Everyone has heard of web scraping at some point or another, the process of collecting information from the internet. Scraping could be anything, from copying and pasting a piece of text to automatized data collection on a large scale. Even as you read this text, you’re basically scraping for data. Read on to learn more about this process and who can benefit from it.
How Web Scraping Works and How it’s Used
When someone refers to web scraping (also known as web crawling, data mining, or data extraction), they usually mean the automated process of collecting data with a piece of software. A fantastic example of this procedure would be gathering pricing data from Amazon or similar sites for insight into price fluctuation over a specific period. If you wanted to gather this data, you’d have to send many automated requests to the site to get the information and register every change that occurs.
Modern web scraping tools gather information and convert it into a usable format. It’s usually turned into spreadsheets for small scraping projects, but more elaborate ones can use JSON files or APIs, which generally offer better customization options. Either way, the procedure is more or less the same in most cases – you run a program, set the formatting options, and tell it where to store this information.
Who Uses Web Scraping and Why
Web scraping is a prevalent practice among data analysts, data scientists, different types of researchers, and developers. They all use it to gather large amounts of information they can analyze. Companies often use data crawling to monitor market trends, the competition, protect their brand, find new leads, and explore new markets. End users utilize web scraping to find the best deals and get their hands on hard-to-get items like special edition sneakers. You can visit https://iproyal.com/sneaker-proxies/ to find out more.
No aggregator app, website, or service would function without web scraping. News aggregators can pull in relevant articles from all over the world. Stock market monitoring apps can gather relevant data and make accurate predictions based on the current trends in the market. Booking sites use complex data gathering setups to get pricing from all over the world, whether it’s hotel accommodation, airfare deals, or anything else.
How to Begin Web Scraping
If you’re interested in putting together a web scraping project of your own, the first thing you should figure out is what kind of data you’re interested in and where to get it from. Once that’s out of the way, it’s a fairly simple process thanks to different available solutions you can use, each offering specific advantages and disadvantages.
Once you’ve gathered your sources, you need to figure out where you want to store the gathered data. You can use local storage or use a cloud platform. You can code your own custom web scraper or find an existing solution that has the features you need. Depending on your project’s complexity, you can go with simple scraping browser extensions, highly customizable software solutions, or anything in between.
Web scraping browser extensions are usually easy to get running because they’re a part of your browser. On the other hand, they’re often very limited and don’t offer any advanced features you may need. If you need a massive data-gathering setup, it’s probably best to go with a specialized solution with advanced features you can’t find in browser extensions or DIY setups.
What to Keep an Eye on When Web Scraping
If you’re gathering publicly available data, web scraping is completely legal. However, certain websites have developed protection against it and can make things a bit challenging. Most of the time, they will block a particular IP address when they notice it sends a large number of requests toward the site. Others introduce limitations like CAPTCHAs to prevent automatic scraping.
The easiest way to deal with this is by using a proxy service with many residential proxy servers worldwide. By using proxies, your scraper becomes immune to all types of blocks thanks to IP rotation. Every single request comes with a different IP address indistinguishable from a genuine visitor. This protects your own IP address and privacy. If you’re after geo-restricted information from a particular region, proxy servers from that location will make sure the data you gather is 100% accurate.
Data makes a huge part of our lives, so we’re all involved in some type of web scraping even if we don’t know it. Whenever you read the news or use your favorite shopping app, web scraping makes finding what you’re looking for easier. If you plan to get into web scraping, don’t forget to get educated on the subject and pick a solution that works best.