What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping automates the process of extracting data from a website or multiple websites. Web scraping or data extraction helps convert unstructured data from the internet into a structured format allowing companies to gain valuable insights. This scraped data can be downloaded as a CSV, JSON, XML file or can be accessed in real time through an API.
Web scraping is performed using a “web scraper” or a “bot” or a “web spider” or “web crawler”. A web-scraper is a program that goes to web pages, downloads the contents, extracts data out of the contents, and then saves the data to a file or a database.
Web scraping (or Data Scraping or Data Extraction or Web Data Extraction used synonymously), helps transform this content on the Internet into structured data that can be consumed by other computers and applications. The scraped data can help users or businesses to gather insights which would otherwise be expensive and time consuming.
Web Scraping Services
The act of creating a process for automated data extraction using web scraping isn’t technically complex, but it requires a web scraper designed to scrape websites without getting detected and the scrapers ability to scale scraping a few hundred pages to millions of pages of data. This is what web scraping services such as ScrapeHero specialize in.
ScrapeHero has the experience and the technological scalability to handle web scraping tasks that are complex and massive in scale – think millions of pages an hour scale.
Enterprise Grade Web Scraping
Web scraping at an Enterprise scale requires technologies, skills, and experience that can work at that level.
Whether that is the sheer number of websites that need to be tackled, manpower required to set them up, or the volume of pages and speed at which they need to be scraped.
Enterprise scale scraping has a unique set of challenges which we have addressed over the years working with some of the biggest global companies to harvest web data at an enterprise scale.
If your planned needs are huge and you are just starting to address them, or whether your current provider cannot handle the enterprise level scalability and quality, it is time to get in touch with us.
We have the experience to handle massive scales while being very cost-effective at the same time – something that cannot be replicated easily or rapidly within an organization.
Having worked with some of the biggest companies in most industries has given us valuable industry-specific experience. Our portfolio includes billion dollar companies in industries such as Finance, Retail, Health, Industrial and Manufacturing, Technology, Social Media, Entertainment, Travel and Hospitality, etc which helps us to get started with minimal industry level context.
How Does a Web Scraper Work
Below are the steps a web scraper follows to extract data from a website:
1. Web Crawling
It all starts at the data source and deciding which data fields we need to extract. Once we have a clear understanding of the requirement we can start building a crawler to find the data in the website. These web crawlers, crawl the website and visit the links that we want to extract data from.
2. Data Scraping
In this step, we extract and parse the meaningful data elements from the raw scraped data that is in HTML format. In some cases extracting data may be simple such as getting the product details, job or business listings from a web page or something complex like filling a form to extract specific information.
3. Data Formatting
The data extracted using a parser won’t always be in the format that is suitable for immediate use. Most of the extracted datasets need some form of “cleaning” or “transformation”. Hence the data extracted needs to be formatted into a human-readable form such as CSV, JSON, or XML.
Types of Web Scraping
Depending on your requirement and expertise level you can choose any one of the following web scraping methods to get started:
1. DIY Scraping
This is suited for people who like to get their hands dirty and learn how to scrape websites themselves for personal projects.
2. Scraping Tools
For users with minimum to no coding knowledge, web scraping tools and software allow users to scrape data fast. These solutions are easy to use and are helpful to monitor a few websites at a reasonable budget.
3. Custom Scraping
There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to scraping. Custom scraping provides the ability to create a solution based on specific requirements such as scraping multiple websites regularly for millions of data points.
Web Scraping Use Cases
Data extracted by scraping can be used in different ways depending on the business domain. Listed below are a few reasons how businesses use data gathered through web scraping.
The transformation of geo spatial data into strategic insights can solve a variety of business challenges. By interpreting rich data sets visually businesses can conceptualize the factors that affect them in various locations and optimize business process, promotion, and valuation of assets.
Sales Lead Generation
Qualified leads, is a necessity for businesses to reach out to customers and generate sales. Web scraping can help gather publicly available details of companies, addresses, contacts, and other necessary information to enhance the productivity of your sales team and save you time.
These are ways businesses use web scrapers to automate different scenarios. Web scraping has become a cost and time saving necessity in billion dollar enterprises around the globe
ScrapeHero is one of the best data providers in the world for a reason. We work with businesses to help identify what data and scraping solution would best suit their requirements.
Customers love to work with us, and we have a 98% customer retention rate. We have real humans that will talk to you within minutes of your request and help you with your data scraping need
We have implemented automated data quality checks which utilize AI and ML to identify issues in the scraped data. This ensures that the data being delivered is of the highest quality
Is Web Scraping Legal
Although web scraping is a powerful technique in collecting large data sets, it is controversial and may raise legal questions related to copyright and terms of service. Most times a web scraper is free to copy a piece of data from a web page without any copyright infringement. This is because it is difficult to prove copyright over such data since only a specific arrangement or a particular selection of the data is legally protected.
Legality is totally dependent on the legal jurisdiction (i.e. Laws are country and locality specific). Publicly available information gathering or scraping is not illegal, if it were illegal, Google would not exist as a company because they scrape data from every website in the world.
We can help with your data or automation needs
Turn the Internet into meaningful, structured and usable data