Web scraping is a method of extracting information from websites that are not available for public use or have some sort of paywall. Web scraping, also known as web data extraction, can be done by anyone with the right tools and knowledge.
The term “web scraping” is used interchangeably with “screen scraping”, but they are actually two different things. Screen scraping refers to taking input from an interface that was designed for humans to use while web scrapping involves retrieving structured data from websites through programming languages such as Python and PHP. This ultimate glossary will help you learn about web scrapers in general so you can get started on your journey to becoming a professional data extractor!
What is Web Scraping and What is it Used For?
What is web scraping? Web scraping is the process of automatically gathering information from web pages. Information gathered through web scraping can be formatted into a spreadsheet or database.
Why web scrapers are used to gather web page data? Web scrapers are being used more and more because webmasters don’t have time to enter web data manually, they have better things to do with their time! One reason webmasters might not enter data manually is if their site changes often, it would take too long for them to keep entering new data as these changes occur.
Another reason why web scrapers are used to gather web page data is that webmasters may not know who wants the web page data and how they want it. If this is the case, why should webmasters spend lots of time uploading web page data to a database or spreadsheet?
What is web scraping?
Web scraping is a web-based service that can access the web pages of your choice, extract their content and deliver them to you as an output. Generally speaking, web scraper tools are used for web data extraction, web crawling or web indexing.
Web scraping gives you the ability to monitor competitors’ prices on eCommerce sites or gather information from all sorts of different websites instantly. Since web scrapers collect dynamic data it saves significant amounts of time and money by automating tasks that would normally be done manually.
This process is also called web mining because programs create structured data through internet web pages analysis. It’s not easy to build a successful web scraper without using special software.
Is web scraping legal?
In short, the action of web scraping isn’t illegal. However, some rules need to be followed. Web scraping becomes illegal when non publicly available data becomes extracted.
This comes as no surprise given the growth of web scraping and many recent legal cases related to web scraping.
How do Web Scrapers Work?
So, how do web scrapers work? Automated web scrapers work in a rather simple but also complex way. After all, websites are built for humans to understand, not machines.
Then the scraper will either extract all the data on the page or specific data selected by the user before the project is run.
Ideally, the user will go through the process of selecting the specific data they want from the page. For example, you might want to scrape an Amazon product page for prices and models but are not necessarily interested in product reviews.
Lastly, the web scraper will output all the data that has been collected into a format that is more useful to the user.
Most web scrapers will output data to a CSV or Excel spreadsheet, while more advanced scrapers will support other formats.
What Kind of Web Scrapers are There?
Scrapers are web applications that work like web robots or web crawlers: web scrapers can harvest and aggregate online information and data from websites and present the harvested data in a usable form.
Between web scrapers, we can distinguish two kinds: Data Scraping and Web Crawling. What’s the difference between Data Scraping and Web Crawling? The answer is simple if you understand what web crawling is, then you may know how to differentiate both types of web scraping.
What are Web Scrapers Used For?
A web scraper is a software that extracts data from web pages. It locates webpages on the Internet, reads their content, and “crawls” through hyperlinks to find more webpages, which are then similarly processed.
Web scrapers are often used to collect information for market research purposes but they may also be used for other uses such as web indexing, web-forum archiving or delivering tailored content to users.
Blog post conclusion paragraph: Web scraping is a powerful technique that can be used to automate the process of collecting data from websites.
It’s an invaluable tool for marketers, researchers and many other professionals who need to constantly stay up-to-date on information online.