Parser: what is it and where is it used
Parser — a special program designed to collect information from different sites and organize it. Any text content of an Internet resource, headings, website HTML codes, menu items, online databases, and many other elements can be used as a data source. The process of collecting information is called parsing. This technology is most widely used in Internet marketing. It automatically collects data from competitors' websites, as well as analyzes the effectiveness of your own Internet resources. Parser programs are able to process huge amounts of information, structure it, which greatly simplifies the work of specialists, and also speeds up marketing research.
Now let's dwell in more detail on how the parser works, what advantages and disadvantages these programs have. Consider the options for applying this technology in practice. Let's get acquainted with the most common options for parsers that you can take into service. We will show you how to ensure the most efficient work with these programs without the risk of getting banned.
Peculiarities of the parser
The term "parsing" itself — this is a derivative of the English verb "to parse", which in literal translation sounds like "in parts". That is, this technology is a syntactic analysis of data related to each other. This work is carried out in several stages:
- Scanning the source array of data, including HTML code, databases, text, etc.
- Removing significant units for semantics depending on the given parameters. This takes into account headings, paragraphs, links, bold phrases, menu items.
- Converting the received information into a format that will be convenient for a specialist in subsequent processing. Basically, systematization is used in the form of tables or structured reports.
Parsing often uses any grammatically structured system as an object. This can be information encoded both by a programming language and mathematical expressions, natural language, etc. So, if an HTML page is used as the initial data array, then the parser can easily remove information from its code and present it in the form of text that be understandable to the common man. It is also possible to convert to JSON – special format for scripts and applications.
Partner programs access Internet resources either through the protocols HTTP and HTTPS , Internet browsers, or using special bots that have been granted administrator rights. Under the concept of "receiving data" the semantic analysis of the initial array of parameters is implied. The program automatically breaks it into separate blocks, whether they are words, phrases or other lexical structures. The program automatically analyzes their grammar, transforms the linear structure of the text into the so-called syntax tree. Thanks to this structuring, the program processes the received data more efficiently. Parsers use:
- Dependency tree. It is a structure consisting of separate components that are in relation to each other in a hierarchy.
- Component tree. Here, all components are closely interconnected with each other, but there is no hierarchy in their relationship.
Depending on the purpose, the program can work both in descending and ascending parsing. In the first case, the analysis is carried out from the general to the specific, while the syntax tree expands from top to bottom. In the case of bottom-up parsing, the syntax tree is built from the bottom up. Which option to choose for use in practice, experts decide on their own. It all depends on the goals that stand before him. In any case, the program will automatically generate a huge array of data and select from it only what will be relevant in your work, as well as convert the information into an array that is convenient for subsequent work.
The main advantages of parsers
Using a parser program in practice, you will be able to:
- Automate the process of collecting information and analyzing it, which minimizes the burden on you personally: the free time that has appeared can be safely directed to solving other tasks related to your professional activities.
- Significantly speed up the analysis of huge data arrays. The program will quickly cope with the processing of hundreds of pages of catalogs of an online store or a huge database.
- It is quick and easy to detect errors on the site or in any other Internet resource if you specify the appropriate parameters for searching for them in the parser settings.
As a result, you get information that will subsequently require minimal processing, will be simple and easy to use.
Where can I use the parser program in practice?
Data parsing is widely used in various fields that require detailed analysis and systematization of large amounts of data. Among the main directions of its use, we highlight:
- Programming. A computer is able to perceive and understand only machine code, consisting of a set of zeros and ones. When creating a program, a person uses special languages that are understandable to him, but incomprehensible to a machine. Therefore, initially a special application analyzes the written program and translates it into a binary code that will be understandable to the machine. This is program parsing.
- Creating websites. Along with programming languages, the computer also does not accept markup languages, including HTML. In order for this markup to be displayed as a visually understandable and structured site interface, the browser parser is forced to analyze the source code of the page, extract the necessary parameters from it, and translate them into a format that will be understandable in the machine. In addition, parsing here allows you to identify errors and shortcomings of the created Internet resource.
- Web crawling. It is a special case of parsing. The search robot processes the user's request and looks through all the sites that are relevant to him. Based on this, the page that is most suitable for the content of the entered query is selected. It turns out that crawlers, unlike other parsers, do not extract data from the pages of the site — they look for matches with user requests on them.
- News aggregation. In order to streamline the presentation of news information, special aggregator sites collect updates from a huge number of available sources, analyze them, and only after that issue them to the staff for final editing and publication.
- Internet marketing. SEO and SMM specialists use parser programs to collect and analyze user data, product items from the catalog of online stores, semantic core meta tags, and other data. The information obtained will be indispensable in the process of optimizing and promoting the site, promoting pages on social networks, setting up contextual and targeted advertising. One of the varieties of data parsing can also be called checking the text material posted on the site for plagiarism.
- Price monitoring. With the help of parser programs, you can monitor price fluctuations on competitor sites. Thanks to this, you will always be aware of the current situation on the market, you can easily and quickly adjust your own pricing policy.
The most popular parser programs
In the modern IT market, there are quite a few programs designed for data parsing. The following products have received the greatest application in practice:
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider. A program from British developers designed for a comprehensive analysis of sites. It is endowed with huge functionality, including the ability to search for broken links, identify duplicates in meta tags and titles, individual URLs, key queries, etc. In practice, many users will appreciate the advantage of generating a sitemap, checking the file robots.txt, scanning resources that need optimization. The basic version of the program is free to use, but its functionality will be somewhat limited compared to the paid one.
- ComparseR. This program does not have the function of searching for internal and external links, but it performs parsing sites more than successfully. In comparison with the previous option, there are a number of performance limitations, which will be especially relevant when analyzing large sites: information portals, online stores. Users appreciated the user-friendly interface, which greatly simplifies both the development and subsequent use of the program.
- Netpeak Spider. A parser program designed to work with huge sites with millions of pages, or even more. It is endowed with a huge set of tools for promoting and analyzing Internet sites of various types. It provides customizable parameter filters, nofollow link search, HTML sitemap generation, etc. Before choosing this program, you should know that full functionality will be available only by subscription.
- Xenu Link Sleuth. A free to use program, primarily focused on finding broken links and other errors on Internet resources. It cannot be used for complex site analysis.
Are there any restrictions on using parsers?
When working with parsec programs, the first question that arises is the legality and ethics of such actions. On the one hand, it really collects data from other people's sites and other sources. But at the same time, all the information that this program works with is freely available, which means that data parsing does not violate any laws. But there are two exceptions here:
- Spam calls and mailings. It provides for a violation of the law on the protection of personal data.
- Copying information from competitors' websites for the purpose of placing it on your own resource. Provides for copyright infringement.
That is, parsers cannot be used for such actions of the program. In all other respects, these actions do not violate the norms of law and ethics. But still, working with these applications often involves multi-threaded actions. Anti-fraud systems react extremely negatively to this, blocking accounts and addresses from which these requests come. The use of mobile proxies in practice in conjunction with data parsing programs allows you to avoid a ban and ensure the most stable and efficient work.
In this case, the proxy server will replace your real IP-address and geolocation with its own parameters. This ensures:
- anonymity and security of Internet activities;
- Effectively bypass regional locks;
- faster internet connection;
- the ability to work in multithreaded mode, including using parser programs and other applications that automate actions on the network.
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