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The Ultimate Guide to Web Scraping in 2022

26-04-2020

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites. It can be done manually, but it is typically automated using software that can simulate a human user. This is the Ultimate Guide to Web scraping to guide a wide variety of applications, including market research, price comparisons, data mining, and lead generation.

the ultimate guide to web scraping

There are a few reasons why you might want to scrape the web. Maybe you want to collect data for a research project, or you want to monitor prices on a competitor’s website. Or perhaps you’re building a dashboard that needs to display data from multiple sources. Whatever the reason, web scraping can be a valuable tool.

However, there are also some risks to consider before you start scraping. First, web scraping can be a violation of the terms of service for some websites. Second, scraping too much data too quickly can put a strain on the website’s servers and lead to your IP address being banned. Finally, the data you scrape may be inaccurate or out-of-date.

In this post, we’ll learn how to use web Scraping Tools & APIs to perform quick and effective web-scraping for single-page applications. This can help us gather and use valuable data that isn’t always available via APIs. Let’s dive in.

What is web scraping?

Web scraping is a technique used to extract data from websites using certain tools or APIs. We extract data for either business purposes or for Data analysis. Here we are going to focus on tools that can be used by both Developers as well as Non-developers. We perform web scraping because the target website has not exposed its API. Here are some common web Scraping scenarios:

  1. Scraping E-commerce websites for product data.
  2. Scraping Hotel booking websites for collecting reviews, ratings & pricing of the hotel.
  3. Scraping Emails for targetting customers.
  4. Scraping financial websites for data analysis or for preparing a machine learning model.

The Benefits of Web Scraping

Web scraping can be used for a variety of purposes. Here are just a few examples:

  • Collecting data for research: Web scraping can be used to gather data for academic research. For example, a researcher might use web scraping to collect data about online behavior or attitudes.
  • Monitoring prices: Web scraping can be used to track prices on a competitor’s website. This can be especially helpful for businesses that sell products online.
  • Building dashboards: Web scraping can be used to collect data from multiple sources and display it in one place. This can be helpful for decision-makers who need to track data from multiple sources.

There are many potential benefits to web scraping. However, it’s important to consider the risks before you start scraping.

Requirements

Getting started with web scraping is easy and it is divided into two simple parts-

  1. Using a web scraping tool to make an HTTP request for data extraction.
  2. Extract important JSON data by parsing the scraped HTML data.

For the web scraping tool, we are going to use Scrapingdog. They offer 1000 FREE credits & their service can be easily used directly either from their Tool or API. So first, register here and get started with me. Now, after successful registration, you will be redirected to a dashboard that looks like below

steps to scrape

Now, if you are a developer and don’t want to use this tool then just go to their API documentation and start Scraping. First Let me just explain what each 8 input box means here.

  1. You have to paste the URL of the website you are going to scrape.
  2. Paste the key to your account, which is available right above this tool.
  3. Now, you can either render JavaScript or you can leave it as it is. Rendering JavaScript means it will open that website in headerless chrome and extract all the dynamic data available within that target website. If you think the target website is static then leave it as it is.
  4. Then you have a Premium proxy option which enables you to use premium proxies for websites that are harder to scrape.
  5. Then you have a geographical position proxy which helps you to get local data of any country.
  6. The last three options are for specifying HTML attributes & tags using which Scrapingdog provides us JSON data directly from scraped HTML data.

Make the First Request

We are done with all the ingredients we need to scrape a website, let’s start scraping. We are scraping data from the HackerNews website for which we need to make an HTTP request to get the website’s content. That’s where Scrapingdog comes into action. Just paste the link inside the first input box and your API key inside the second box.

scraping the site
Web Scraping tool of Scrapingdog

Then just click Scrape and voila. Your HTML data will be available in the other box. Isn’t that amazing? How fast we can scrape data today. So, in just 2 seconds without any setup, you have managed to scrape a dynamic website. You can also directly copy that data by using the “Copy Data” button.

extracting html
Data extracted from Scrapingdog

We are getting similar HTML content that we get while making a request from Chrome or any browser. Now we need some help from Chrome Developer Tools to search through the HTML of a web page and select the required data. You can learn more about Chrome DevTools from here. We want to scrape the News heading in JSON format. You can view the HTML of the webpage by right-clicking anywhere on the webpage and selecting “Inspect”.

using chrome web developer tool
Chrome dev tools for inspecting HTML

Now here comes another great feature of Scrapingdog.com. We can specify the attributes & tags to get JSON response with all the News heading. Now, here the attribute is “class”, its name is “title” & the tag is “td”. Just mention this information inside the tool. Like below.

generating JSON data

Then again just click Scrape to get JSON data. You will receive something like below.

json format data
JSON received from Scrapingdog

Fantastic! This is what we were looking for. This is the JSON response that contains all the News headings on ycombinator.com. This is the fastest I have been able to scrape any website. You can just copy and share it with anyone or maybe use it in your project. This all can also be done by their API. In this way, we can scrape the data from various large numbers of websites including Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. So, our food is prepared and looks delicious too. Oh! it also offers an extension that can be used remotely if you don’t want to access the dashboard.

Conclusion

In this article, we first understood what is web scraping and how we can use it for automating various operations for collecting data from various websites. Many websites are using Single Page Application (SPA) architecture to generate content dynamically on their websites using JavaScript. So, in our next tutorial, we will learn how we can scrape dynamic websites without getting blocked. I will release the second tutorial in the coming week with much more adventure. So, stay tuned with me.Feel free to comment and ask me anything. You can follow us on Twitter and Medium. Thanks for reading! 👍

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to scrape web pages that require login?

Ans: Web scraping can be a bit more difficult when the data you want to scrape is behind a login. In these cases, you will need to use a tool that can simulate a real browser, such as Selenium. With Selenium, you can programmatically log in to a website and scrape the data that you need. Selenium is a bit more difficult to use than other scraping tools, but it is worth learning if you want to scrape data from websites that require login.

Q: How to scrape data from JavaScript?

Ans: Many websites use JavaScript to load data from an API or to generate the HTML of the web page. This can make it difficult to scrape data from these websites. There are a few tools that can be used to scrape data from websites that use JavaScript. One of these tools is PhantomJS. PhantomJS is a headless browser that can be used to load web pages and to scrape data from them.

Q: How to avoid getting banned while web scraping?

Ans: When web-scraping, it is important to avoid getting banned by the website that you are scraping. There are a few ways to do this. First, you should always use a real browser when web scraping. This will make it more difficult for the website to detect that you are a web scraper. Second, you should Use a proxy server when web scraping.

A proxy server will route your requests through a different IP address, making it more difficult for the website to detect that you are web scraping. Finally, you should rate and limit your requests. This means that you should not make more than a certain number of requests to the website in a given period of time. Rate limiting your requests will make it more difficult for the website to detect that you are web scraping and will also help to avoid overloading the website.

Manthan Koolwal

My name is Manthan Koolwal and I am the CEO of scrapingdog.com. I love creating scraper and seamless data pipelines.
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