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Web Scraping: Mean, Benefits, Methods & Differences of Web Crawling

Last updated: Aug 25, 2023

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In this guide, we will discuss the meaning of web scraping, its benefits, and the techniques for doing it. Let's check out the explanation below.

In the world of data science, there are lots of techniques and terms that you need to learn. The data collection techniques that can be carried out are quite diverse, and they are certainly easier to implement than having to manually create a survey.

Web scraping is one of the data collection techniques that you can use. This technique allows you to retrieve large amounts of data in a short amount of time.

What is Web Scraping?

web scraping illustration
Figure 1: Illustration of Retrieving Website Data, or Web Scraping

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from a website. The data obtained will be collected and then exported into a format that is easier for users to analyze, such as an API or a spreadsheet.

If you have ever copied and pasted content from a website into an Excel spreadsheet, then you have done the practice on a very small scale.

However, the actual scraping from a website requires the involvement of the web scraper in the data collection process. Web scrapers are programmed to enter a website, fetch the relevant pages, and extract the required information.

In this process, a web scraper can extract large amounts of data in a very short time. So, is scraping a website considered to be a legal activity?

Basically, scraping, or taking data that is already available in the public domain, is legal as long as you use the data for ethical purposes. If a website wants to prevent data collection activity, they can use several security techniques, such as CAPTCHA forms.

In addition, there is software that allows you to scrape anonymously by using a VPN or proxy server.

Web Scraping Benefits

After knowing what kind of activity scraping a website is, now is the time for you to know what the benefits are. You can find the full explanation below.

1. Product Price Optimization

When you scrape data from a website, you can optimize product prices. As you know, determining the price of a product or service is quite difficult. One way is to analyze the market and competitors.

At the very least, website data collection can help you analyze the prices of your competitors' products. Following that, you will receive several considerations before optimizing the price of the product or service you provide. 

2. Finding Information about A Company

The second benefit of scraping data from a website is finding certain information about a company. For those of you who get a business offer to work with a certain company, you need to make sure that the company is a credible institution and is worthy of being your partner.

One way you can do this is to collect information about the company through the website's data collection process. In doing so, you have conducted a small investigation into the company directly.

3. Get Leads

For those of you who are active in the world of digital marketing, getting new leads is a very important thing to do. This is because these leads have the potential to become potential customers for the products or services you offer.

In this case, website data retrieval can be used to obtain a number of pieces of information, such as competitor follower copy data and copies of their email address data. 

Web Scraping Methods

web scraping techniques
Figure 2: Illustration of Applying One of the Web Scraping Techniques

To collect website data, there are several methods you can use. You can find out more information in the explanation below.

1. Parsing HTML

HTML parsing is one of the web scraping techniques you should know. The way to do it is by sending HTTP requests to the website server that is the target of data extraction.

HTML parsing is a technique that allows you to collect large amounts of data in a short amount of time. Data scraping using this technique can be done on static or dynamic websites.

However, using this technique too often can get you banned from your target websites. This is because HTML parsing techniques can't bypass the system protection applied by the website.

2. Copy Data Manually

Copying data manually is the simplest technique to do. This technique takes longer because you need to fetch each piece of data one by one.

This technique is suitable for those of you who want to retrieve information from a limited number of websites. In terms of data retrieval, this method is one of the most accurate. Why?

Because, in this technique, you already know where the data you want to retrieve from a website is located. As a result, this manual technique is regarded as one of the most effective scraping methods.

3. DOM Analysis

DOM, or Document Object Model, represents the structure of web pages programmed with HTML code.

The DOM of the page that is used as the scraping target will be loaded first during the HTML parsing process. This is what distinguishes DOM analysis as one of the website data retrieval techniques available.

The DOM, which also carries HTML files during the parsing process, is ultimately used as an alternative for scraping on dynamic websites if the HTML parsing technique fails.

4. Using Google Sheets

Who would have thought you could easily extract website data? You only need to use the Google Sheets that you normally use for daily work. This website data collection technique is one that is quite easy to do. The trick is to use a browser that has the inspect element feature.

After that, you can copy the XPath expression of the website page element that is the scraping target. Save a copy to the IMPORTXML in Google Sheets.

Thus, the guide to web scraping that you need to know. For those of you who are active in the world of digital marketing, collecting data for analysis purposes is a very important thing to do.

This is because website data retrieval is a technique that can help you analyze competitors' services or products.

Apart from collecting website data to analyze competitors, you also need to use SEO services to help you develop a detailed and measurable marketing strategy to win the competition.

Differences Between Web Scraping and Web Crawling

Even though they sound similar at first glance, in fact, crawling and scraping a website are two different activities. After knowing what the benefits are, now is the time for you to know its differences from web crawling. See the following explanation:

Web Scraping

Web Crawling

The process of extracting data from a websiteThe technique of collecting data by entering a URL
Collecting data with HTTPUsing the API as a medium of communication to get data
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