September 23, 2022
5 min

Web Scraping vs Web Crawling

People often use both of these terms interchangeably, but, in fact, there is a difference.

Web scraping, (or data scraping), is similar to web crawling in that it extracts data from websites and locates it in a search engine. Actually, "scraping" is what is done during web scraping. Using scraper bots, it is an automated method of extracting certain data. After the requested data has been gathered, it is examined and put to use in accordance with the requirements and objectives of a specific business.

The database of any website may be accessed using the web scraping procedure, which is crucial for businesses. On the internet, it might be difficult to find this crucial data. With the help of specialists, you can get all the data you need thanks to scraping. You will receive a report that they gather, download, evaluate, and provide to you.

Web Crawling (or indexing) is the process of indexing the content on a page using bots, often known as crawlers. In essence, crawling is what search engines do. All that matters is looking at and indexing a page as a whole. A bot that crawls a website looks through every page, every link, and even the final sentence in search of any information. Web crawlers are mainly used by huge web aggregators, statistics organizations, and well-known search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

 The Difference Between Web Scraping and Web Crawling 

While web scraping focuses on specific data set snippets, web crawling typically captures general information.

Usage examples for web scraping:

  • E-commerce/Retail: In order to stay ahead of the competition, businesses involved in e-commerce should do current market analysis. You may acquire information like inventory, prices, customer ratings, and exclusive deals from different businesses through scraping.
  • Research: Whether a project is solely academic in nature or has marketing, financial, or other commercial aspects, data is inevitably an essential component. It might be extremely important to be able to gather user data in real-time and spot behavioral trends, for instance, while seeking to stop a pandemic or locate a particular target market.
  • Brand protection: Collecting data is increasingly essential to preventing brand dilution and fraud as well as detecting threat actors who are stealing company intellectual property ( logos, names, and product replicas). Collecting data enables businesses to track, recognize, and combat such fraudsters.

What are the advantages? 

Key advantages of web scraping:

  • High degree of  accuracy - By removing human error from your processes, web scrapers enable you to be certain that the data you receive is entirely accurate.
  • Low cost. Web scraping tends to be more cost-effective since, in many circumstances, it takes fewer employees to run and, in many cases, it gives you access to fully automated solutions that don't need any infrastructure from you.  
  • Point shot. Many web scrapers allow you to filter for precisely the data elements you're searching for, so you may choose, for example, that they gather photographs rather than videos or prices rather than descriptions. You can start working right away without getting bogged down with irrelevant or pointless information. 

Key advantages of web crawling:

  • Real-time - For businesses searching for a real-time snapshot of their target data sets, real-time web crawling is preferred since it is more easily adaptive to current events.
  • In-depth analysis: This technique requires thoroughly indexing each target page. When looking for information on the World Wide Web's hidden corners, this can be helpful.
  • Quality assurance - Crawlers are better at evaluating the quality of content than humans, making them an advantage when completing QA tasks.

How are the results different?

Lists of URLs are often the major result of web crawling. Other fields or information may exist, however connections are usually the main by-product. 

When it comes to web scraping, the output can be URLs, but the scope is considerably larger and may contain different fields like:

  • Stock/ product price
  • Customer reviews
  • Amount of views, likes, and shares (or other social involvement)
  • Search engine requests and chronologically ordered search engine results
  • Product star ratings from competitors

Summing up

Web scraping is the process for collecting data from one or more web pages, in brief. Web crawling focuses on discovering URLs or links on the internet.

Usually, crawling and scraping need to be combined in web data extraction activities. In order to scrape the data from those HTML files, you must first crawl—or discover—the URLs and download the HTML files. In other words, you extract data and use it for something, like saving it in a database or processing it further.

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