Although the process of web scraping may seem daunting at first, in reality, there are many tools that simplify the process for you and make web scraping easy. By knowing where to get started, you can soon be collecting all the public data you may need. Whether it’s for a side hustle, starting an aggregator business or improving your current business – web scraping is an exceptionally useful tool. So, where do you start?
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at how to get started with web scraping. We’ll discuss some of the tools you can use, including web scrapers and residential proxy networks. Keep reading to find out how easy it can be to start collecting data using a web scraper.
In this article on starting with web scraping, we’ll be covering the following topics:
- What is web scraping?
- Tools needed for web scraping
- Using a residential proxy with your web scraper
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is defined as the automated process of collecting data from many different websites and compiling it in a single format. With web scraping, you can easily start harvesting or extracting the information you need from many different websites and have it compiled into a spreadsheet. Once in this format, users can further analyze and evaluate the information in order to discover gaps in the market, trends or other beneficial insights that can improve business decision making.
What Can You Do With Web Scraping?
Anyone can use and benefit from web scraping. Whether you decide to use the tools to help improve your existing business, start a new one or even if you’re just an individual needing data for personal life decisions – web scraping can be useful in most cases.
Here are just a few different ways that web scraping can be used:
- Monitoring e-commerce pricing
- Identifying investment opportunities
- Improving machine learning
- Identifying social media influencers
- Identifying content collaborators
- Starting an aggregator business
- Monitoring real estate listing for opportunities
- Optimizing SEO and SERP results
- Gaining industry statistics and insights
- Lead generation
- Sentiment analysis
Tools Needed For Web Scraping
Before you can start web scraping, you need a few crucial tools. First off, you’ll need a web scraper, and we also recommend using a residential proxy alongside your chosen scraper. If you have coding skills, you can build your own web scraper using many of the open-source code already available and adapt it for your specific needs. Alternatively, you can also use a pre-built web scraping tool that doesn’t require any coding knowledge. We’ll be looking at a few of those options below.
Octoparse is one of the most well-known web scrapers available. This is an easy, user-friendly program to get started with. Users can get started within three simple steps, and the steps are explained to make the process even easier to follow.
The platform has a free option and tiered plans for when you want more features. The free option includes unlimited pages per crawl and unlimited computers per account. However, you’ll only be able to receive 10 000 records per export. They also offer a 14-day free trial of the full scraper, so you can give it a try before making a final decision.
ParseHub is another popular web scraper. This is another easy-to-use program that allows you to start collecting data in three steps. The layout of the dashboard is easy to understand, use and follow.
ParseHub also offers a free version with a couple of limitations, such as only extracting 200 pages of data every 20 minutes. However, their tiered options do give you more features if you need them. They also offer the option to build a custom plan if your specific needs aren’t met by their current plans.
Smart Scraper is a web scraping tool developed by the popular proxy provider, Smartproxy. This powerful scraper works with a browser extension to make your scraping efforts easier and more convenient. It also features smart selectors, which makes it easy to identify and choose multiple fields with the same value across websites.
The Smart Scraper browser extension is free to download and use. Smart Scraper also has a convenient dashboard which is an additional service at an affordable cost that gives users even more scraping options, such as scheduling tasks or downloading results via email. They do offer a three-day trial period to give users a chance to explore the dashboard and additional features that come along with it.
Using A Residential Proxy With Your Web Scraper
Web scraping tools are automated software, meaning that they can run without needing human intervention. However, we strongly recommend using a residential proxy alongside your web scraping tool. Using a proxy like this will protect your online anonymity by hiding your IP address. You’ll also be able to bypass certain geo-restrictions, meaning that you can collect a wider range of data, making it more accurate. Residential proxies can also help increase your browsing speed, which means that your web scraping speed will also benefit from being linked to a residential proxy.
Finally, since these proxies are linked to real devices (and real IPs), they won’t be flagged as bots and banned from websites – which could result in incomplete and inaccurate data collection.
Getting started with web scraping is not as complex as one thinks. If you’re equipped with a good, easy-to-use web scraper and reliable residential proxy, there’s no reason not to start data mining today. Regardless of your reasons, business or personal, web scraping can help you extract all the data you need for various purposes.