September 23, 2022
6 min.

Web scraping: What is it?

Web scraping is the automated method of collecting structured web data. 

In order to run HTTP queries on a target website and collect web data from a page, a scraping tool, also known as a website scraper, is used. It analyzes material that is generated as HTML by the server and made available to the public as well as visible to users.

It occasionally also sends queries to internal application programming interfaces (APIs) for related data that is kept in a database and sent to a browser via HTTP requests, such as product pricing or contact information. After scraping the data, it's typically exported in a more usable format, such as an Excel spreadsheet or JSON.

Web scraping is more complicated than it first appears. Since there are many different types of websites, web scraping tools vary in functionality and features.

What kind of web scrapers exist?

  • Pre-/self-built

Web scrapers come in a variety of sizes and forms. If you have the patience and time, you can even build your own web scraper tool. The tools you may use to create your own web scraper require extensive programming skills, though. The range of this information also expands when you request more functionality for your scraper.

In contrast, you may download and start using a variety of pre-built web scrapers. Some of these will also include advanced features such as scrape scheduling, JSON and Google Sheets exports, and more.

  • Software vs Browser extension 

Web scrapers often take one of two forms: computer software or browser extensions. Browser extensions are add-ons that may be added to our browsers, such as Google Chrome and others. Many of us have different browser extensions. As a result, web scraping may also be done using these plugins. The ease of use and direct integration into your browser are the initial benefits for web scraping browser extensions. The major drawback of these extensions is that they prevent the use of advanced functions that must be implemented outside of your browser. For example, in such an extension, IP rotation is not possible.

Software applications that you install on your device are an additional choice. These are less convenient than browser extensions, but they make up for it with advanced functions that are not constrained by what your browser can and cannot do.

  • Cloud vs local 

Cloud web scrapers are web scrapers that run in the cloud or on a remote server. By using them, you may give your computer more resources so it can perform other tasks. As a result, extracting data from websites doesn't need a lot of CPU resources.

Local web scrapers, on the opposite, work on your computer and make use of your resources and internet connection. Therefore, if the web scrapers require more processing power or memory, your computer will slow down and become unusable.

  •  User Interface

Web scrapers' user interfaces might differ greatly from one another. For instance, some web scraping applications will operate using a command line and a simple user interface. This could seem unclear or counterintuitive to certain people.

On the contrary, some web scrapers will offer a completely functional user interface (UI) where the user can simply click on the data they wish to scrape from the website once it has been properly displayed. Most users with little technological experience find these web scrapers to be simpler to use.

What are web scrapers used for?

For many different businesses, web scraping is crucial. Web scraping is used for a trading platform in a variety of scenarios, such as market research, indexing product prices to market prices, finding potential customers, examining competing platforms and/or competitors, gauging public opinion of your company, and valuing businesses' real estate, financial, and investment holdings.

Here are a few interesting examples:

  • Market research

Market research is essential, and it should be motivated by the most precise data available. Data scraping allows you to obtain high-quality, large-volume, and highly informative web-scraped data of any size and form, which is the foundation of market analysis and business intelligence throughout the world.

  • Real estate listings

To fill their database with property available for sale or rent, many real estate brokers use web scraping.

  • Price Intelligence

Modern e-commerce businesses who want to make better pricing/marketing strategies based on data must extract product and pricing information from e-commerce websites and transform it into insight.

  • News and content monitoring

Modern media may either provide enormous value for your business or pose an existential threat in just one news cycle. Web scraping news data is the best way to track, collect, and sort the most important stories from your industry if your business depends on rapid news analyses or if it regularly makes the news.

  • Lead Generation

Many businesses use web scraping to gather contact information from potential clients or customers. This happens all the time in the business-to-business sector, when prospective clients submit their company information online for the public to see.

Web scraping is gaining popularity because it gives business owners and other people quick access to a range of useful data. With web scraping, you can accomplish a virtually endless number of tasks. What matters is what you can do with the data you've collected and how valuable you can make it.

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