How to Scrape a Website | Our Full Up-to-date Guide to Data Extraction!

In today's world, data is critical. Everyone is looking for more innovative ways and technologies for data extraction. Web data extraction can help you in many ways, including allowing you to track competitors' prices and making publicly available data helpful.

Web scraping helps you to extract third-party data automatically. It helps you scrape data from various websites and store it in a structured format. Additionally, with no-code data extraction tools, your business can leverage data to have a competitive edge over other companies.

In this article, we'll teach you how to scrape a website by explaining what it is and the best way to do it.

What Is Web Scraping?

Web scraping, also known as web data extraction, automatically extracts data from a web page. You can use a web scraper, a data scraping tool, to extract all the data you need to make better decisions.

Automated web scraping helps get data from various web pages for various purposes. Such purposes can include:

  • News monitoring
  • Price intelligence
  • Price monitoring
  • Market research
  • Lead generation
  • Automated manual workflows

Web scraping helps individuals and businesses extract relevant data that helps make the right decisions.

For instance, you can find out which product would sell best in a particular area by extracting data from multiple pages related to eCommerce.

The process is similar to copying and pasting data from a website, only that the latter is on a small scale. Automated web scraping uses data extraction software to retrieve billions of data points from web pages. The extracted data offers insights helpful in making the right decisions.

Web scraping involves the following steps:

  • Fetching involves downloading web page content

  • Parsing that involves extracting specific data fields

  • Formatting the data

  • Store data in a spreadsheet or database

How to Use Web Scrapers in the Data Collection

Until recently, people would used programming languages such as Python code for data extraction.

Today, there are no-code scraping tools that make it possible to extract data with much ease.

The only thing you or your web data extraction specialist need to do is create a scraper model. The scraper model is an essential part of a web scraper as it is the map that informs it how it'll find the data inside the HTML of a web page.

A web scraper isn't the same as a web crawler. Web crawlers don't consider a subset of pages. Instead, it looks at every page on a site. On the other hand, a web scraper considers specific data fields.

How to Scrape a Website for Beginners

Beginners can scrape data using Python. The programming language offers various features that make it an effective tool, even for beginners.

data graphic illustration

Why is Python a suitable option for data extraction?

  • It has an easily understandable syntax. Understanding a python code is the same as making an English statement. It's readable, and its indentation helps in differentiating various scopes in the code.
  • It helps perform an enormous task fast. Since web scraping is essential for saving time, it'd make no sense if you spend all the time writing codes. Python saves you time by allowing you to write small codes for larger tasks. It saves you time in code writing and data extraction.
  • Ease of use. Python is less messy than other programming languages. You don't have to use curly braces or semicolons.
  • A massive library collection. It features a massive library collection, including Pandas and Numpy, that offers various services and methods for multiple purposes. It is therefore effective in web scraping and manipulating extracted data further.
  • An active community. Python boasts of one of the most active communities. If you ever have issues while using Python, the community is there to help you out.

Python Libraries for Data Extraction

As mentioned earlier, Python has various libraries for different purposes. Some of the Python libraries include:

  • BeautifulSoup: the BeautifulSoup library is helpful for parsing XML and HTML documents. You can extract data without a challenge using the parse trees that the package helps you create.
  • Selenium: the selenium package is used for automating browser activities
  • Pandas: The Pandas Python library helps in manipulating and analyzing data. It will help you scrape your desired data and store it in the desired format
python code on the screen

How to Use Python to Scrape Data From a Site

If you use Python code for data extraction, you send a request to the URL you mention. The server then responds to the request by sending data. The server also makes it possible to read the XML or HTML page.

The code parses the web page to find the data and then extracts it.

The steps used for web scraping using Python include:

  • Getting the URL of your desired data 
  • Inspect the web page
  • Look for the data you want to extract
  • Create the code
  • Run the Python code to extract your desired data
  • Storing your scraped data in the desired format
a woman typing on the laptop keyboard

How Do You Scrape a Website Without a Code?

You can also scrape data using no-code web scrape tools. To extract data from a site without a code, use the following steps:

  1. Download the No-code Scraper Tool Extension

Download the no-code scraper tool on your device and install it as an extension.

  1. Create a Scraper Model

A scraper tool requires a scraper model that acts as a map to help the tool find and extract desired data from a website.

You can create a scraper model for the tool or use a pre-built one.

To create a scraper model, go to the web page from which you want to extract data.

Next, select an element on the web page that you want to extract and give it a name.

Different no-code scraper tools allow you to extract various data types, including links, text, and images.

  1. Use the Scrape Model to Extract Data From Various web Pages 

After creating a scrape model, you can use it to scrape data from different websites. You can also use a pre-built model to start scraping data if you have a pre-built model.

To develop a deeper scraper, you can combine various scraper models. Depending on your needs, the scraper tool can help you extract data from a single page or multiple pages.

Additionally, combining scraper tools allows you to extract different data types, including lists and individual pages. For instance, a list scraper tool can help you extract the list of best sellers and the URLs of each from an eCommerce website. On the other hand, an individual scraper tool helps you extract data from each page.

  1. Save Your Data to Excel or Web Apps

If you don't save the data you scrape from the various web pages, the scraping process won't be helpful.

You can avoid the issue by saving your extracted data on web apps or Microsoft Excel after extracting it.

Some of the web apps you can use include Airtable, Google Sheets, or Notion.

Is Web Scraping Legal?

Web scraping can be helpful or destructive, depending on how you use it.

For instance, you can use web scraping tools to help you extract data for market research and price comparisons to give you a competitive edge.

On the other hand, data extraction can be negative if used for various harmful activities such as account hijacking, online fraud, stealing of intellectual theft, and data theft.

Web scraping isn't illegal by itself. You can even scrape your website. It is an effective method that you can use to get data from other websites.

However, some website owners are not welcome the idea of other people scraping their data. However, that doesn't warrant "unauthorized access" if the site has not copyrighted the data. Any data that isn't copyrighted and is publicly available isn't illegal to scrape.

How Can You Scrape a Website for Free?

You can scrape a website for free using a free web scraper tool.

There's no shortage of web scraping tools on the internet. You should choose one that fits your web scraping needs.

Before you can settle on a web scraping tool, you should consider various factors, including:

  • Device compatibility: Some tools are compatible with different operating systems such as Linux and Mac. Ensure that the web scraping tool supports your operating system.
  • Ease of use: If you're not good at programming, ensure the scraping tool comes with guides and instructions to help you in the data scraping process.
  • Cloud service: The data integration tool should support cloud service to enable you to access your data across various devices at any time.
  • Cost: You should also consider the pricing of the web scraper tool. The prices vary across various vendors.
web scraping key on the keyboard

How Hard Is it to Scrape a Website?

Scraping a website isn't that difficult today. There are lots of web scraper tools that help you in the process.

The scraper tool only requires you to create a model it'll use in extracting the data. You can also use a pre-built scraper model.

The tools can also help you manipulate, store, and analyze the scraped data.

Conclusion

Data extraction allows you to extract valuable data that you can use for market research and price comparison. The data gives you a competitive edge over other businesses. Ensure you get the most appropriate web scraper tool to help you in the data extraction process.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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