If you’re not currently using web scraping as part of your arsenal, you’re definitely leaving out a huge opportunity to gain an edge over your competition.

If you’re like most salespeople, you’re always looking for an edge over the competition. You want to find new leads, strengthen relationships with current customers, and get a better understanding of your industry as a whole.

Web scraping can help you do all of those things and more. Think about all of the times you wished you could just get a list of all the companies in your industry that are located in a certain city. Or maybe you wanted to get a list of all the contacts at a certain company.

Web scraping can help you get that information quickly and easily. But what is it, and how does it work? In this blog post, we’ll answer those questions and more. So keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this powerful tool!

What is web scraping?

Imagine you had to look at something like this all day. Fun, right…?

Now imagine if there’s a way to sort through all of that data in a matter of seconds to come up with an organized set. That’s basically what scraping data is.

In short, web scraping is a way to extract data from websites. It’s usually done automatically by computers, but can also be done manually.

There are a few different ways to do it, but the basic idea is to load a web page and then parse through the HTML code to find the data you want. Once you’ve found the data you want, you can then save it to a file or database for later use.

Web scraping can be useful for a wide variety of tasks, like getting a list of all the product names and prices from an online store, or extracting data from a web forum to see what people are saying about a certain topic.

Is web scraping free?

Most web scraping tools are free to use, although there are some paid options out there. The paid options usually offer more features and are easier to use, but the free options will typically get the job done just fine.

This is a common question, and the answer is… it depends. In general, it’s perfectly fine to scrape public data from websites. However, if you’re scraping data that’s meant to be private (like someone’s contact information), then you could get into some legal trouble.

It’s always a good idea to check the terms of service for the website you’re scraping to make sure you’re not violating any rules.

Okay, so that’s what the fuss is about, but how does web scraping actually benefit your business?

Why do you need web scraping?

The most obvious web scraping advantage is that it can save you a lot of time.

Imagine if you had to manually copy and paste data from websites every time you wanted to do some market research. It would take forever! But with web scraping, you can have all the data you need in just a few minutes.

Another big advantage is that it can help you get data that would be difficult or impossible to get any other way. For example, if you want to research a new market, web scraping can help you quickly and easily get a list of all the companies in that market.

Furthermore, web scraping can be used for a variety of tasks, some of the most common uses include:

  • Lead generation: Scraping data from websites can be a great way to find new leads. For example, you could scrape data from a directory of businesses to find all the companies in your industry that are located in a certain city.
  • Market research: Web scraping can be used to collect data about a certain industry or market. This data can then be analyzed to help you better understand the market as a whole.
  • Competitor analysis: Keeping an eye on your competition is important in any business. By scraping data from their websites, you can get a better understanding of their products, pricing, and marketing strategies.

Now that we’ve introduced you to web scraping and shown you some of its benefits, let’s take a look at the basics of how it works.

How does web scraping work?

Web scraping is typically done automatically by computers, but can also be done manually.

There are a few different ways to do it, but the basic idea is to load a web page and then parse through the HTML code to find the data you want. Once you’ve found the data you want, you can then extract it to a file or database for later use.

For example, let’s say you want to scrape data from an online store to get a list of all the product names and prices.

First, you would need to find and load the web page you want to scrape.

Then, you would need to write some code that would parse through the HTML code of the web page and extract the data you’re interested in.

Lastly, you would need to save the data to a file or database.

Web scraping can be done in a variety of programming languages, but the most popular ones are Python, Java, and PHP.

If you’re just getting started with web scraping, we recommend using a tool like ParseHub or Scrapy. These tools make it easy to scrape data from websites without having to write any code.

What are some web scraping best practices?

Now that you know the basics of web scraping, let’s take a look at some best practices to keep in mind.

Check the terms of service

As we mentioned before, it’s always a good idea to check the terms of service for the website you’re scraping. This will ensure that you’re not breaking any rules and avoid any potential trouble -legal or otherwise- down the road. It’s also a good idea to get permission from the website owner before scraping their site because some webmasters may not be too happy about it.

Use the right tools

There are a variety of different web scraping tools available, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

We’ll go over a full list of the best web scraping tools later in this guide, but for the sake of this point, we’ll just mention a few of the most popular ones:

  • Scrapy: Scrapy is a web scraping framework written in Python. It’s one of the most popular tools available and is used by big names like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook.
  • ParseHub: ParseHub is a web scraper that supports a wide variety of languages and web platforms.
  • Octoparse: Octoparse is another web scraper that supports both static and dynamic web pages.

Don’t overload servers

When you scrape data from websites, it’s important not to overload their servers with too many requests. This can lead to your IP address being banned from the website. To avoid this, make sure to space out your requests and don’t make too many at once.

Handle errors gracefully

It’s inevitable that you’ll run into errors at some point. Whether it’s a website that’s down or data that’s not in the format you expected, it’s important to have patience and a gentle touch when dealing with these errors. You don’t want to risk breaking anything because you’re in too much of a hurry.

Review your data regularly

It’s important to review your data regularly. Sometimes, web pages change and the data you’re extracting might no longer be accurate. Reviewing your data regularly will help ensure that you’re always getting accurate information.

Scrape responsibly

It’s important to be respectful of the websites you’re scraping. This means not scraping too much data, not scraping too often, and not scraping sensitive data. Also, make sure to keep your scraper up-to-date so that it doesn’t inadvertently break any website you’re scraping.

Know when to stop

There will be times when you won’t be able to get the data you want from a website. When this happens, it’s important to know when to stop and move on. Don’t waste your time trying to force your web scraper to work – there are other websites out there with the data you need.

These are just a few of the best practices to keep in mind when performing data extraction. Following these guidelines will help ensure that you have a positive experience and avoid any potential problems.

5 of the best web scraping tools

As we mentioned before, there are a variety of web scrapers available ranging from complex frameworks to simple tools. In this section, we’ll go over a few of the most popular scraping tools.

Now… we’ve already mentioned the basic tools like Scrapy and ParseHub, so we’ll just quickly go over a few of the others.

Python

Python is one of the most obvious choices for your web scraping needs. It is a versatile scripting language that can be used for well… data scraping, as well as a wide range of other tasks.

The main advantage of using Python’s web scraping software is that it is relatively easy to learn and use.

Additionally, Python has a wide range of libraries and modules that can be used for web data extraction, making it a remarkably powerful tool.

One downside is that Python web scrapers can be slow, particularly if they are trying to scrape large amounts of data.

In addition, some websites can block its access which means that oftentimes, web scraping with Python can be more time-consuming and difficult than using other web scraping tools.

Overall, web data extraction using Python has both advantages and drawbacks, but it remains a popular choice for many people looking to scrape data from the web.

Import.io

import.io logo

This is a web data extraction tool that allows you to scrape data from websites without having to write any code. It’s one of the most user-friendly web scraping tools available and bonus: it’s great for beginners!

It includes awesome features like:

  • A user-friendly point-and-click interface
  • The ability to scrape data from behind a login
  • Automatic IP rotation to avoid being banned

What makes import.io so great is that it can scrape data from multiple pages on a website. This is useful if you want to scrape data from a large website with many pages. However, this also means that it can be slow when scraping data from websites containing a ton of pages.

Another advantage of import.io is that it can scrape data from websites that are “difficult” to scrape: meaning it can bypass some of the protection mechanisms that websites use to prevent scraping. That said, you run the risk of the tool breaking when websites change their protection mechanisms.

Overall, import.io is a great tool for quickly gathering data from the web, but it’s important to be aware of its limitations.

Mozenda

Mozenda is another web scraping tool that doesn’t require any coding. It includes features like web page rendering, web page crawling, and data extraction.

It’s a great solution because it’s easy to use and can be configured to scrape data from almost any website.

One of the main advantages of using Mozenda is that it’s very fast and efficient. It can handle large amounts of data very quickly and easily.

Furthermore, it’s very user-friendly. The user interface is intuitive and easy to use. There’s also a wide range of online resources available to help you get started with web scraping using this tool.

However, one of the main drawbacks is that it’s quite expensive. If you’re only planning on web scraping for personal use, then Mozenda may not be the best option for you.

It also doesn’t always work perfectly. Sometimes websites can change their structure or design, which can cause problems with your web scraping.

Apify

Apify logo

As a web scraping platform, Apify enables you to turn websites into structured data. It offers a wide range of features, including the ability to scrape dynamic web pages, create APIs, and crawl entire websites.

While Apify is a powerful tool, it has some limitations:

First, it is not free to use, so if you’re short on cash, it might not be the best option for you. It can also be challenging to set up and use, particularly for users who are not familiar with web scraping.

Be that as it may, this is one of the most scalable web scrapers you can use. The platform can handle large-scale scrapes, making it ideal for businesses that need to gather data on a scale.

Nonetheless, this scalability comes with a downside; because Apify can handle such large-scale scrapes, it can be more prone to errors, and some data may be lost during the scraping process.

Altogether, Apify remains a popular web scraping platform due to its flexibility and range of features. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use web scraping platform with a wide range of features, Apify may be a good option for you.

DiffBot

Diffbot is a web scraping software that uses artificial intelligence to extract data from web pages. It offers a wide range of features, including the ability to web scrape on a large scale, crawl websites, and extract data from JavaScript web pages.

The main advantage of using Diffbot is that it’s very precise. The tool is able to extract specific data with a high degree of accuracy, meaning you’re less likely to encounter errors when using the tool. It also has the ability to scrape data from multiple pages and the ability to handle AJAX requests, which is always a plus.

Moreover, it’s very user-friendly. The user interface is intuitive and easy to use, and there’s a wide range of online resources available to help you get started with web scraping using Diffbot.

However, one of the biggest disadvantages of Diffbot is that it’s quite expensive along with its inability to scrape data from sites that use JavaScript to load content.

What’s more, it also needs to have a website that is well structured for it to work to its fullest potential. If not, the data scraping process can be quite slow.

Enjoy scraping the web… with caution!

Web scraping can be a great way to gather data from the web. It’s fast, efficient, and relatively easy to do. However, there are some things you need to be aware of before you start web scraping.

First, web scraping can be illegal in some cases. If you’re planning on web scraping for commercial purposes, you need to make sure that you have the legal right to do so.

Second, web scraping can be challenging. While there are many web scraping tools available that are quite user-friendly and don’t require any coding, some websites can be more difficult to scrape than others.

Last, web scraping can be time-consuming. If you’re planning on web scraping a large website, it might take some time to get all of the data you need.

Nonetheless, web scraping can be a great way to gather data quickly and efficiently. Just make sure you’re aware of the risks involved before you start web scraping.

Happy scraping!