The Internet as we know today is a repository of information that can be accessed across geographical societies. In just over two decades, the Web has moved from a university curiosity to a fundamental research, marketing and communications vehicle that impinges upon the everyday life of most people in all over the world. It is accessed by over 16% of the population of the world spanning over 233 countries.
As the amount of information on the Web grows, that information becomes ever harder to keep track of and use. Compounding the matter is this information is spread over billions of Web pages, each with its own independent structure and format. So how do you find the information you're looking for in a useful format - and do it quickly and easily without breaking the bank?
Search Isn't Enough
Search engines are a big help, but they can do only part of the work, and they are hard-pressed to keep up with daily changes. For all the power of Google and its kin, all that search engines can do is locate information and point to it. They go only two or three levels deep into a Web site to find information and then return URLs. Search Engines cannot retrieve information from deep-web, information that is available only after filling in some sort of registration form and logging, and store it in a desirable format. In order to save the information in a desirable format or a particular application, after using the search engine to locate data, you still have to do the following tasks to capture the information you need:
· Scan the content until you find the information.
· Mark the information (usually by highlighting with a mouse).
· Switch to another application (such as a spreadsheet, database or word processor).
· Paste the information into that application.
Its not all copy and paste
Consider the scenario of a company is looking to build up an email marketing list of over 100,000 thousand names and email addresses from a public group. It will take up over 28 man-hours if the person manages to copy and paste the Name and Email in 1 second, translating to over $500 in wages only, not to mention the other costs associated with it. Time involved in copying a record is directly proportion to the number of fields of data that has to copy/pasted.
Is there any Alternative to copy-paste?
A better solution, especially for companies that are aiming to exploit a broad swath of data about markets or competitors available on the Internet, lies with usage of custom Web harvesting software and tools.
Web harvesting software automatically extracts information from the Web and picks up where search engines leave off, doing the work the search engine can't. Extraction tools automate the reading, the copying and pasting necessary to collect information for further use. The software mimics the human interaction with the website and gathers data in a manner as if the website is being browsed. Web Harvesting software only navigate the website to locate, filter and copy the required data at much higher speeds that is humanly possible. Advanced software even able to browse the website and gather data silently without leaving the footprints of access.