To sign up for our daily email newsletter, CLICK HERE
Good search engine optimization, or SEO as you’ll usually just hear it called, is essential for any website that wants to be visible on the internet. And if you’re running any kind of an online business, that definitely includes your website. The search engines, especially Google, control who sees what, so if you aren’t in the search results, or even if you aren’t in the first page or two, you’re nowhere.
There are plenty of great tools that you can use for your digital marketing and SEO, but you won’t often hear web scraping mentioned as one of them. Web scraping sometimes gets a bad rap, but it is used by companies all around the world for lots of different purposes, from monitoring prices on Amazon to tracking down human traffickers. It’s a versatile tool and it can even help with SEO.
Web scraping and SEO
There’s not much magic behind web scraping. It’s basically just the use of software to automatically visit web pages and extract data from them. You could do it manually, but you’re not a computer, so it would take you hundreds of years to do what a bot can do in seconds. Computers are great at doing repetitive tasks fast and efficiently. But how can web scraping help you with your SEO?
Scrape Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
Google Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs, are your gateway to getting noticed on the internet. If you rank high on Google for relevant search terms, your website will get the traffic it needs. But Google doesn’t provide an official API (application programming interface) for its search engine, so it can be tricky to get the right data and learn how you – or your competitors – are performing.
Using a free ready-made tool like Apify’s Google Search Results Scraper will give you the SERP API that you need. By just changing a few simple settings you can scrape search results and extract information that you can then analyze. The scraper enables you to extract all of the following from each SERP:
- organic search results
- product ads
- related queries
- people also ask
All of that data will be downloaded and saved into a structured format such as JSON, CSV, Excel, or XML that’s perfect for spreadsheets, reports or databases. You can use it in any application you like and the data is yours to keep, so you can save it and monitor changes over time.
So how can you use that data?
Keeping an eye on how your own website ranks on Google will give you a good idea of what you need to improve. You can also get a competitive edge by monitoring the websites of your competitors. You might even find some competitors you didn’t even know you had.
You can also analyze what kinds of SERP features show up in the results for your selected keywords. These features go beyond the simple blue links and short descriptions traditionally shown and include elements such as featured snippets, rich snippets, paid results, and knowledge graphs. By seeing what Google shows for your search terms, you might be able to target getting your own site to show up in one, especially for some less popular terms. You’ll soon see a difference in traffic if Google uses your site as a featured snippet!
Another important aspect of SEO is knowing whether your competitors are targeting your brand and keywords. The Apify SERP scraper will give you insight into who is bidding on paid results and getting ahead of you in the listings. You might decide that you need to turn the tables on them and do some bidding of your own.
And scraping Google is also really great for getting inspired. The “people also ask” box is a SERP feature that can really help you work out new search terms and keywords that you should be targeting. You might even find yourself coming up with a new product.
Scrape your own website
Now this may sound crazy, but it even makes sense to scrape your own website. Web scraping is usually something that is carried out on web pages so that you can get data you don’t have, so what’s the point of scraping a website you created?
Running SEO audits on your websites is a good idea because it can tell you how well your website is performing when it comes to search engines. Apify also has an SEO Audit Tool that is free and ready to run. You just enter your website address and the tool will crawl all your web pages and tell you if there are any errors or issues you should deal with.
The scraper will check whether your titles or descriptions are long enough, whether your images have been correctly optimized, find broken links, and carry out a full check up so that you end up with a healthier website.
And don’t forget that you can also run the tool on the websites of your competitors to find out what they’re doing right – or wrong. You might just find that they have some weaknesses that you can exploit.
SEO is about using the right tools to understand where your website sits in the world of search engines, and web scraping is turning out to be an essential addition to any webmaster’s SEO toolbox.