There is hardly any field in the business world where web scraping does not have an influence. According to the objectives and use cases, companies decide what data is required. For example, if you are searching for potential leads, you can extract contact information of businesses in yellow pages. What are the benefits of web scraping yellow pages? How to scrape yellow pages? In this article, we will not only answer these questions but also indicate the basics of building a yellow pages scraper.
- What is a yellow pages scraper?
- Building a yellow pages scraper
- Proxies for web scraping yellow pages
- Choosing yellow pages scraper
Before we dig deeper into building yellow pages scraper, let’s figure out some essential definitions.
What are yellow pages?
Yellow pages stands for a print directory of telephone numbers and advertisements for companies and organizations in a specific area. The information is grouped based on the type of business and services.
When the internet began to take over all markets, most yellow pages publishers attempted to create online versions of their print directories. These online versions are referred to as Internet Yellow Pages (IYP). The advantage of internet yellow pages compared to printed yellow pages is that the first one can be updated in real-time, so you get the latest and relevant information.
What kind of information can you get from yellow pages?
As a business, for you to achieve your sales goals, you need to generate leads. From yellow pages, you can extract information such as business name, phone number, state, postal code, email address, website, and even a business description. This is all the necessary information in case you need to contact a potential client. Every country has a yellow pages website where you can find information about the company you are interested in.
What is a yellow pages scraper?
To begin with, let’s discuss a definition of a web scraper itself. A web scraper is a tool that gathers data from various websites. A web scraper is used to identify the HTML data and convert it into a readable format. It is an ultimate solution for businesses or data analysts that need to extract vast amounts of required information from the web.
So now, as you understand the general meaning of web scraper, yellow pages scraper is a tool, which is specifically built to scrape yellow pages. Yellow pages scraper is intended to search and extract precisely yellow pages data such as location, contact information, etc.
Building a yellow pages scraper
When a web scraper is used as a data-gathering method, it contains a workflow which consists of such elements:
- Developing data extraction scripts. This step requires specific coding knowledge. The most popular coding language among developers for data extraction scripts is Python.
- The additional tool used to scrape data is headless browsers because you can provide automated control of web pages. A headless browser can access web pages and pipe the content of the web pages to another program, click on links, and much more. Nothing will appear for users, so it will not trigger any internet activities.
- Data parsing is the process of making the required data usable. In simple words, most results returned from web scraping can be hard to understand for a human eye. Data parsing allows you to sort data by searching for specific parts in HTML files.
- Data storage. This is the final element in the entire web scraper building process.
What is a scraping path?
Before beginning web scraping, you should have a list of URLs from which you want to extract data. You need to prepare a scraping path, which is the library of URLs where your required information is stored.
If you are interested in building your own web scraper, check out a blog post by our Content Manager Adomas. He covers each step of building a web scraper process in detail and provides more information about what is web scraping used for.
Proxies for web scraping yellow pages
In general, proxies are used in web scraping tasks to avoid IP address blocks from target servers. When web scraping at scale, the targeted web servers receive plenty of requests. Web scraping can be detected as suspicious activity and your IP address gets blocked. This is why proxies are inseparable from web scraping.
Here is an infographic for better visualization, explaining the main proxy management challenges and solutions:
There are two main types of proxies: residential proxies and datacenter proxies. Both of these proxies guarantee 100% anonymity and provide different IP addresses from all around the world, but you should note the differences between them.
Residential proxies are IP addresses supported by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). They are real IP addresses attached to a physical location. Residential proxies guarantee low block-rate, so you can extract all the data you need.
Datacenter proxies usually come from cloud service providers. They are not affiliated with an Internet Service Provider. So, the main difference between residential and datacenter proxies is their origin.
If you seek to harvest data in large quantities, it is best to use residential proxies as it doesn’t leave a footprint and you can be calm, that it will not trigger any blocking alarms. If you still can not decide which proxy type to choose, residential proxies, or datacenter proxies, check out our other blog posts for more information.
Choosing yellow pages scraper
As you now understand, building your own yellow pages scraper requires time and specific coding knowledge. Also, extracting large amounts of data could be a challenge for smaller companies because it requires extra resources. Companies would need a certain team to create web scrapers and oversee the entire data gathering process. You can always think of outsourcing web scraping tool from reliable providers. for example, Oxylabs has to offer the Real-Time Crawler. It is a data collection tool that ensures 100% delivery from e-commerce websites or search engines. If you are interested, watch this video to get more information:
To sum up, for your business needs, from yellow pages, you can extract all sorts of required data, including contacts, addresses, postal codes, websites, business descriptions, etc. This information is essential, for example, to contact a potential client. Of course, you can also use this data according to your company’s demands.
You can build your own yellow pages scraper by following these steps: developing data extraction scripts, setting up headless browsers, taking care of data parsing, and data storage. Or, to make your job easier, you can choose web scraping tools from reliable providers. For any web scraping, you will also need to select the right proxies.