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What is Web Scraping? - Expert Advice, Tools and Strategies to Get Started

What is Web Scraping? - Expert Advice, Tools and Strategies to Get Started

February 15, 2021

Web scraping is a technique of extracting information from websites. It is mostly used to extract data that cannot be obtained any other way, or that can be obtained more easily, quickly and cheaply. Web scraping can also be used to harvest data that has been created by other web scrapers, known as crowdsourcing. Web scraping focuses on extracting the data from websites and presenting it in a useful form, such as a table, graph or spreadsheet. This type of tool is most often used in projects such as search engines, web indices and data mining. In this blog post we'll explore what web scrapers do, how they work and what you can do with them. We will also discuss some of the best tools for beginners to get started with their first scrape!

What is Web scraping?

Scraping is a process of extracting data from sources that are intended for various purposes. It is also a common technique used to gather data for big data projects. Data scraping can be used to collect data from websites, social media platforms, files and other sources. Web data extraction is used by individuals, scientists and businesses to collect publicly available information and make decisions.

Types of Web Scrapers

There are two types of web scrapers:
- Passive web scrapers: these are scrapers which only interact with a website when the website is accessed by the scraper. They do not send requests to the server at any other time.
- Active/Recurring web scrapers: these are scrapers which interact with websites on a regular basis, and send requests to the target site's server.

Why Use Web Scraping?

There are many reasons why you might want to use web scraping:
- To collect data that is not easily accessible or is hidden behind a login screen.
- To gather data from multiple sources into one place.
- To automate the process of gathering data so that it can be done quickly and efficiently.
- To avoid having to copy and paste data manually.

How Does Web Scraping Work?

The basic process of web scraping is as follows:
1. Find the website that you want to scrape.
2. Inspect the website to find the data that you want to extract.
3. Write a program or script to extract the data.
4. Run the program or script and save the data in a format of your choice.

Tools for Web Scraping

Web scraping tools are a software or script that read the website and gathers required data points. There are many tools to start web scraping that are free and paid. Most popular tool is Scrapy, but it's not the only one. Other popular tools include Parsel and Selenium (which are both browser automation tools). Before delving into any of these tools, though, here's a brief overview of the different techniques you can use to manually scrape websites.

Conclusion

Web scraping is a piece of software that reads the web pages and extracts the data. The hard part is figuring out what data you want to extract from the web. Once you know that, you can use one of the many scraping tools to extract the data from the web pages and turn it into a format that you can use for your purposes. Worry not, there is an abundance of free and premium web scraping tools available to help you out!

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