Various methods exist for businesses and individuals to gather customer information, including web crawling and scraping. There is no direct connection between these terms, although they are often used interchangeably.
This article aims to help you understand the difference between crawling vs. scraping and how they are related. Also, we’ll talk about some relevant use cases for both approaches and tools.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with better insight into crawling vs. scraping and how they differ.
Web Crawling is the primary function of search engines. It is all about analyzing a page in its entirety and indexing it. The term web crawling is also known as indexing, and it is used to index the information on a web page by using bots, or crawlers, to index the information on a given web page. During a website crawl, a bot looks at every page and link, down to the last line of the website, looking for any information.
Statistical agencies, large online aggregators, and several search engines use web crawlers. A web crawler captures generic information, while a web scraper takes specific data set snippets.
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Web scraping, also known as web data extraction, is identifying and locating the target data on web pages. Web scraping differs in that we know the identifier of the data set. For example, we know the HTML element structure of the page for which data needs to be extracted.
Using bots, also known as scrapers, web scraping uses automated tools to extract data from websites. A business can use the collected information for comparison, verification, and analysis based on its goals and needs.
- Real-time data without IP blocks for specific countries
- Don’t pay unless your results are successful
- Infrastructure for web scraping that does not require maintenance
Defining the data you want to scrape before you start web scraping will help your scraper work faster and more efficiently. You can save time and resources if you know beforehand that you want pricing data but not reviews for a specific product on Amazon.
Once you have collected all the data you want, the web scraper will put that data in the specified format. CSV files or Excel spreadsheets are most commonly used. Some allow you to return a JSON object that may be used in API calls.
An API must start with a link to a specific website page, which is typically an initial starting point. When it gets that link, it goes through the other links. After understanding the type of content on each page, it will create its map.
Site maps are also an excellent place for crawlers to start. This gives them a better idea of how a website organizes its content. A powerful starting point for sites with large numbers of pages that aren’t well linked, new sites with few external links, or those with many rich media links.
Crawlability is usually optimized for SEO. In search engine results, websites with easy-to-find content rank higher because they are easier to find by web crawlers. Crawling a website can be done in a few different ways. Taking notes about which pages on multiple websites contain information relevant to your search is one way to do web crawling manually. Most often, automating this process is done with a tool.
Businesses use web scraping in several ways to achieve their business goals.
A research project often involves data, whether purely academic or for marketing, financial, or other business purposes. Identifying behavioral patterns and collecting user data in real time can be crucial to stopping a global pandemic or identifying a specific target audience.
Companies, especially those in the eCom space, need to perform regular market analyses to maintain a competitive edge. Prices, reviews, inventory, special offers, and the like are all relevant data collected by front-end and backend retail businesses.
Data collection is integral to protecting against brand fraud and dilution and spotting malicious actors who take advantage of corporate intellectual property (names, logos, copyright, etc.). By collecting data, companies can identify cybercriminals, monitor them, and take action against them.
A web crawler is most commonly used by search engines such as Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo to index and find information. Web crawlers are used by search engines like Google to index sites based on the content they have available to bots. In search results, the bot will rank websites that contain relevant information according to how they appear in their search results.
Using a web crawler is beneficial for many other reasons. Several examples can be found here.
- Ahrefs and Moz are SEO analytics tools marketers use for researching keywords and identifying competitors
- Search engine optimization analysis of websites to find errors, such as 404 and 500 pages
- Finding product pages based on price monitoring tools
- Using a tool like Common Crawl, you can collaborate on academic research
By using web scrapers, you can ensure that all the information you receive is 100% accurate by removing human error from the process.
A Cost-Effective Solution
Using web scraping to gather content can be more cost-effective since you will need fewer staff and often benefit from a completely automated solution without investing in infrastructure.
A Definite Target_
With web scrapers, you can select the data points you want to collect. You can decide whether to collect images instead of videos or pricing instead of descriptions for a particular job. As a result, you can save time, bandwidth, and money in the long run.
An In-depth Look
Every target page is indexed in depth using this method. The World Wide Web’s deep underbelly can help uncover and collect information.
When it comes to companies looking for real-time insight into their target data sets, web crawling is the more effective as it allows them to adapt to current developments quickly.
Assurance of Quality
It has been proven that crawlers can assess the quality of the content more efficiently, so it can provide an advantage in performing QA operations, for example.
Here we will do a crawling vs scraping comparison.
A web crawler typically outputs lists of URLs as its main output. Linking is typically the primary by-product, but other fields or information may also be present.
In terms of scraping the web, the output can be URLs, but the scope is much broader, and a variety of fields can be included as part of the output, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Prices of products/stocks
- Indicator of how many people view/like/share (a proxy for social engagement) a post
- Reviews by customers
- Star ratings of competitors’ products
- Advertisements collected from industry publications
- Query results as they appear in search engines, and chronologically ordered results
Blockades of Data
Data collection on many websites can be challenging due to anti-scraping/crawling policies. It is sometimes possible to circumvent these types of blocks using a web scraping service, mainly if they give you access to large proxy networks that can help you collect data using real IP addresses.
High Labor Intensity
Performing large-scale data crawling/scraping jobs can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. Data sets that were once necessary only occasionally but are now needed regularly can no longer be collected manually by companies.
Capacity Limitations for Collection
Performing data scraping/crawling is usually relatively easy if the target site is relatively simpler; however, when you encounter one of the tougher targets, some IP blocks can be challenging to overcome.
The fact that web scraping and web crawling are frequently performed needs to be clarified. A business usually crawls the pages of other websites to gather information about their content as they go, extracting information from the content.
The use of web crawlers for the de-duplication of data is also beneficial. Articles and products are often posted on multiple sites, for instance. Crawlers are capable of identifying duplicate data and not indexing it again. Then, when you’re ready to scrape the web, you’ll save time and resources. All the useful data you find will only be available to you once.
After performing web crawling to identify the websites on which you can find the information you seek, you can conduct web scraping for more targeted research. It will save you time and money if you create a list of relevant websites from your web crawling, so you will only have to scrape information from sites with the data you need.
Using web crawling and scraping together is one of the best ways to create a completely automated process for capturing data from the internet. If you want to generate a list of links with API calls and store them in a format that your web scraper can use to extract data from these particular pages, you can do so via API calls and store the list of links in format. When you have a system like this in place, you can access data from all over the internet without having to do a lot of manual work once you have implemented it.
A crawler that automatically scans new products added to an e-commerce website would be an example. For each new product, a scraper extracts the new product’s data, such as its price, images, code, or description.
Crawlbase offers a variety of cutting-edge solutions for those looking to perform web scraping on the web. Web crawling’ is the process of indexing data on web pages, while ‘web scraping is the process of extracting that data. Crawlbase’s goal is consistently finding the best/quickest way to collect open-source target data points by utilizing Machine Learning algorithms. A zero-code web scraper is a fully automated tool that delivers data directly to your email inbox without writing any code.