What is Web Scraping?

Do you need to collect website data into database, spreadsheet or any other format? Sometimes it would be great to obtain some data from websites. Websites don’t always provide their data in comfortable formats such as CSV, XML or JSON. You can collect the websites data in any format with ease using the technique called web scraping.

Web scraping is the act or process of retrieving information from the World Wide Web or Websites. Essentially, this is done with software that mimics human web surfing to gather particular information from different websites. Web scraping is also known as Web data extraction, Screen Scraping or Web harvesting. Recently, various advanced web scraping techniques and methods have been developed like text processing, artificial intelligence, human computer interactions, DOM parsing, computer vision and natural language processing to simulate the human browsing that occurs when viewing a webpage to automatically collect data from a website.

web scraping process

A tool or software developed for web scraping is known as Web Scraper. Those are softwares developed to collect data from a website via ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) technique usually with the help of programming language like Java, Python, Ruby, PHP, .NET etc. Web Scrapers are also known as Web Data Extractor, Data Harvester, Web Crawler, Bot, and so on, most of them are standalone desktop applications, web applications or cloud applications.

Widely used best web scraping softwares and web scraping services are: UIPath, AutomationAnywhere, Mozenda, Visual Web Ripper, Fminer, CloudScrape, Helium Scraper, OutWit Hub, Screen Scraper, Web Content Extractor, Kimono, Web Harvy, Easy Web Extract, Web Sundew, Handy Web Extractor, Import.io etc…

Uses of Web Scraping or Applications of Web Scraping:

  • Collect online pricing data
  • Collect latest stock-market quotations and exchange rates.
  • Extract leads from online business directories for example yelp scraping, yellowpages scraping, whitepages scraping, manta scraping etc.
  • Collect search engine rankings for SEO purpose.
  • Perform keyword and PPC research.
  • Extract meta information(description, keywords, page title) on pages of a website.
  • Gather company information from many different directory websites like justdial scraping
  • Collect price, quantity, item name, description, etc., from a supplier’s website.
  • Check competitor’s shipping rates on major shopping sites.
  • Collect information from journal websites and encyclopedia.
  • Extract properties from real estate websites
  • Scrape retailer websites on a regular basis.
  • Extract offers and discounts from deal-of-the-day websites
  • Scrape jobs postings and internships
  • Crawl social sites and forums so as to enable analysis and post-processing of their rich data power aggregators and product search engines
  • Monitor online reputation and check what is being said for your business and brand on social networks
  • Competitor price monitoring

The list is endless. There are countless web scraping uses and applications, either business-oriented or non-profit.

Web Scraping Techniques:

There are various different techniques to web scraping which require lot of manual work or require advanced programming and technical skills. These methods are essential techniques used to find and separate data items within the HTML of a web page. Some of these web scraping techniques are listed below:

  • Human Copy & Paste
  • Text Grepping and Regular Expression Matching
  • HTTP Programming
  • HTML Parsing
  • DOM Parsing
  • Web Scraping Tools
  • Computer Vision web page analyzing

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