Web scraping is a process that collects data from the internet. Screen scraping, while less popular, is used to scrape images from websites. That was the short and sweet version.
If you’re looking for a deeper dive, though, we’re more than happy to oblige. As you may well know, web scraping is a buzzword at this point. It’s a process used by corporations and individuals alike. In this article, we’ll take a more detailed look at the world of web scraping, define what the use cases are, as well as explore what types of web scraping are there.
A brief introduction to web scraping
As stated in the first line of this article, web scraping basically means collecting data from the internet. In more technical terms, it is a process done by bots to collect as much qualitative, quantitative, and relevant data as possible for a wide range of purposes.
Data drives the modern world, and the more data that a company or individual owns, the more useful the things they can do with it. Quality is always above quantity, which is why the best approach to web scraping is made by automated scripts, bots, or even smart contracts.
Furthermore, since bots do web scraping, they can subjugate the many firewalls and data protection that websites have in place. If you add a high-quality rotating proxy to your data scraping agent, they can breach into places that you, as an individual, probably can’t reach.
In data scraping, it’s all about what kind of data you’re collecting – which means that all the juicier data will be harder to come by. With a sophisticated enough bot that’s well equipped with proxies and good code, you can breach into anything and scrape all kinds of data.
What is web scraping actually used for?
Web scraping is used for an abundance of things, all of which are centered around data collection. The data procured from web scraping has limitless applications, the most prominent of which are:
- Improving the lead generation of your website
- Price comparison between the competition
- Monitoring your competition
- Outbidding your competition
- Building links and improving your position in the SERPS
- Getting a better placement as a service provider of any kind
- Making both internal and external changes based on data-driven decisions
- Doing high-end academic research for scholarly applications
- Odds analysis and heightened decision making
- AI and ML applications and data procurement
The possibilities are virtually endless when you’re working with web scraping. Not only does it give you a cushion of data that you can learn from, but you can also learn from the mistakes of others rather than your own.
What types of web scraping are there?
In essence, there are two types of web scraping – web scraping itself and screen scraping. Web scraping applies to collecting all kinds of data from websites, data centers, and storages that other websites use to collect and store their data.
On the other hand, screen scraping refers to collecting the actual content on websites such as images, texts, widgets, and similar things. Both are done in a relatively similar manner, and both have a somewhat similar use case, that of data procurement.
Web scraping is usually done by web scraping bots that are aimed to collect specific types of data from specific places. The data collected from web scraping is usually pretty “raw” requiring further refinement before it becomes tangible.
In essence, web scraping is useful if you’re looking to collect an abundance of broad data that you plan to use later on after refinement to improve internal operations and decision-making.
Screen scraping, on the other hand, is equally useful, but it’s used by different people/businesses for different things. Screen scraping mostly means scraping images from websites, which you can use to analyze what those images mean to the consumer/visitor and overviewing their metadata, which is also important.
This term also encompasses collecting other things from “the screen” such as widgets, navigation, texts, and many other things.
Web scraping is a crucial process that benefits businesses and individuals worldwide more than you might imagine. It can be employed for many different purposes, starting with improving lead generation and ending with price monitoring. Whatever your goal is, rest assured that web scraping will become a reliable companion to make the best business decisions.