Have you ever wondered what type of data can be scraped off the internet?
Most of us have become so accustomed to Google knowing exactly what we want that we don’t even question if it’s possible to get data that’s not already on the internet.
Well, wonder no more! In this article, we will discuss various aspects of web scraping, including the most frequently asked questions about the process.
We’ll also give some tips on how to get started and the different methods you can use to scrape information.
What Type of Data Can Be Scraped?
You might be familiar with the term “web scraping” because it’s often used when referring to the practice of retrieving data from the web.
In general, web scraping involves using software to mine the data off of other websites. Usually, this is accomplished using website APIs or HTML parsers.
Here are some examples of data that can be extracted using web scraping:
- Product reviews
- Product comparisons
- Sales figures
- Directory listings
- Email newsletters
- Twitter mentions
- Craigslist postings
- Product/service directories
- YouTube videos
- Online auctions
- IMDB movie ratings
- …the list goes on
- All of this data can be extremely useful when running a business or trying to make intelligent decisions about purchasing products online
As you can see, web scraping is a very vast topic.
Essentially, it’s all about extracting information off of the web using software. The types of data that can be retrieved using web scraping are almost limitless, which makes the practice quite useful and frequently used.
There are, however, some legal restrictions when it comes to web scraping. For example, if you’re trying to scrape data off of a US website, you’ll need to get special permission from the website owner.
The most basic rule is to assume that everything you retrieve from the internet is copyrighted material, and you have to ask the owner’s permission before you use it or show it to anyone else.
This is particularly relevant if the data you’re scraping contains financial information or other sensitive data.
Is There Any Regulation or Guidance Regarding Web Scraping?
If you’re worried about whether or not your activities are legal, you might be wondering how far you can go with web scraping. After all, you’re essentially just copying and pasting bits of data from one place to another, right?
In short, yes. Although web scraping as a practice is widespread, it is not without its regulations.
As we mentioned before, if you’re trying to scrape data off of a US website, you’ll need to get special permission from the website owner.
In some cases, you might also need to get a license to continue using the data you’ve scraped (which can be quite the expensive proposition).
On the whole, US websites tend to be more “open” regarding their data, and you’ll generally find less restrictions when it comes to web scraping than websites based in other countries.
That being said, it’s still not legal for everyone to scrape data off of all US websites without permission, particularly financial websites.
In some countries, it is actually illegal to scrape financial information unless you’re a licensed data broker or have the owner’s explicit permission.
So, be careful about whether or not you choose to scrape financial data, or any other kind of data for that matter, unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s allowed.
What Is the Difference between Web Scraping and Data Mining?
If you’re not familiar with the term “data mining”, it’s about time you should be.
Essentially, web scraping is the process of extracting information off of the web using software, while data mining involves using specific algorithms to analyze large sets of data and find patterns and useful information that might be hidden inside the datasets.
As the name suggests, web scraping is often used to gather large amounts of data in a short amount of time. Since most people are nowadays aware of the dangers of clicking on links they find online, they resort to scraping to fill in the gaps in their knowledge.
Some of the tools that are commonly used for web scraping include:
- Software such as Ahrefs’ Nightwatch, Screaming Frog, or Xmartech’s One-Page Checker
- Automated tools that can crawl pages for you and extract the data you’re looking for, such as Genshin Impact, Google Sheets, or Excel
- Spidermonkey, a web browser add-on that was developed by Google and is available for the Firefox and Chrome browsers
- …the list goes on
As you can see, web scraping is a very useful tool for retrieving data from the web. While it might not always be necessary to resort to scraping to get the information you need, it can often be the only feasible option.
At the very least, it’s the best option available if you have the time to find the information yourself.
In the next section, we’ll discuss the different methods you can use to scrape data from the web.
Which Method Is Best For Scrapping Data?
Depending on your needs, you can choose from a variety of methods to scrape data off of the internet.
Generally, there are three different methods that can be used to perform web scrapes: manual methods, software-based methods, and automated methods.
If you’re looking for a way to manually scrape data off of the internet, you have a few options. One of the most popular methods is simply to use a regular browser and search for the data that you’re looking for.
For example, if you wanted to find all the movie times and prices at the nearest movie theater, you can use the Google search bar on the browser’s home page and enter the following search query:
“movie theater” (film) “times”: This will give you a list of all the movie theaters in your area, with times and prices listed next to each one.
You can do the same with any other type of search term you might want to use, such as “restaurant near me” or “coupon” and so on.
This method is quite easy to do, but it’s very tedious to do it manually. For large-scale projects, manual methods can be extremely time-consuming, particularly if a lot of attention needs to be paid to detail.
Still, if you’re looking to quickly gather a large amount of data, this is usually the best option available.
You can also use services like Google Docs or Google Sheets to create a database of all the data you retrieve and organize it into useful formats, such as a weekly or monthly report.
If you want to quickly and easily gather large amounts of data, you can use a tool like Xmatrix’s Search Extractor to quickly find the web pages that contain the information you’re looking for.
Xmatrix developed this tool to make it simpler for users to perform web scrapes. Basically, Search Extractor crawls through the web, looking for the pages that contain the data you want.
After you’ve installed the tool on your computer, all you have to do is enter the URL of the website you want to scrape and choose the search terms you’ll use to find the information.
Then, click the “Start Extracting” button and the tool will begin crawling through the internet automatically, looking for the websites that contain the data you want.
One benefit of this method is that the tool will automatically take care of gathering the data you want and putting it in a usable format. For example, if you enter the URL of the NYtimes website into the search bar and enter the terms “iPhone” in the “Use
This Keyword” field, you’ll see a list of all the news articles that mention or have an article on the iPhone. All you have to do is click on any of the articles and the tool will open up in a new browser window showing you the details of the article, including the headline, URL, and so on.