Most Frequently Asked Questions Answered.
August 02, 2021
For discovery and greater understanding, questions are a must. Therefore, we have collected the most frequently asked questions by the public about different web scraping topics.
What does web scraping mean?
Web scraping or web data extraction is the process of retrieving web data. It is meant that with the help of web scraping tools and/or software’s one can easily gather bulks of the necessary information from the data available on the internet. A great deal of web data extraction is that it replaces the very time-consuming and tiring work of copy-pasting whatever information from the websites. And since data nowadays frequently is basically related to the word “power”, web scraping has become widely popular and increasingly getting developed to become solely automatized.
How does web scraping work?
Nowadays, there are various tools and software that are widely accessible to anyone for gathering web content. Even if each differs in one way or another, the main principle stays the same. For web data extraction two main aspects have to be decided upon - the URL form which to gather the information, and the type of data that is necessary to collect. It is because web scraping takes the URL and renders the whole website for the information necessary. To simply put it, each and every website is built upon code, a united language. The web scraping programs and software are built to read and recognize parts of that code and, with certain features, designate the specific parts to be retrieved.
Is web scraping legal?
Yes and no. Mainly it is based on what kind of information is scraped and what is published. To make sure that the scraping process is legal one must check the Terms and Conditions of the website. Also, in cases when scraping personal information, the collection of sensitive data is a question of legality. Sensitive data refers to any person’s ethnic, racial, sexual orientation, health, biometric data, etc. For this specific subject, we will present a full separate article explaining more precisely. However, for the long run, when scraping data that will be published in one way or another, make sure that it is according to the website’s T&C, and that you do not obtain any sensitive data.
Which websites allow web scraping?
The allowance of the process is a question of the specific website you are looking to scrape. Most websites are scrapable; however, to make sure if it is allowed - you have to look for the Terms and Conditions of the specific website. With a simple CTRL + F and keywords, it is possible to quickly see if there are any restrictions or not. This is a large step to make sure that the web scraping is legal and that data gathering goes smoothly without any unfortunate consequences.
Can web scraping be detected?
Yes, web scraping can be detectable by the owners of the websites in one sense or another, although, not always this is the case. The detection can be minimized by applying various techniques when extracting data, but the most frequent ways that it can be detected are quite simple - for example, once a web page is opened, from whoever, the website detects various types of data, such as IP addresses, page request rate, number of requests in any given time span, location, etc. Therefore, once a web scraper is run, for example, using a 0.5-second page request interval, the website detects that most likely, it is not human that is traversing the web page, as this is not in line with behavior you expect from a real visitor, consuming the content of the page.
Why is web scraping used?
For many reasons. The primary reason is to avoid manually copy-paste information. But if we look at different industries - each has its own need for using web scraping. For example, in marketing, the most popular use of web scraping is collecting leads. For e-commerce, it is scraping other e-commerce sites. Researchers gather the data necessary for their analysis. And for almost any business - data for price and customer analysis is gathered. Since the volume of data available on the internet is expanding by 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day at our current pace, the need to gather data evolves; therefore, the usage of web scraping varies.
How is web scraping applied in data science?
A few of the top trends in data science are machine learning, IoT, edge computing, artificial intelligence, and others. It might come as a surprise for some, but web scraping can be applied to the aforementioned trends in various ways. For example, for real-time analysis providing insights without any delay, predictive analysis for working out patterns in data and predicting future outcomes or trends, natural language processing for gathering data that allows machines to learn natural languages, and many more.
Can I make money using web scraping?
To make money with web scraping, think of the question “Who needs data?”. The answer is - almost everyone. Therefore, seeking the best options and creating your own vision of entrepreneurship with web scraping is a very possible case. Creativity is the limit. Nowadays, one of the most popular ways of leveraging web scraping for monetary gain is by aggregating large amounts of useful data. Whether this is business, real estate, product, or any other type of data.
A common application of this would be to create your own Shopify store. We have covered this topic in one of our previous blogs, which you can find here.
Great! Hope that these answers showcased a few insights into the importance and usage of web scraping. If there are more specifics that you want us to cover - do not hesitate to contact us!
Happy web scraping!