Technology

Understanding Web Scraping and Its Uses

There are some websites out there that contain large amounts of data that some individuals or companies see as highly valuable. These include things such as company contacts, sports statistics, product details, stock prices, plus many more. The traditional way of accessing this information would be to copy it and then manually paste it into a new document. For large data sets this would be a long and laborious process.

Web Scraping

However, there is a much easier, faster, and less costly way of doing this and is a process that is known as web scraping. Once the data has been extracted from the website, it is then exported into an API, spreadsheet, or other format that is of much more use to the end user. 

Because web scrapers come with a range of different features and functionality, knowing how they work and how to use them correctly can be difficult at the start, but once you get to grips with them, you can soon start to begin reaping the benefits.

Workings

An automated web scraper works in a way that is both simple, yet highly complex. Before the scraping process begins, the web scraper is fed either a single or multiple different URLs. Once it has these, the HTML code for all of the pages in question are loaded up and the extraction process begins, either taking all the data from a page or just a specific predetermined (by the user) set of data. 

The format in which this data output is displayed in can come in many different forms. However, it is most typically in the form of an Excel spreadsheet or a CSV file. Some of the other formats include the likes of JSON, which can be used when the process is being performed by an API. 

One such API is the one by Zenscrape, which is able to handle any and all of the problems that are typically related to the use of web scraping. You can try this tool free of charge at this link. 

Uses

There are numerous different ways in which the technique of web scraping can be used and includes things such as obtaining stock prices, financial markets data for research purposes, leads from business directories, product details for comparisons, store locations, general data before website migration, sports statistics for betting purposes.

As is evident from the above, web scraping has as almost an endless number of eventualities that it can and is used for by both companies and individuals all over the world.

Armed with this information, you should now have a better understanding of what exactly web scraping is, how the process works, and how it can benefit you in either a professional or personal setting, or even in both. If you think you would like to use one, you have the option of either building one yourself, just like you could with a website, or using a pre built one that has been put together by professionals within this industry.