Frequently asked questions About Web Scraping

1. What is web scraping used for?

There are various applications of web scraping that businesses and individuals can take advantage of:

– For scraping data from yellow pages to generate leads: web scraping would help you to find potential customers that you could profit from by capturing all the business information and contact details like email id, phone numbers, fax and so on.

– For competitor analysis: web scraping can help you obtain useful information about any changes in products, services or pricing models of your competitors. It would extract competitor data, customer sentiment, etc. in a structured, usable format.

– For scraping store locators: you can scrap data verified from google map or google place database to create a list of business locations.

– For SEO monitoring: web scraping would help to understand how content moves in rankings over time. By analyzing the result, you can choose the best title tags and hone on the best keywords and content for attracting new business.

There are more uses that you can do with web scraping, the list above is about only common applications of it.

2. How do web scrapers work?

First, a web scraper sends a request using HTTP protocol to the targeted URL. Then the it loads the entire HTML for the page that the user aims to reach. Some cutting-edge scrapers will translate the entire website including CSS and JavaScript elements. After that, the scraper will fetch all the data on the page and specific data selected by the user before the project is carried out.

3. Is web scraping illegal?

There are plenty of arguments when it comes to the legality of web scraping. Many people have false impressions about web scraping as they think some people steal content from others by using it. However, web scraping is not illegal by itself as you can use it to help with your analysis. The problem only comes when people disregard the Terms of Service and use it without a site owner’s permission. Even though web scraping does not have a clear law or terms to address its application, it is embodied in some legal regulations.

4. What are the differences between web scraping and web crawling?

Although web scraping and web crawling are inextricably linked with each other, there are main differences between them:

– Web scraping is about extracting the specific data on a targeted webpage. Web scraping is more focused and it would download part of the content of the website that is needed.

– In contrast, web crawling is what search engines do and it would download all the content of the website. It scans and indexes the whole webpage along with its internal links. Crawler navigates through the webpage without a specific goal.

5. Can I scrape any websites?

It is important to know the rules before conducting web scraping. Private data that requires user name and passcodes cannot be scraped. Compliance with Terms of Service which explicitly prohibits the action of scraping and copying data that is copyrighted.

6. What are the best web scraping tools for me?

There are plenty of available web scraping tools that are highly recommended for you such as Octoparse, Parsehub, Scrapy, Diffbot, Cheerio, Mozenda, etc. All of them are popular and facilitate web scraping without coding. Furthermore, WINTR is also a powerful tool for your scraping. It is a web scraping and parsing service, its APIs allows companies and developers to turn any webpage into a custom dataset. It offers many services such as data scraping, data parsing, requests proxying and request customization. It is a comprehensive tool to help your web scraping become as easy pie.

PKI-Security Engineer & security blogger at gbhackers.com. She is passionate about covering cybersecurity and Technology.

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