By: Amber Jones
So what is Web scraping used for?
1: Property listings, which are listed on a central server, which sales Sites or agents might need to enhance their Online portfolios.
2: Retailers who need to publish current information on wholesaler’s products.
3: Stock exchange price listings, which must be updated regularly.
4: Weather predictions, which need to be updated daily, or hourly.
5: Search engines, which need to list updated information on Sites.
6: Curated lists of events, listed for public information, which might be drawn from a host of other Websites.
The process is usually performed by a bot or a web crawler, which are programmed by software developers for a particular purpose. Website owners are often after informative data sets to add value to the product they’re offering to their users.
To cater to this need, developers build tools, which non-programmers can use to acquire information from Sites which allow this nature of data collection.
Here’s a list of some of the popular tools for Web scraping:
This Online, Cloud based tool allows you to collect information from compliant Sites even if you have very little technical knowhow. The application offers 2 broad services, one aimed at developers & the other at businesses, who do not employ permanent developers. The tool presents a host of ‘actor’ builds, which you can use for specific purposes, the most popular of which are:
- Google Places Scraper – extracts specific data from the Google Maps API, such as reviews, photos & operating hours.
- Twitter Hashtag Scraper – extracts data for any particular tag.
- Google Search Scraper – extracts search results for a specific Website, so that index position is revealed.
- Amazon.com Scraper – extract products for a given keyword.
Grepsr is an extension for Google’s Chrome browser & acts as a point-click-collect tool. The application allows you to scrape pages on the go, no programming knowledge required. All you need to do to engage this tool is to add it to your browser, then point & click on the element on a webpage which you need to save to a spreadsheet. The tool is aimed at both non-automated & automated data collection.
This tool allows you to scrape pages using various methods such as point & click in-browser collection, API end points & Automatic IP Rotation. The idea is that you tell the scraper which element-types you’re after on a page, by showing it, which CSS selectors you’re interested in – the tool then builds a scraper to extract the same data, based on these selectors, for every other page. In this manner you’d be able to extract, for instance, all the prices for various products on a website, extract all links or images. Additionally, the result set you’ve collected can be transferred to your own server using built-in tools.
So now you know what Web scraping is used for. For any nature of data you need to collect, these tools will have an easy, cost-effective solution, which you can employ without too much technical expertise.