What is Web Scraping

What is Web Scraping and What is it Used For? | Definition, Examples, and Business Benefits


Have you noticed that a lot of websites tend to contain innumerable data that feels unnecessary? Collecting the data that you need could be a tedious job.

Moreover, you will have to copy-paste this information onto a new document to access the data. But what if we say that there is a way for you to be relieved from this mundane task?

This is where the web scraping comes in. Although the copy-paste task can be done manually, with the help of web scraping you can collect the details that you want in a structured manner.

In this article, we have covered the definition of web scraping and what is used for. Along with that we have also mentioned a few examples and their business benefits.

So, let us get started!

What is Web Scraping?

Web scraping can also be referred to as web data extraction or web harvesting. It is a process of extracting data from a website. 

Web scraper is a tool used for this process. This tool is specially designed in such a way as to extract data in an accurate manner. Also, this process does not take up a lot of your time. It is designed in a way to get the task quickly done. 

A lot of people and businesses have started to make use of web scraping proxies to quicken the process of data extraction. It basically comprises two different elements, a proxy and a web scraper.

Many use this in order to scrape through the website to collect data anonymously. This use of proxies means your IP is dynamic which reduces the chances of getting banned or blocked.

Different Kinds of Web Scraping Tools

When it comes to web scrapers there are quite different kinds to it. We have described these different kinds of web scrapers for your reference below. They are:

  • User Interface

The user interface tends to vary to quite an extent. People find it confusing when a web scraper functions with a minimal UI as well as a command line.

Whereas in another case, there are web scrapers that consist of a completely developed UI. People who do not have enough technical knowledge, find this kind of web scraper easier to use.

Few web scrapers tend to make sure that their user can understand every different feature that is offered by the software. 

  • Cloud vs Local Web Scraper

It is always better to use a cloud-based web scraper than a local web scraper.

The cloud-based web scraper tends to run and collect data using an off-site server that is provided by the developer of the scraper itself. This way you won’t be slowed down. And the process happens in a fast-paced manner.

Using a local web scraper can slow down your process of collecting data. As it uses your internet connection and resources, you can’t get things done at a specific time.

Using a cloud-based is thus an advantage as it can help you from being blocked while scraping. 

  • Self-Built & Pre-Built

One can build their own web scraper.

But building your own web scraper will require a lot of technical knowledge as well as advanced programming knowledge to build the one with the best features.

The thing about self-built is that you can customize it the way you want. This will result in a web scraper that is tailor made for your purposes.

You can also make use of the pre-built web scrapers that are already built and are ready to use. All you will have to do is download them and run them on your system.

  • Browser Extension vs Computer Software

Browser extension and Computer software are the two different forms of web scrapers.

The browser extension, as the name suggests, can be added to your existing browser and put into use. Some have ad blockers and themes included with them.

But using a Browser extension can not help you in acquiring the updated features that are present.

On the other hand, a computer software web scraper will help you in acquiring the updated features of a web scraper. These web scrapers can be downloaded on your computer and installed later.

The Uses of Web Scraping: Their Examples and Business Benefits

With what we have mentioned, you would have come to different conclusions about what it could be used for. If not, it’s no problem. We have listed a few of the many things for which you could use a web scraper.

  1. For Market Research

As businesses grow, it is necessary to consistently research the market. Many businesses use web scraping in order to collect information on the latest trends in the market, market pricing, and many more.

For example, a product manufacturing company can do some research and find the latest trends for a product in the market and design it in such a way with the help of web scraping.

In this way, you get to be on top of your game in the industry.

  1. For Pricing Information

A web scraper is mostly used for collecting data on pricing information. You don’t want to be the one to sell your products at a low price or an unprofitable rate.

Business people tend to extract a product and pricing information to fix the correct rate for their product.

For instance, with in-depth research, you can price a product something like a laptop at a rate that you are confident about. As you will have an idea about the best pricing with in-depth research done with web scraping. 

  1. For Real Estate

In recent times, a lot of real estate agents have begun to use web scraping to list out the properties that are either available for rent or sale. It helps to populate their database.

For instance, a real estate company can scrape through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listing in order to build an Application Programming Interface (API). This, in turn, fills their site with the required information.

This helps the real estate agents in making the right decision in their field.

  1. For Brand Monitoring

This is an important reason for many people to use the web scraper. In recent times, there has been a huge increase in different brands. It is important to have an eye on these brands to stay on top of your game.

For example, a web scraper can help you to know how customers perceive your products and with that information, you can either think about how to improve and make it even better.

Final Thoughts

The process of web scraping allows one to conduct in-depth research and have knowledge about different things to up their business.  To be on top in your industry, you will need to use the best web scraping tool.