobile devices, and more.
Data collection tools vs collecting data on your own
As briefly mentioned before, web scraping tools are much faster and more efficient than collecting data on your own. However, there are some cases where it's more beneficial to collect data on your own.
One of those cases is if you only need a relatively small amount of data and you don't need to update it constantly. Let's say you only want to see how many tech companies there are in your city right now and it doesn't matter to you if that number changes next year. In this case, it's not worth paying a fortune for an entire dataset or a scraping tool.
However, if you need refreshed data every month for useful insights, then it's much more cost-effective to buy datasets from providers or employ data collection tools.
How do businesses use collected data?
It depends on the business, but collected data, or scraped data, can be used in a wide variety of ways.
For example, if you're an investor, you can use firmographic data to generate a list of companies for a competitive advantage. You could extract a list of startups from the entire dataset based on your preferences. Let's say you're interested in startups that were founded in 2021, are located in San Francisco, and have less than 50 employees. You can simply filter the database based on those parameters.
If you're in the HR platform business, you can use employee data to improve talent sourcing and talent intelligence. The more profiles you have, the better the chance that you will be able to provide the best-fit candidate to your client. Also, you can use employee data along with job posting data to conduct market research and uncover certain trends in the job market.
In short, there are as many use cases as your imagination and business direction allow. If you want to discuss your particular use case, contact our sales team by clicking the button in the upper-right corner of the window.
Web data collection best practices
There are several things to keep in mind when preparing to collect data: have a clear goal, establish data pipelines and storage places, decide on a collection method, and evaluate the data.
Have a clear goal
Before collecting third-party data, you must have clear definitions of what you're looking for. This way, you can train the algorithm to only collect relevant data that will help your business objectives. First and foremost, you need to identify whether you need qualitative or quantitative data. After that, you can delve a little deeper and make more advanced modifications.
Establish data pipelines and storage places
A data pipeline is imperative because it will enable the movement of new data from the source to the destination. At the same time, you need to think about the data warehouse, data lakes, or other storage options where the scraped data will be stored.
Decide on a collection method
The collection methods range from public crowdsourcing to web scraping. You need to identify your data needs and decide on the collection method that will bring you the most value.
If you need internal data, you will probably benefit the most from collecting and analyzing customer data that's abundant in your internal business databases from all of the users’ website activity.
If you need external data, you will most likely find useful data in public web sources, such as social media platforms and business websites.
Evaluate the data
After collecting the data, you will need to evaluate its quality and legitimacy to ensure a successful artificial intelligence or machine learning model. Here are the most important things you need to check:
- Evaluate its tangibility. One option to do that is to analyze a small subset of the data and see the frequency of errors.
- Evaluate data transfer processes. Check if there are any technical issues and what impact they have on the transfer process. Also, see if there are any duplicates and server errors.
- Evaluate data completeness. Check if any of the data was not collected and whether it's important to your goals. Also, see if the algorithm didn't develop a bias towards one side. If you're scraping qualitative data, there should be both good and bad reviews, for example.
Web data collection is a process that allows businesses to leverage data to improve business decisions. However, it’s important to always keep the data fresh and accurate. It’s one thing to collect some data once, and another to always keep it updated.
In short, you should establish your business goals, align them with your data needs, get the data either yourself or from a provider, and leverage it to reach those goals. We've also prepared a guide that explains how to prepare for working with web data if you need some expert guidance.
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