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Web Scraping with Web Scraper - Everything You Need to Learn
All about web scraping and web scraper are amazing and crucial. Find the most detailed information in this blog.
Jun 27, 2024Robin Brown

What Is Web Scraping?

Web scraping is a computerized process used to gather substantial volumes of data from websites. It's also commonly referred to as web data extraction or web data scraping.

Web scraping requires two parts - a crawler and a scraper.

  • A crawler is an AI algorithm that navigates through web pages by following links on the internet to search for specific data needed.
  • A scraper is a tool created specifically for extracting data from websites. The design of a scraper can significantly differ based on the project's complexity and scale, ensuring it can swiftly and precisely extract data.

Indeed, if you've ever duplicated and inserted data from a website, you've essentially executed the same task as a web scraper. The only difference is that you finished the data scraping manually.

Although web scraping can be done manually, in most cases, automated tools are preferred when scraping web data because they cost less and work faster.

Web scraping uses machine learning and intelligent automation to retrieve hundreds, millions, or even billions of extracted data points from the seemingly endless boundaries of the internet.

However, it should be noted that it is inevitable to encounter website blocks and captchas when doing web scraping.

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Scraper and Crawler - What's the Difference?

Here, we take a better-understood approach: the ox and the plow.

The crawler plays the role of the ox, guiding the scraper (a.k.a. the plow) in our digital realm.

That is, the crawler will guide the scraper through the Internet extracting the required data as if it were a manual operation.

The web crawler

A web crawler, sometimes referred to as a "spider", is the basic program that browses the web and searches and indexes content.

It browses the Internet by clicking on links and exploring to index and search for content. In many programs, you first "crawl" the web or a specific site to discover URLs, which are then passed to the scraper.

The web scraper

Web scraper is a specialized tool designed to accurately and quickly extract data and relevant information from web pages. Web data scraper varies greatly in design and complexity, depending on the project.

How Does Web Scraper Work?

Web Scraper

So how does a web scraper work? The process of it seems relatively simple, but it's actually a little complicated. After all, websites are built for humans, not machines.

When a web scraper needs to crawl a website:

  • Before scraping, the scraper gets one or more URLs to load, and then it loads all the HTML code for those sites. And some more advanced scrapers will render the entire site, perhaps even extracting all the CSS and Javascript elements.
  • The scraper then takes the required data from the HTML code, or specific data selected by the user before the project is run, and outputs this in a format specified by the user. This data is then output in a format specified by the user.

Typically, the user will need to select the specific data they want from the page. In other words, you just want to crawl Amazon product pages for price and model numbers but are not necessarily interested in product reviews.

In most cases, the web scraper will output the data to a CSV or Excel spreadsheet, while more advanced ones will support other formats, such as API-ready JSON.

  • Finally, the web scraper will export all the data it collects to a format that is more useful to the user.

What Kind of Web Scrapers Are There?

  • Self-built
  • Pre-built
  • Browser extension
  • Computer software
  • User interface
  • Cloud web scraper

Self-built web scraper

Just like building a website, anyone can also build their own web scraper. But it requires some advanced programming knowledge. If you want a more effective crawler, then you need deeper programming knowledge.

Pre-built web scraper

The opposite of self-built is pre-built web scrapers, which generally have customizable advanced options. You just need to download and run them easily. Scrape scheduling, JSON, and Google Sheets exports are all pre-built web scrapers.

Browser extension web scraper

A browser extension is a program like an application that can be added to your browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox. The good thing about this kind of scraper is that it integrates with your browser, so it's very easy to run and operate.

However, any advanced features that are beyond the scope of your browser won't work on the browser extension. This means that IP rotation is not possible when using it.

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Computer software scraper

Although computer software scrapers are not as convenient as extensions, they are not limited by what browsers can and cannot do.

Since they can be downloaded and set up on your computer, they are more complex than web scrapers that operate within a browser. However, they also possess sophisticated features that are not confined by the limitations of a browser.

User interface web scraper

User interface web scraper is a web scraping tool that includes a user-friendly interface. Users can enter URLs, set parameters, and view results without having to write code directly. These web scrapers are generally easier to use for most people with limited technical knowledge.

Cloud web scraper

A local web crawler will run on your computer using its resources and internet connection. This means that if your scraping behavior requires high CPU and RAM performance, your computer may become very slow while running the scraper.

To avoid this trouble, there is a cloud web scraper.

The cloud web scraper extracts data from websites without using your computer's resources. This helps your computer focus on other tasks.

What Can Web Scraping Used For?

1. Market research

What are your customers doing? What about your potential customers? How does your competitor's pricing compare to yours?

Quality data captured on the website can be very helpful to a company in analyzing consumers and planning which direction the company should take in the future.

  • Collect data from e-commerce sites about products, pricing, and consumer reviews.
  • Monitor competitors' websites to track their pricing, product launches, and promotions.
  • Extract stock prices, financial reports, and market news for investment analysis.

2. Content tracking

Nothing is more valuable than staying informed. From monitoring reputations to tracking industry trends, web scraping is an invaluable tool for staying informed. Information needs to be tracked and synchronized with web scraping technology.

  • Gather news articles from a variety of sources to display on a single platform.
  • Aggregate job postings from multiple job boards into a searchable database.
  • To compile property information from different real estate websites.

3. Academic and research purposes

  • Data mining: Collecting large datasets for academic research, such as collecting scientific publications or statistical data.
  • Sentiment analysis: Businesses can use web scrapers to collect data from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to perform sentiment analysis and opinion mining on consumers by extracting posts, product reviews, or news articles.

4. Monitoring and alerts

  • Price monitoring: Track changes in product prices over time and set up alerts for price reductions.
  • Website monitoring: Monitor changes to website content, such as TOS updates or new product releases.

5. Business Automation

  • Form submission: Automate the process of filling out and submitting forms on your website.
  • Content update: Automatically update information on your own website by scraping data from other sources.

6. Business analysis

  • Lead generation: Collect contact information and other relevant details from websites for sales and marketing purposes.
  • Customer insight: Analyze customer reviews and feedback to gain insight into customer preferences and pain points.

7. eCommerce

  • Product information: Capture product details, specifications, and images to create product catalogs.
  • Inventory tracking: Monitor inventory levels and product availability from different vendors.

8. SEO and digital marketing

  • Keyword analysis: Extract keywords from competitors' websites for SEO strategies.
  • Backlink analysis: Collect backlink data to understand link-building strategies and improve search engine rankings.

9. Travel and hospitality

  • Price comparison: Compare prices of flights, hotels, and car rentals on different travel websites.
  • Review aggregation: Collect reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions for travel planning websites.

10. Public data access

  • Government data: Extract public data from government websites for analysis and reporting.
  • Open data: Collects data from open data portals for use in various applications.

Web scraping using Nstbrowser

Web scraping using Nstbrowser

How to do web scraping efficiently and easily? How do we avoid website blocking and CAPTCHA recognition? How do we minimize the cost of scraping websites?

Nstbrowser can solve all your troubles!

High-quality data scraping. As an anti-detect browser, Nstbrowser offers state-of-the-art infrastructure, talented developers, and extensive experience to ensure that there is no missing or incorrect data.

Completely unblock websites. Nstbrowser has the most comprehensive website unblocker program. It can easily unblock websites with Web Unblocker, Captcha Solver, Intelligent IP Rotation, and Premium Proxies, guaranteeing seamless web scraping.

Free to use. Nstbrowser is now a completely free fingerprint browser. Simply download and log in to experience unlimited Profiles and unlimited environment configurations.

Legal compliance. You may not know all the do's and don'ts of web scraping, but a counter-inspection service provider with an in-house team of legal professionals certainly does. Nstbrowser will make sure that you are always compliant.

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Is Web Scraping Legal?

It was mentioned above to ensure the legality of web scraping. So, is the web scraping activity itself legal?

In short, the act of web scraping is not illegal and there is no specific law against web scraping.

However, there are some rules you need to follow. In some cases, web scraping may violate other laws or regulations, thus making web scraping illegal.

For example:

  • Using a web scraping tool to log into a web page or website and then download data. Users logging into a website must agree to the Terms of Service, which may prohibit activities such as automated data collection.
  • Scraping protected public data. There may be fewer restrictions on crawling public data than private information, but you must still ensure that you are not violating the laws that apply to such data, such as downloading copyrighted data, including designs, layouts, articles, videos, and anything that could be considered a creative work.
  • When ToS prohibits any form of automated data collection. In this case, it is not the use of data that is illegal, but the scraping activity itself.
  • Grabbing non-public data. This is clearly illegal.

4 general advice for the best web scraping practices

1. Use APIs instead of scraping

Many websites provide specialized API interfaces for developers to fetch data. APIs are usually more stable and efficient than web crawling, and place less of a burden on the web server.

So, before developing a scraper, find out if the target website provides an API interface and check the API documentation. If the API meets the demand, prioritize the use of API to get data.

2. Respect the website's ToS

Terms of service usually contain the provisions of the website on data usage and data collection. Violation of these terms may result in legal issues or banning.

Carefully read the terms of service of the target website before performing data scraping. If the terms explicitly prohibit crawling, do not perform the scraper.

3. Respect robots.txt

The robots.txt file instructs web scrapers on which pages can be scraped and which pages cannot. Although robots.txt is not a legal document, respecting it is a form of netiquette.

When writing a scraper, first check and parse the robots.txt file of the target website. You can use a robots.txt parsing library to do this automatically.

The crawled data may be protected by copyright. Using or publishing this data may violate copyright laws.

So, confirming the copyright status of crawled data is super important before using or distributing it. If the data is copyrighted, obtain written permission from the copyright owner before using or distributing it.

The Best Web Scraper

Great! Now that you know all the basics of web scraping, what is the best web scraper for you?

We highly recommend Nstbrowser.

Not only is it free to download and use, but it comes with a very powerful set of features:

  • Friendly user interface
  • Powerful website unlocking technology
  • Efficient web scraping capabilities
  • Excellent customer support

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