Several think pieces have equated data to gold, and rightly so. Data is proving invaluable for businesses and individuals alike. Data enables companies to predict user behavior, enhance decision making, improve service delivery and products, create stellar marketing campaigns, and more. Similarly, consumers discover businesses and the quality of services/products by going through reviews – over 97% of consumers rely on feedback from other users to make informed decisions. Reviews are a form of data.
Given how important data has become, especially in the internet age, programs that collect this data have equally become prominent. In fact, they drive whole industries both directly and indirectly. Web crawlers are a prime example of these programs. That said, what is a web crawler?
What is a web crawler?
Also known as a spider, a web crawler is a bot that discovers web pages and websites by following links. Next, it goes through all the data contained in the web pages and collects prime data such as the meta description, words, web address, and more. Finally, the crawler stores these different forms of data in a database known as an index for future retrieval. It is noteworthy that these steps describe what we refer to as web crawling.
Web crawlers are central to the operations of search engines and online aggregator sites. Notably, search engines and aggregator sites are beneficial to companies. This, therefore, means that web crawling can greatly help your business. How so? Let’s find out.
3 ways web crawling can help your business
There are multiple ways web crawlers can help your business either directly or indirectly. Businesses that directly benefit from web crawlers include search engines, online aggregator sites, and online companies that offer SEO tools. At the same time, numerous other businesses can also draw many advantages from web crawlers. For example, they can benefit by simply using the services that online aggregator sites and SEO tools render.
That said, this article will focus on the 3 main ways web crawling can help your business. These include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Keeping track with emerging industry trends
- Competitor and price monitoring
Search engine optimization
Web crawlers are popularly associated with search engines. Through spiders, search engines discover newly updated content as well as recently uploaded web pages. Thus, for your website to be indexed, a necessary prerequisite before it can be ranked for relevance, it must be crawled by the search engine’s bot. Otherwise, search engines will not present it as part of the search engine results page’s (SERP) links.
Similarly, web crawlers help identify keywords. As stated, words are among the key data that spiders collect. These words are stored in indexes – each word is entered alongside the different web pages in which it is found. In this regard, these databases mirror textbooks’ indexes, which show various keywords along with the pages on which you can find them.
By agglomerating different words from various websites and web pages, the crawler helps the search engine to come up with keywords for each topic. Notably, web-based sites use keywords, along with other well-known or secret factors, to determine the relevance of websites. This means that your business should focus on integrating keywords into your SEO strategy to rank high on SERPs.
Tracking emerging industry trends
There are different types of online aggregator sites, including news and social aggregators. The former category denotes websites that discover recently uploaded web pages containing up-to-date news. They then compile news stories from disparate sources in a single location. Similarly, social aggregator sites collect data from social media platforms, conflating them in one place. Notably, these sites rely on web crawlers for their success.
You can use news and social aggregator sites to track new and emerging industry trends. In this way, you will be indirectly using web crawlers to gain insight into your market. At the same time, if your company operates news or social aggregator site, you will benefit significantly from the use of spiders.
Competitor and price monitoring
Shopping aggregators are another prime example of aggregator sites. These websites combine data from different online shopping platforms in one location. Shopping aggregators rely on web crawlers to identify, go through, collect, and index information contained in e-commerce sites’ web pages. They also discover new shopping platforms.
Shopping aggregators offer access to information such as product names/titles, descriptions, and prices. You can establish who your competitors are as well as how they have priced their products by simply using these sites. Simply, shopping aggregators simplify the process of competitor and price monitoring. And it is noteworthy that their capabilities are heavily reliant on the work of web crawlers.
While it is crucial to understand what is a web crawler, it is equally vital to underline how important this program is for businesses. This article has detailed 3 ways web crawling can help your business, both directly and indirectly. These include enabling you to craft a search engine optimization strategy, tracking emerging trends, and competitor and price monitoring.