Can Scraping Get You on the First Google Page? Yes and Here’s How
The title of our article kind of says it all, right?
No matter whether you’re a small business owner or a content marketing expert. You want your site to rank on the first page of Google (or any other search engine, for that matter). And web scraping can help you do just that.
Bear in mind, though, that as with any type of tactic within the field of search engine optimization (SEO), it isn’t a quick win that instantly gets you results. But it can definitely help you give your site’s pages the push they need to reach that first page on Google.
So how does it work?
You’ll find out in this short article below. You’ll learn what web scraping is and how web scraping might help your SEO efforts. Then, we’ll let you know how you can start scraping to improve your site rankings.
Before you know it, you’ll see your pages climbing to the first page of Google. Ready to go?
What is web scraping?
Web scraping is the process of gathering and extracting information (data) from a single web page or multiple web pages. This is done by a robot called a web crawler or spider. Other names for web scraping include data extracting or web harvesting.
You might have also heard of web crawling before, but this is not exactly the same as web scraping. You see, web crawling is the automated process of a bot visiting a URL to then crawl its way through all the content on that page. It registers what it encounters and saves this in a database – an index – from where it can later be retrieved again.
Wait, but isn’t that the same as web scraping then?
Not exactly. You see, web crawling involves a bot automatically crawling through every part of a page to then store this knowledge in an index. This is what search engines like Google do, through their spider bots (like the infamous Googlebot).
Web scraping, on the other hand, is a more targeted approach that’s aimed at extracting specific data from a page. But as you can see, these are very similar processes. And this is why web scraping can come in so handy when trying to improve your site’s performance in the search engines.
How web scraping can help your SEO
Since web scraping relies on the same automated crawling process as search engines do, you can use a web scraper to see what search engines see. And we don’t mean just the search engine results pages (SERPs).
For starters, you can scrape your own website. Why? Because it allows you to see your entire website and all its pages in the same way Googlebot would see it. And here’s why that’s useful.
Googlebot, or any other spider bot, crawls through your website in a very structured way. It reads all the data on the page – in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) – to try and determine what content is on that page. Once it encounters a link to another page, it follows it and repeats the same process.
Maybe your website’s data is incredibly difficult to interpret for Googlebot because you haven’t followed Google’s latest structured data guidelines.
Or maybe Googlebot tries to follow a link but ends up at a dead-end because the link is broken. This is a well-known factor Google uses to score your website, making it an (indirect) ranking factor as many broken links on your site will harm your site’s SEO performance.
So by scraping data from your own site, you get a sneak peek into how your site will be evaluated by the almighty Googlebot, which means you can fix any issues to boost your rankings.
But that’s not all. You see, you can use a web scraper to visit any web page you want. Say you decide to scrape the website of your main competitor. Your scraper can easily extract all the metadata, title tags, used keywords, and much more information from their site as well.
Knowing how they’re doing their SEO means you can step up your game and use that knowledge to overtake them.
And we’re still not done.
You see, you can also decide to scrape data directly from Google itself. This can give you valuable insights like who is ranking for which keywords, what metadata they’re using, and if there are any rich snippets to target.
You can even scrape Google’s subsidiary pages. Although Google doesn’t provide any publicly available APIs, you can still scrape data from these pages using special scraping tools that work just like a Google Image API or Google Scholar API. Here you can learn more about how a Google scraping tool works.
Of course, there are many different options out there – let’s discuss those.
Tools for SEO scraping
Of course, you can decide to build a web scraper yourself. But you need to be a pretty good coder with spare time on your hands. And with sites (in particular giants like Google) continually upping their bot-blocking game, there will be a lot of hurdles to cross for your scraper to stay undetected.
Alternatively, you could invest in a web scraper tool that does all the work for you. Depending on your specific needs, you can really go as small or big as you want (and your budget allows).
A handy little Chrome plugin like Scraper is free of charge and can get you some basic SERP data without too much trouble. But if you want to up your SEO game and ensure you have the tools to get your site on the first page of Google, you’ll probably need to think bigger.
Some of the most well-known examples are SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Screaming Frog. With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll be on that first page in no time!