The Ultimate Guide to Use a Review Scraper to Propel Your Business

What if you could know exactly what your customers thought about you? Better yet, what if you could know exactly what they thought about both you and your top competitors?

Using a review scraper allows you to compile reviews of both your products and your competitors’ products. By comparing your strengths and weaknesses, you can improve your marketing efforts and customer experience strategies with minimal effort.

In this guide, learn the essentials of getting a review scraper. Learn how to use review scrapers ethically and legally, and feel confident about implementing this strategy to improve your business.


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Why Would You Want to Scrape Reviews From the Web?

Why Would You Want to Scrape Reviews From the Web?

Online information is scraped almost as quickly as it’s created. From contact information to keyword data, there’s a lot of information companies are trying to get from their website and their competitor’s websites.

But while reviews only represent a small portion of the information that’s gleaned from online web scrapers, review scraping can be a powerful tool for businesses looking to learn more about their company, product, competitors, and customers.

What is review scraping?

Review scraping is a practice where companies, either working independently or through a web scraping service, collect and compile reviews from their own website, competitor websites, and third-party reviewing websites. Companies can then analyze and review data and use it to make key business decisions going forward.

Review scraping usually requires multiple tools, including web scraping tools or web scraping APIs and proxies. Web scraping tools help companies collect and analyze a wider breadth of reviews in a shorter period of time than regular employees could manage manually.

Reasons for scraping online reviews

There are a number of reasons companies might want access to online reviews, both for their own company and products and that of their competitors’.

Reasons for scraping reviews of your own company or products

Scraping reviews of your own company or product is a great way to monitor your online reputation. If reviews are largely positive, you know you’re doing something right. But if you notice a trend toward negative reviews — or you notice several reviews mentioning the same negative quality regarding your brand — you know where to focus your energies.

While you can’t remove all negative reviews of your business or products, especially if they’re not posted on your website, you can reply to reviews. Research shows that online customers expect replies to negative reviews within one week of the review being posted. By scraping reviews regularly, you can find negative reviews early enough to give a prompt reply. This not only helps you repair your relationship with your customer but also shows potential customers that you care about providing a positive experience.

Scraping reviews of your company also provides valuable market research. You can see which aspects of your product — positive and negative — your customers actually care about. You may also be able to notice trends or frequently asked questions, which you can respond to by posting targeted content for your blog or social media pages.

Reasons for scraping competitor reviews

Scraping reviews of your competitors can be just as valuable as scraping reviews of your own company but in a different direction. Competitor reviews show you what your competitors are doing right, which can help you decide which direction to take your company in.

When looking at competitor reviews, pay more attention to their positive reviews than the negative ones. Negative competitor reviews may show you areas where you can outshine your competition. But positive reviews show you where you need to expend more energy.

For example, if you read a review that says “This brand offers more color options than other brands,” and you can easily accommodate adding more color options to your product, that may be a good option. But if you’ve been trying to market your brand as “sustainable” because you use sustainable shipping practices, yet competitor reviews show you that the competition is doing significantly more work in the sustainability niche than you can do, it may be a good idea to pivot your marketing efforts to showcase an area where you have a leg up on your competitors.

What to do with reviews you’ve scraped from the internet

Once you’ve scraped reviews from the internet, the next question is what you do with them.

One option, of course, is to find reviews worth replying to. We’ve already explained why you want to respond to negative company and product reviews. But while you don’t necessarily need to reply to every two-word positive review of your company — especially for reviews posted on third-party websites — it’s good to reply to positive reviews if it’s clear that the reviewer spent time writing them. Responding to positive customer reviews shows customers that you value their opinion and appreciate the time they put into crafting reviews. This can improve customer retention, and also increase the odds that your company will receive more positive reviews in the future.

Another option is to pull out common words and phrases. Word clouds, for example, cluster common words together. The size of the word clusters can show your company which things are being mentioned over and over again in reviews. This allows you to target the most frequent complaints or points of contention as well as improve upon the positive aspects of your brand or product that customers repeatedly mention.

What Are the Legal and Ethical Implications of Scraping Reviews From the Web?

What Are the Legal and Ethical Implications of Scraping Reviews From the Web?

Laws are always a step behind technology. As public data cases have hit more and more courts, review scraping has been analyzed numerous times. Recent court cases, however, have ruled in favor of data scraping as long as the data being scraped is publicly available. This means that review scraping is generally legal.

But before you begin scraping public data, it’s a good idea to review the legal and ethical implications. Doing so ensures that your company remains above regulations and continues living up to your customers’ expectations of your trustworthiness.

Legal review scraping

Some of the biggest legal rulings about review scraping include prohibiting scraping intellectual property and protecting personal data. The CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) also prohibits accessing protected computers, which refers to any computer connected to the internet.

Essentially, web scraping is legal as long as the information was freely available on the web in a public space. For example, knowing how to scrape Google reviews is not only legal but a smart business practice. Review scraping becomes illegal if you’d have to log in to an account to read the review or it’s otherwise not considered public property.

Additionally, how you use the reviews matters. If you reprint a blog post reviewing products on your website and try to pass it off as your own, you could find yourself infringing on intellectual property rights.

Ethical review scraping

There’s a difference between staying on the right side of the law and depending on the right side of morality. Ethical review scraping means focusing not only on what the law says but also on doing the right thing.

One key to ethical web scraping is ensuring that you don’t overtax the websites you’re scraping data from. DDoS attacks are a type of malicious online attack that involves flooding a network with so much malicious activity that it can’t operate.

While data scraping won’t have the same impact on a network as a targeted attack, it’s still possible to inundate web servers with more traffic than they’re used to. This can impede the website owner’s ability to keep the site functioning appropriately. Robots.txt files on websites can help your web scraper find the right information on a site without having to crawl around unnecessarily.

Another good option is to tell your bot to take breaks between intervals of scraping. While bots can work extremely quickly, websites usually cannot, and making tons of repetitive requests can overburden a website. Although it takes longer to scrape this way, it is still faster than scraping reviews manually while ensuring that sites continue running smoothly.

How To Scrape Reviews from Websites

How To Scrape Reviews from Websites

Using a review scraper is a sound business practice. But it’s not as easy as just downloading an app on your phone and watching reviews pour in. You either need to know how to scrape reviews on your own using a variety of online tools or you need a sound strategy in place for hiring a review scraper.

How do you scrape reviews from websites on your own?

If you have strong technical skills and a willingness to learn new strategies, you may be able to scrape reviews without hiring a freelance review scraper or paying for a review scraping service.

Top review scraping techniques

There are five main review scraping techniques:

  • HTML parsing
  • DOM parsing
  • Vertical aggregation
  • XPath
  • Google Doc extraction

HTML parsing

HTML parsing uses JavaScript to take raw HTML code and convert that code into usable data. This works well on websites with numerous reviews where you’re trying to compile reviews into one database.

DOM parsing

DOM (Document Object Model) parsing extracts entire web pages, including their structure. You might use this if you were scraping information from an entire website of reviews and you wanted to keep track of nestled reviews or blog posts.

Vertical aggregation

Vertical aggregation uses bots and cloud-based technology to be on the continual lookout for new information within certain verticals.


XPath — short for XML Path Language — is a query language that looks for nodes in XML documents. This can help you sift through documents with complicated structures and extract the right information.

Google Doc extraction

Finally, Google Sheets extraction provides the easiest option for companies just dipping their toes into review scraping. The IMPORTXML function built into Google Sheets can check if website information can be scraped or if it’s protected. If it can be scraped, you can scrape particular data or data in a particular pattern and dump it directly into a Google Sheet.

Each of these review scraping techniques can be used alone, but they’re more powerful when you use them together. Understanding the right time to use each technique takes technical prowess. This is why many companies choose to outsource review scraping or create a dedicated data scraping team within the company.

Using review scraping technology

Regardless of which web scraping technique(s) you choose, you will have to pay for a specific technology to do data scraping on a large scale. This is true even if you are opting to do review scraping in-house rather than paying for a review scraper. For example, if you choose to do DOM parsing, you’ll need to invest money in DOM parsing software.

In addition to standard review scraping technology, there are other technologies you should consider if you’re going to be scraping reviews from within your company. Proxies, for example, help disguise your IP address, which can prevent websites from booting you out before you have the information you need.

Because review scraping does require an investment, even if you do it in-house, doing your own review scraping is best saved for companies that have a unique review scraping strategy that they don’t want to share with competitors. If you do not have a specific plan for review scraping, you may be better served hiring a review scraper.

What is a review scraper?

A review scraper is a term used for a person trained at review scraping. You can hire freelance review scrapers, who are already trained in the tools they need to scrape online reviews, or you can use a review scraping service.

One of the most common options is using a review scraping API (application programming interface), which is a tool used to extract data from specific websites or databases. For example, if you’re looking for how to scrape Google reviews using Python, you’re looking at how to use a specific type of API.

How do you choose a review scraper?

Because review scraping can offer such a great return on investment, it’s important to choose the right review scraper for your brand. You don’t just want to pluck the cheapest freelancer off the internet. Instead, choose a freelancer or service provider based on what they can offer your brand.

Transparent pricing

One of the first features you should consider when choosing a review scraper is the pricing. But almost as important as what you’re being charged is how up-front the freelancer or service is about pricing. You should be able to get an estimate of what an entire project will cost, along with information about potential price deviations and how much your estimate might go up or down.

Proven track record

After you’ve narrowed your options down and located some review scrapers in your price range, the next thing to look at is the reliability of the scrapers you’re deciding between. Online reviews can help you determine a company’s or individual’s track record. Some companies might also offer case studies showing how effective their review scraping services have been in the past.

Ease of use

The third thing to consider is how easy a particular web scraper is to use. Freelance web scrapers, for example, tend to be pretty hands-off. However, you may need to spend time compiling information about what data you want scraped, who your competitors are, which websites to look at, and more. Depending on the experience level of the freelancer you’re considering, you may need to put together a lot of information to help them track down the best reviews for your company.

Working with an online service often requires similar information but with less hand-holding. Professional services usually have a specific method they use when scraping reviews. Some may even be willing to do market research for you.

Other services merely provide an interface that you can work with to scrape reviews yourself. This takes the most effort, but it gives you the greatest control over how reviews are being scraped.

Regardless of which method you choose, consider whether your team has the time and expertise to keep up with the review scraper and get the most bang for your buck.

How to Start a Review Page on Your Website

How to Start a Review Page on Your Website

Online reviews provide social proof to your customers, showing that your brand or product is reliable and worth their money. One study shows that as much as 99% of customers check reviews before making purchasing decisions.

Creating a dedicated review page on your website gives customers a place to look first. Because you own the website, you can curate the reviews. It’s also a lot easier to reply to every review when reviews are in a convenient location. Although you can’t prevent customers from leaving reviews outside your website, learning how to integrate reviews into your website can add value to your company and improve sales.

How to use reviews you’ve scraped

One option when starting a review page on your website is to use the reviews you’ve scraped to kick-start your review page. If you decide to go this route, you need to be careful about which reviews you’re using and how. While it’s legal to scrape publicly-available reviews, and even use that information, companies will not take kindly to you copying their content. And if they can prove that your use of scraped data costs them revenue, they will have a case in court.

This means you shouldn’t use scraped reviews from websites that generate income on reviews alone.

There’s also legal precedent for using online reviews. For example, you can legally embed Google reviews on your website, but you’re expected to ask the original reviewer’s permission first. Once you have their permission, you can add those reviews directly to your site to bolster your review page.

How to ask for reviews

In addition to using reviews you’ve scraped from the internet, you can also solicit reviews from your customers to use on your review page. If you have regular customers or clients that you know feel good about your company, reach out and ask for them to write a review for you to feature on your website. You can also reach out to influencers and ask them to review your product, service, or company for their audience.

One easy way to ask for reviews is to create an automatic email that goes out a certain amount of time after a customer has ordered a new product, entered into a contract with your company, or started using a service.

A simple, clean email asking customers to leave a review if they were satisfied with your company — or to contact you so you can help them resolve a problem if they have one — is often enough to nudge customers toward leaving a review. You can then respond to those reviews on your website. This will continue your efforts to reply to scraped reviews and will improve your overall company image.

You can even compile a collection of scraped reviews and solicited reviews into a review essay. The review essay outlines your company’s features or services and is interspersed with genuine, unpaid reviews. You can use a review essay as a landing page for new customers, post it on social media, or include it as part of your welcome packet for new clients.


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Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Review scrapers add genuine value to your business, allowing you to provide better customer service, competitive pricing, and product improvements your customers will care about. With the right review scraper, you can propel your business forward and generate more revenue than ever.

Yet, what you don’t want to do is trust a random company. Create a Rayobyte account and use proxies to scrape reviews like a pro. Proxies disguise your IP address, allowing you to scrape more reviews than you otherwise could. The result is a breadth of data you can use to improve your business and make critical decisions about your company.

The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader. All trademarks used in this publication are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.

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