If you’ve ever used the copy-paste functionality to get certain information from a website, you’ve performed web scraping. Perhaps you wanted to compare prices, get contact information, or gain insights from social media feeds.
However, manually scraping the web takes a lot of time and leaves room for human error. You may end up with unreliable and inaccurate data, from which you can’t drive actionable insights. That’s where web scrapers can step in.
Web scrapers extract and store data from websites to help businesses make data-driven decisions. You can rely on them to get accurate data in a readable format, thus help you gain valuable insights.
What Are Web Scrapers?
In simplest terms, web scrapers are tools for sifting through websites to extract data from their pages. They do so with the help of a web crawler that follows specific URLs to explore them.
A web crawler is a bot that indexes the content of websites to search for the necessary data and guide the web scraper.
Now, many websites use geo-restrictions to prevent users in certain countries from accessing their content. That’s why web scrapers use proxies to go around geo-blocking technologies and gather the needed data faster. Think of proxy servers as filters that bypass geo-restrictions.
How Are They Used?
Using web scraping tools is very straightforward. You don’t need to have any coding knowledge to harness their power, as they do all the legwork for you.
All you need to do is enter a particular URL into the input box, select the type of data you need, and let the scraper work its magic.
The scraper will start scraping, or harvesting, the website’s data before retrieving it in HTML format. It will then parse HTML, which means converting the site’s code into a tree-structure path.
Since you can’t learn much from that path, your web scraping tool will convert it into a readable format. The most commonly used web-scraped data formats include CSV, JSON, PDF, XLS, XML, and TSV.
After that conversion, the tool will store your data in your chosen database. That way, you can access it anytime to analyze it and make better business decisions.
Depending on the data, you can use it to optimize prices, improve customer research, generate qualified leads, and research competition.
Types of Web Scraping Tools
There are many different web scraping tools out there, so choosing one can be a bit overwhelming. You should select the right type for your needs first.
Here are the three main types of web scrapers.
1. Browser Extensions
If you don’t want to install any software or use a cloud service, a browser extension might be ideal for you.
However, browser extensions are great tools for minor projects. That’s because they can’t harvest data from multiple pages of a website at the same time. They work on a page-by-page basis, which may not always be very convenient. They also have quite basic features.
If you need to retrieve large sets of data, you might want to look into other types of web scrapers. A browser extension isn’t going to do it quickly, and you may lose a lot of precious time.
2. Cloud-Based Scrapers
Cloud-based scrapers provide a hassle-free experience, as they don’t require any software installation either. You also don’t need to do anything on your own, apart from selecting a subscription plan and including your scraping requirements.
Your chosen vendor will get the scraper to work and notify you when your desired data is ready. You will receive it in a readable format that you can download anytime.
Cloud-based tools are excellent for bigger projects, as they have no data limitations. You can extract any amount of data you want and store it safely on their high-capacity servers.
3. Installable Software
This type of web scrapers is self-explanatory. It’s a piece of software that you can download and install on your device to harvest data from websites.
You don’t need to worry about the learning curve because these tools are effortless to use. They work just like browser extensions, except they come with some advanced features. They can also scrape more than one page simultaneously.
Most installable software solutions are desktop-based and mainly support Windows devices.
If you are looking for a reliable web scraping tool, we suggest you visit this site for more information.
Web scrapers are excellent tools for helping businesses gather and analyze valuable data. They’re flexible, scalable, easy to use, and can completely transform your organization.
They can help you make informed business decisions and enhance your daily operations. They can help improve your customer experiences, beat the competition, and generate more ROI.
The key is to choose the right web scraping tool for your needs that will help you achieve your goals. So, consider the size of your project, pick the right type of scraper, and find a vendor you can rely on.
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