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Web Crawling vs. Web Scraping: How Are They Different?

Scraping, Mar-04-20215 mins read

Do you need to find large amounts of data online for research or marketing purposes, but you’re unsure how to go about this in a timely way? You don’t need to spend hours copying and pasting data or hiring additional contractors. Instead, you may want to consider web scraping services. People often get web scraping

Do you need to find large amounts of data online for research or marketing purposes, but you’re unsure how to go about this in a timely way? You don’t need to spend hours copying and pasting data or hiring additional contractors. Instead, you may want to consider web scraping services.

People often get web scraping and web crawling confused; however, both play essential functions. You wouldn’t be able to automate the web scraping process without the existence of web crawling. 

Keep reading to learn all about web crawling vs. web scraping, as well as how web scraping can benefit your business today! 

What is Web Crawling?

Web crawling is often what search engines such as Google or Bing do. To determine what kind of information and the quality of information that a website contains, these search engines need to crawl and index web pages. The name “web crawling” comes from the way spiders creep across webs. 

Web crawlers act similarly. As every web page of a website is analyzed, links on each of the pages are analyzed as well. The crawlers continue combing through links, web pages, and text. They index these pages along the way to gain a better understanding of the information on each page.

Since there are billions of websites on the Internet, this process goes on indefinitely. However, there are rules in place for how often websites are crawled, what websites to prioritize, and more. 

Today’s search engine algorithms and the crawlers that support them are becoming even more sophisticated. This is so that when searching online, you’ll be given relevant web pages that aren’t filled with irrelevant ads, keywords, or keyword stuffing

What is Web Scraping?

One way to extract data you find on a website is to read a web page and then copy and paste the relevant text. You can also save images or take screenshots. Although these methods are not fast, you’ll find that you won’t make a lot of progress if you want to extract data from hundreds of websites at a time. This is where web scraping comes into play. 

Web scraping is the process of automating the extraction of data from websites. You’ll be able to collect the publicly available data that you need for your projects in an organized, easy to read way. The process of web scraping requires a crawler, to scour the web and find the information you’re looking for. 

Once the information is found, web scraping tools are needed to extract the data. Web scraper tools vary depending on the data you need as well as the output format necessary. However, most of them take the HTML code, CSS, or even Javascript of a web page and reformat the data as an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file. 

Advantages of Web Scraping Services

If web scraping has piqued your interest, there are several ways you can take advantage of these services to make them worth your investment. Here are a few of the main benefits you can enjoy: 

Competitor Research

One of the main benefits of web scraping is that you’ll be able to pull data from your competitors. You’ll be able to create an accurate and whole picture of the market by analyzing hundreds of websites at a time.

For instance, you can choose to compare your competitors’ pricing compared to yours in a particular area. You can also analyze consumer trends and the marketing activities of your competitors to make better business decisions. 

News Monitoring

Web scraping also gives you the ability to monitor the news continually. For instance, you can scrape certain websites every day to look for mentions of your brand name or website URL. You can also use news monitoring in order to monitor trends in the stock market that certain publications report. 

Email Marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to gain new clients and build relationships with current ones. However, you won’t be able to start an effective email marketing campaign without hundreds of email addresses.

Web scraping allows you to collect email addresses from websites easily. You can then send out a promotional email that invites them to take a look at your website, services, or just a blog post. 

However, remember to include an easy-to-find unsubscribe button in your emails in order to stay legal and ethical. 

Web Scraping With proxies

Now that you know the main differences between web scraping and web crawling, what are proxies, and why are they necessary? It’s important to recall that each of your devices that are connected to the Internet has a unique IP address. This means that no matter what you’re doing, you’re never entirely anonymous on the Internet–your IP address leaves a footprint. 

Third-party proxies are recommended to use for web scraping because you’re able to remain anonymous while extracting data from websites. Using a proxy ensures you are less likely that you’ll be banned from the websites you’re extracting information from. 

You can also use a proxy to set a location completely different from where you live or work. This means that for certain location-specific websites, you’ll be able to see the information they show to clients within their area. 

Let’s take a look at which proxy types you can use for your webscraping projects.

Residential Proxies

One of the main benefits of residential proxies compared to datacenter proxies is that they’re hard for websites to ban. The reason for this is because a residential proies frequently rotate your IP address so that you’ll never be stuck with the same address for an extended amount of time. This gives you an extra layer of anonymity and security. They also a broader range of locations to connect to throughout the world. 

If you need to get around certain geolocation blocks, a residential proxy will serve you well. 

Datacenter Proxies

Datacenter proxies are the most frequent proxy services you can find. Just like residential proxies, they give you a layer of anonymity while browsing the Internet or scraping for data. Datacenter proxies tend to be slightly more affordable compared to residential proxies because of their prevalence. 

However, frequent use of datacenter proxies can also be an inhibitor. Many websites are becoming savvy about their use, and it’s easy for websites to block or ban them. Although datacenter proxies can be as fast or even faster than residential proxies, speed often isn’t in your favor. 

This is because websites can detect unnatural speeds and block the IP address soon after. Last but not least, you won’t have as many locations to choose from compared to residential proxies. This can be a huge detriment if you’re looking for a way to view information that websites only show to people within their local areas. 

Web Crawling vs. Web Scraping: Data at Your Fingertips

Now that you know the difference between web crawling vs. web scraping, you can see how web scraping services can speed up your workflow and help you make better decisions. You can use web scraping services to build an accurate profile of your market, look up competitor pricing information, or for your research purposes. Web scraping is also one of the best ways to start email campaigns to efficiently collect hundreds of email addresses at a time from relevant websites. 

However, it’s essential to keep in mind that you need reliable proxy services to make your web scraping efforts worthwhile. Some websites will be able to detect your activity and block your IP address. You can circumvent this by remaining anonymous through proxies that are located throughout the world. 

Ready to extract data from hundreds of websites while remaining safely anonymous? Please take a look at our residential proxy services today!