Understanding your competitors gives you a huge competitive advantage in the data-driven age. Getting and analyzing large amounts of data from your competitors’ websites with web scraping is automatic – giving you key insights in return. Here is a step-by-step guide to extracting competitor data using web scraping:
Step 1: Identify Competitors and Data Points of Interest
First, find out your main competitors who are in the market. Put their websites on a list and start prioritizing those from which you want to extract data. Next, go through their website and pull data points that would be valuable to come up with, such as:
- Product descriptions and pricing
- Customer reviews
- Service offerings
- Company information like address and phone numbers
- Job listings
- Blog content and SEO keywords
- Social media followers and engagement
Prioritize the most important data points to focus your web scraping efforts.
Step 2: Inspect Website Elements Using Browser Tools
Next, you must understand how the data you want is structured on the page. Use browser developer tools like Chrome DevTools to inspect elements on the website.
Check the underlying HTML code and identify patterns for displaying the data. Consider elements like product listings, review sections, and blog posts. This will help you locate the right elements to target when extracting data.
Step 3: Use a Web Scraping Service
Now it’s time to use a web scraping service to automate competitor data collection. There are many web scraping tools and data extraction services available. When choosing one, consider factors like:
- Ability to handle complex sites
- Customization and flexibility
- Scalability for large datasets
- Data output options like API, CSV, etc.
A managed data extraction service in the USA like Relu Consultancy can be a great option since they handle your technical work and customizations.
Step 4: Create a Scraping Workflow
Once you’ve chosen a web scraping tool, you can work on setting up the data extraction workflow. Most services provide options to configure scrapers visually without coding. You’ll identify the elements to extract data from based on the inspection done earlier.
Set filters to scrape only the data types you need. You may need to incorporate scrolling, clicks, delays, and other actions to access data for dynamic websites. Configure the scraper to scrape multi-page listings recursively.
Step 5: Schedule and Automate the Scraper
Instead of a one-time scrape, you’ll want to collect updated data from competitor sites continuously over time. Most web scraping tools allow you to schedule and automate scrapers to run on a recurring basis.
You can have scrapers run daily, weekly, or at other intervals to get fresh data. The scraped data can be exported directly to databases, cloud storage, spreadsheets, or through API integrations. This enables fully automated scraping workflows.
Step 6: Analyze and Visualize Extracted Data
Now the exciting part – using the extracted competitor data for insights! You’ll want to analyze and visualize the structured data to uncover trends, gaps, and opportunities for your business.
Some ideas include:
- Product/pricing gap analysis – are you offering competitive prices?
- SEO keyword tracking – what keywords are competitors targeting?
- Review sentiment analysis – how does feedback compare?
- Competitor growth tracking – how fast are they acquiring customers?
Advanced analytics can take competitor intelligence to the next level. The insights gained from properly utilizing scraped data can help shape your marketing, product, and operational strategies.
Step 7: Monitor and Refine the Scraper Over Time
Websites frequently change their structure and design. This can break scrapers that are not maintained over time. Monitoring your scrapers regularly is important to check if they still function correctly and extract complete data.
When errors occur, the scraping workflow needs to be quickly corrected. This may involve tweaking selector elements, handling new page layouts, or accounting for other changes. A managed scraping service will take care of these revisions for you. Continuously monitoring and refining scrapers is key to sustaining competitor data pipelines.
Implementing an automated web scraping workflow for competitor intelligence gives you an edge. Following the steps outlined in this guide will help you successfully extract and leverage competitor data to make savvier business decisions. With the right approach, web scraping can be a valuable competitive analysis tool.
As a leading data extraction company, Relu Consultancy has extensive experience developing custom scrapers to deliver competitor insights at scale. Contact us today if you need help creating scrapers or analyzing scraped data!