What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is an integral tool for businesses that want to extract valuable information from different sources around the web. Web scraping can be used for competitive analysis, market research, price monitoring, sentiment analysis, and more, which brings ample opportunities for businesses.
But what is web scraping, how does it work, and what tools are available for it? In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know about web scraping including its definition, working, usage, and tools.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping also known as web data extraction or web harvesting refers to the process of extracting data from different websites. Put simply, it is a method to collect data from a given web page by sending HTML requests to the website’s server, downloading and parsing HTML pages to obtain needed information.
Although you can copy one or two pages of data manually, repeating the process for hundreds or thousands of pages can be time-consuming and tedious. To overcome this, businesses use web scraping that automates the process of data extraction to complete the task within a speck of time.
Web scraping can be used in marketing for lead generation, in real estate to get owner/agent details, in eCommerce for competitive analysis and price monitoring, and in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to train models.
Some of the major techniques used for web scraping include manual copy-paste, text pattern matching, HTML parsing, DOM parsing, HTTP requests, Vertical Aggregation, Semantic Aggregation, and Computer vision web page analysis.
How does Web Scrapers Work?
Now comes the crucial part - working on web scrapers. Depending on the type of website content structure, web scraping works in the following ways:
For a website with all the information stored on HTML front-end code, you need to follow the below-mentioned steps:
Inspect the HTML of the targeted website to be crawled.
You can make HTML access requests through the website URL and fetch data to be downloaded from the web page.
HTML content is usually messy so you will need to clean it through data parsing and set up the data into a structured and readable format like .csv or .json files.
For websites that store information in their API, you need to follow the given steps:
Inspect the XHR network of the URL
Identify request-response for the information you want to extract
Based on the request type (get or post) and request header, you can replicate the request to retrieve data from API.
If the API has a limit on the number of requests then you can also use the ‘for loop’ method to extract all the data at once.
Importance of Web Scraping
There can be several reasons behind automated data extraction from a given web page. But what makes web scraping so important for companies as well as individuals are:
Improvising an established business or founding startup requires you to know about the needs of the customers beforehand. Here, web scraping can act as a savior that will help you track new market trends to keep up with customer preferences.
Web scraping saves a lot of time a business used to invest in analyzing market trends and aligning accordingly. Web scraping allows businesses to save time, increase productivity, and shorten the learning curve.
Businesses involved in eCommerce need to reflect discounts and coupons to outdo the competitor's pricing and using web scraping for real-time pricing data extraction can help to keep competitive prices while improving user engagement.
Web scraping helps businesses gain much more accurate data than any human can. As a result, web scraping allows companies to customize their social media, website, and product in a way that leads to market success and high customer satisfaction.
If you have used tools like UberSuggest or Google Analytics, you know how much data extraction is essential to run a business successfully. Using web scraping tools can also help your website have better SEO than your competitors while targeting the keywords that drive high traffic to it.
Training AI and machine learning models require large data sets. As a data scientist, web scraping can make the data extraction process much faster and more efficient. Web scraping also supports creating AI and ML models that keep expanding and adapting based on the provided data.
Now that we know the basics of web scraping, it is time to look at the web scraping tools that make data extraction much faster and easier. However, with so many tools available in the market, choosing the right one can be difficult.
Top 5 Tools for Web Scraping
Here is the list of top 5 web scraping tools.
5. Scraper API
It provides HTML data by sending an API call to the website. It easily handles proxies and CAPTCHAs of the browser and includes web tools such as Headless Chrome, IP rotation, JS rendering, and Webhooks.
Read:Future of the Web
It is a free web scraping tool available online that allows you to extract data in CSV and JSON files. ParseHub comes with some other features like Infinite Scroll, automatic cloud storage, data collection schedule, REST API, and IP rotation.
It is a Python-based framework that inspects and extracts data from the website. Scrapy is commonly used for information processing, data mining, and archiving historical data.
It is a fully customizable tool that can be used by anyone. Scraper API only needs you to provide the URL and API key of the web page for web scraping. It also offers proxy rotations, higher reliability, and easy proxies, browsers, and CAPTCHA management.
So that was all about web scraping and we hope that the blog helped you understand the basics of it. That being said, it is worth noticing that some malicious web scraping tools can be harmful to the security of a website or web app.
And if you are a business owner who wants to build a web app that can expand your business reach without getting threatened by malicious web scrapers, we at Decipher Zone can help you with that. Our experts will create a secure web app based on your requirements under your budget, all you need to do is get in touch with us now!
FAQs: What is Web Scraping
Is web scraping legal?
If you are scraping data that has been publicly available then web scraping is completely legal. But you need to be careful about international data regulations and the confidentiality of the data.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping also known as web data extraction or web harvesting refers to the process of extracting data from different websites.
How do Web Scrapers Work?
Web scrapers inspect the XHR and HTML of the targeted web page, send a request to the website server for accessing information, download HTML content or replicate the API request, format data in a readable way, and extract required information.