Web Scraping (or data scraping, screen scraping, web harvesting,or web data extraction) is the process of extracting data from websites into usable formats or local databases for later analysis or retrieval.
What is Web Scraping Used For?
By downloading and cleaning the data from different web pages, web scraping can turn the unorganized data into a structured format, which helps you to reveal insight into statistics and empower decision-making.
With the function of forming custom datasets, turning websites into APIs, achieving effective data management, etc., web scraping has been widely used in many scenarios. The most common uses of web scraping are:
- For Marketing: Lead Generation, Brand Monitoring, Competitive Monitoring
- For E-commerce & Retail Bussiness: Product Intelligence, Price Intelligence
- For Data Science: Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning Training Models
- ➤ The list goes on and on, you can check this article to get inspired by more web scraping use cases.
- ➤ See how you can make the best of web scraping here: 5 Reasons Why Web Scraping May Benefit Your Business.
Is Web Scraping Legal?
Web scraping isn’t illegal by itself, yet the problem comes when people use it without the site owner’s permission and disregard the ToS (Terms of Service).
To know whether a website allows web scraping or not, you can append “/robots.txt” to the end of the URL of the website you are targeting and check the details.
Here is an example: https://www.google.com/robots.txt
Web Scraping vs Web Crawling
Web scraping and web crawling share many similarities, they both refer to data extraction from websites. But what makes them different is the purpose they serve.
- Web scraping gathers specific data, mainly for later reuse, such as analysis or retrieval. It is widely used for research, gathering real estate listings, price monitoring, web data integration, etc.
- Web Crawling often needs to read and store all of the content on a website for archiving or indexing purposes. Such as search engines use crawlers to index sites.
How to Scrape Data from Website Easily?
Typically, we have 3 ways to scrape data from a website, manually copy-pasting, build a web scraper with coding, and using a no-code web scraping tool.
- If you don’t know how to code?
If you don’t know how to code, it is easy to go with manually copy and paste.
But no-code web scraping tools, such as Octoparse, are more preferred when dealing with large amounts of data, as they can be less costly and work at a faster rate. You can check for the top 30 free No-code Web Scraping Tools here.
- If you have complex requirements?
When you are facing more complex business requirements and higher technical difficulties, you may need to code to solve the problem. Languages such as Python are widely used. Check the beginner’s guide for scrape with Python here.
You can both code yourself or outsourcing it. If you are looking for a data service, check out the Octoparse data service. From crawler setup to data wrangling, to data integration, Octoparse data service offers the one-complete solution to take care of all your data needs.
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Build a Web Scraper with Octoparse
Octoparse is the ultimate tool for web scraping, which lets you turn the whole internet into a structured format. From detecting to cleaning and downloading, Octoparse offers you a one-stop solution.
It also offers huge resources to help you deal with all the use scenarios. You can check these a Web Scraping Case Tutorials to see whether it suits your needs.
Try out pre-bulit templates, and start your web scraping tour now!
- Social media Scraper
- Ecommerce Scraper
- Real estate Scraper
- Education Scraper
- Job Aggregator
- Travel Scraper
Octoparse, Easy Web Scraping for Anyone! Discover More Practical Tips on Web Data Extraction to Empower your Business