The internet is a vast space containing massive amounts of data and information about the world. This data is stored in text, images, videos, and other formats. However, this data isn’t exactly easy to find and save. Accessing and analyzing this data is really important for a business to be successful.
As the internet grew, so did the amount of data stored on it. Data analytics has become very important, especially for big organizations on the internet. Businesses needed access to large amounts of data at once, and that is how web scrapers came to be.
That’s why we’re here to tell you all about web scraping, explain what exactly it is, tell you about the features of a good web scraper, compare web scrapers to web crawlers, and talk about its many uses.
What is Web Scraping?
You might be asking yourself, “What exactly is web scraping?” In short, web scraping means using bots to extract data from websites. In essence, each time you copy content from a webpage and save it on your computer, you’re web scraping, but on a much smaller scale.
Today, special applications can do this for you on a much larger scale. They are often referred to as “bots.” These bots are programmed to go to certain websites, copy various amounts of data, and extract information from said data. That data can later help organizations.
What Makes a Good Web Scraper?
“How do I pick the right web scraper?” you’re asking. With so many options and different bots on the market, it can be overwhelming to make a choice. Essentially, the option you go for will depend on your needs.
A good web scraper is one that suits your data extraction needs and offers a user-friendly interface. Obviously, there are certain factors that you need to consider before you make a decision, such as:
- The price – Although there are free bots, the ones that offer paid plans also offer deeper data extraction on a larger scale;
- Speed and performance – The web scraping bot should be able to get you connected to any website and pass through as many proxies as needed;
- Usability – Even though most bots offer tutorials, some bots work better with one browser than the other or on one system than the other;
- Customer support – If you run into problems trying to extract data, you want to know that you can rely on someone to help you.
Web Crawling vs. Web Scraping
People often confuse these two terms, and that is understandable. However, we’re here to make life easier, explain the differences between these two and tell you more about web crawling vs. web scraping.
Web crawling is also known as indexing. That means web crawlers, also known as spiders, gather generic information. The bots browse web pages and index them so that users can search more efficiently. Large search engines use web crawlers on a massive scale to index pages.
On the other hand, web scraping means gathering more data from a website and specific data at that. These bots extract the code of the page and, with it, large amounts of data, which they later store on a computer where it can be analyzed.
Click here to learn more about the differences between web crawling and web scraping.
How Web Scrapers are Used
Web scrapers have various uses, including contact scraping, scraping social media sites for brand mentions, carrying out SEO audits, etc. Essentially, they gather large amounts of data from a website that is further analyzed and used for different purposes.
Web scraping is basically collecting data of all types, such as images, videos, text, numbers, etc. These web scrapers are used in many industries, such as eCommerce, marketing, research, sports analytics, social media, real estate, etc.
Remember that you can overload a website and crash it if you scrape too much data on a smaller website at once, so be reasonable.
As the internet grows, so does our need to use newer, sophisticated tools that automate certain processes and make life easier. For a business to stay ahead of the competition in the modern world, it must employ these tools, especially web scrapers.
We have covered all the details about web scraping, what it is, how it’s used, and how to pick the right one for all your needs – the rest is up to you.