There is no shortage of SEO advice out there. A lot of the same tips get repeated over and over: optimize content, build backlinks, and make guest blogging and collaboration a priority.
While these strategies hold true, there are other faster and more effective ways to accomplish the work required to increase search engine results.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the process of extracting data from a website efficiently and automatically and subsequently exploring that data into a format to be analyzed. It’s the equivalent of a person browsing every single page of a website, writing down all the information, copying it, and extracting out the desired parts.
Essentially, it’s turning multiple websites full of content into a spreadsheet people can use to review the information, filter, and sort, and then use a basis for data-driven decisions. This process is precisely what Google is doing with people’s websites: extracting data to determine where someone’s website content should rank compared to others.
In SEO strategies, web scraping can be used in several ways: to leverage competitor data, get research done faster and more efficiently, and discover new opportunities to rank for content.
Leverage Competitor Data
Researching competitors is a regular part of most digital marketing strategies. While it’s best to focus on one’s own goals and priorities, understanding what others in the industry or market are doing to reach new audiences, attract customers, and retain loyal buyers can be helpful.
Web scraping can help make gathering competitor data more efficient and effective. For example, instead of manually researching keywords that competitors are using, web scraping makes this process lightning fast. In addition, once someone extracts the data, a thorough keyword analysis and performance metrics are easy to perform.
Get SEO Research Done More Efficiently
SEO work is often time-consuming and, depending on the size of the business, can get pushed to the end of the to-do list to make time for higher priorities. Web scraping eliminates much of the time required to collect the data and organize it into a system where a person can evaluate its usefulness.
And, with valuable data and great timing, SEO efforts yield a higher rate of return. For instance, if someone has an eCommerce shop and is considering adding a suite of new products, the required research is likely overwhelming.
However, with web scraping, this research process becomes quite simple. For example, if a competitor is selling several different products within the desired (or planned) category, data gleaned from web scraping helps identify their best sellers, see all of the pricing at a glance, and understand customer behaviors in the space.
Uncover New Opportunities to Rank
Sometimes within the process of SEO research, business leaders discover that their website is ranking for content outside of their own keyword goals or priorities. For example, Buffer recently stated in an Animalz podcast episode that their website ranked for multiple terms they were not targeting and was much lower in the rankings for “content marketing” than they had hoped.
Initially, this can be discouraging, but it’s actually an opportunity to find new strategies for ranking high and bringing in new audiences. Then, once that audience finds value in the content, people can gently lead them to the area of their website where they’d like them to spend time (and convert, eventually).
Web scraping is helpful in this pursuit. By scraping the sites of others in the industry, people can see their content results at a glance and what their audiences tend to read the most. They can also analyze their backlinks, discover new potential sources for themselves.
Last but not least, they can also quickly scan for guest bloggers and comments who may be interested in contributing to the website.
Web scraping, when done ethically, proves to be a valuable asset in the digital marketing space, especially when it comes to SEO work. For people new to the idea, start small by performing some basic scraping with a few competitor sites to understand the volume and type of information to extract.