Table of contents

February 20, 2023
8 minutes read

How to Scrape Google Search Data

It’s hard to imagine a successful business that doesn’t gather or use any form of data in 2023. And, when it comes to data sources, Google search engine result pages are a goldmine.

But gathering Google search results isn’t that simple – you’ll encounter technical challenges and hurdles along the way. Luckily, some powerful tools and methods can automate search result extraction.

Fret not – we’ll review different methods to scrape Google search results, discuss why it’s worth doing and show you how to solve any possible issues you might encounter while scraping Google SERP data. Shall we begin?

How to Scrape Google Search Data
  • Smartproxy >
  • Blog >
  • Data Collection >
  • How to Scrape Google Search Data

What are Google SERPs?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Google web scraping, let’s find out what Google SERPs are.

SERP is an abbreviation for Search Engine Result Page. It’s the page you get when you type in “egg boiling time” or anything else into the search box of the engine.

The interface of a Google SERP has changed a lot throughout the years – what used to be just a simple list of search results is now way more complex. Today, Google has a number of different SERP features (also known as Rich Snippets), such as Knowledge Graphs, People Also Ask boxes, reviews, News boxes, and others. So, when it comes to choosing a solution for scraping Google, you should go with the one that can also scrape rich snippets.

Why businesses gather data from Google: everyday use cases

Google currently holds 84% of the global market share of search engines, as measured by Statista. The second-largest search engine Bing has a little over 8% market share. Google is also (by far) the most visited website in the world.

These statistics tell us that no matter the industry you operate in as a business, your customers and competitors are likely to be on Google. So, it’s like a treasure chest, holding a massive potential for your business growth. Below are some common scenarios, along with their business personas.

How to scrape Google search results

When discussing Google search data scraping, a question often arises – does Google offer an official solution for its data acquisition? And the answer is… (drum roll) – no. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t provide an official API for scraping, making it challenging to acquire its data at scale.

Of course, there’s always an option to gather data manually, but this method has two issues. When collecting data manually, you should arm yourself with patience as it’ll take hours of your time, and in the end, you might not get accurate results.

Hence, you’ve got roughly three ways to acquire Google search data: semi-automated, automated (done yourself), and automated using time-saving tools (cough*Smartproxy*cough).

Option 1: Semi-automated data gathering

Building a scraper requires some coding knowledge and other technical steps (as we’ll see further below). However, depending on the type and amount of data you need, you might be able to use a semi-automated method instead.

A quick and easy solution is to build a (very) basic scraper in Google Sheets. For this option, you don’t need to write any code. Only a Google Sheet and a few special formulas are ought. This solution is helpful when you wanna collect basic information from a list of web pages.

Say you need some basic Google search results (like meta title, meta description, or author’s name) from pages that compete with your own page on Google for a certain keyword.

You can use a custom version of Google Sheets’ IMPORTXML function with an additional argument (called “xpath-query”) to automatically import the data directly from the web page’s HTML into your spreadsheet. This formula searches through the page’s HTML to retrieve the element that you wanna it to look for, such as <meta name=” description” content=”...”> for page’s meta description.

Technical difficulties of this method:

  • Having to do some work manually. For basic queries and small-scale Google SERP data gathering, this method can be pretty useful. However, you’ll still need to do the setup manually.
  • Limited amount of data. This method is great if you wanna extract some basic information; however, if you need large volumes of data, we’d suggest going with the methods described below. 

Option 2: Automated data gathering by building your own scraper

The next option opens a lot of possibilities as it allows you to scrape Google SERP data in an automated way.

A web scraper is a robot you can program to automatically retrieve vast amounts of data. This robot crawls a URL (or set of URLs) by visiting them, going through all the data on a page, and extracting the data to store it in a database.

The scraper can continue crawling through new pages by following hyperlinks, thus enabling you to gather data from thousands of web pages at once. Following this method, you wouldn’t need to manually feed your robot every page you wanna crawl.

If you wanna scrape Google search results for a specific query, you can create a Google result scraper that you only have to feed the Google Search query of choice, and the scraper will do the rest for you.

But you should know one important thing – websites don’t like scrapers visits. When the anti-bot system detects that your IP address is tied to the scraper, you might be awarded an IP ban. That’s where proxies come in handy. They rotate your IP address and trick the websites into thinking that the robot is a genuine visitor. And it happens that we have a list of scraping-designed proxies with a massive pool of 50M+ residential, mobile, and datacenter IPs. Give our twice as fast as the SEO proxy industry average proxies a try with a 3-day money-back option!

Building a custom, in-house scraper definitely has its perks: for starters, you can build it however you like! You’re fully in control of the development process, so you can ensure the scraper has features you truly need.

But, there are a few drawbacks here:

  • User-Agent testing. Google tries to distinguish humans from robots by checking the User-Agent of the site visitor. To solve this problem, create a list of User-Agent strings used by real browsers and add this to a Python list.
  • Request rate limitation. Google limits the number of requests a user can place within a certain timeframe. To avoid this, set specific time frames between requests and rotating proxies to change your IP.
  • Robotic behavior. Google analyzes user behavior to predict whether the site visitor is a robot or a human. The solution would be to make the bot as human-like as possible.
  • Blocklisted IP address. ​​Once Google notices robotic behavior, it will blocklist it. To avoid this, rotate proxies and use high-quality IP addresses. The best types are unshared, residential IP addresses like the ones we offer – with an amazing 99.99% uptime and high success rate for Google scraping targets.
  • CAPTCHA test. If Google suspects it’s dealing with a robot, it may request proof of humanity – you’ll have to solve a CAPTCHA test. Marking those bikes or putting a puzzle together could be difficult for robots, so you should try avoiding them by combining the above-mentioned methods. 

Option 3: Automated data gathering using Smartproxy SERP Scraping API

The third option is to choose SERP Scraping API to do the work for you. Although thousands of different tools for scraping Google are available, each created to fit a specific purpose, Smartproxy wins for the range of handy features that this API is equipped with. Yes, we might be a little bit biased on this one, but our users love it too!

The most common web scraping tools are SEO tools designed for tracking the performance of pages in Google’s SERPs. They collect all sorts of page data, from average rankings to the number of words on a page or the number of backlinks a website receives from others.

Aside from these SEO-related scrapers, there are tools to gather all sorts of Google search results. You can find scrapers to gather data from Google Shopping results, Google Images, and Google Hotels.

Many SEO specialists choose SERP APIs for thorough keyword research. For instance, our Google Search API is a tool designed to extract data from different search types, so you are all set on reaching that sweet #1 spot on the SERP without breaking a sweat.

Technical difficulties:

  • Requires initial investment.
  • Need proxies to achieve the highest success rate.
  • Might require technical knowledge to get the scraper up and running.

Scraping Methods Summarized

Now that you know more about how you can gather Google search data, it’s time to decide which solution best fits your needs. Going through the pros and cons listed above, you probably already have a favorite option in mind, but let’s quickly recap your possibilities:

Scraping Methods Summarized

Wrapping Up

In the end, the best solution for acquiring data from Google depends on your business needs, personal knowledge, and budget. Building your scraper can be a fantastic, flexible, and cost-effective solution if you're comfortable coding and have spare time on your hands.

However, you will be better off using SERP Scraping API in most cases. It saves you a lot of programming time and effort, and unless you’re a true coding expert, it’ll help you gather a lot more data than doing it yourself. SERP Scraping API provides accurate, real-time data from all Google features and products.

That said, choosing such a tool is the easiest way to scrape Google SERPs on a large scale. So go ahead and try out our SERP Scraping API with a three-day money-back guarantee!

This article was originally published by Sydney Vallée on the SERPMaster blog.


James Keenan

Senior content writer

The automation and anonymity evangelist at Smartproxy. He believes in data freedom and everyone’s right to become a self-starter. James is here to share knowledge and help you succeed with residential proxies.

Related Articles

What Is SERP Analysis And How To Do It?

What Is SERP Analysis And How To Do It?

Every day, millions of people turn to search engines to find solutions to their problems and answer their questions. From “How to bake cooki...

Read more
How to Scrape Google Without Getting Blocked

How to Scrape Google Without Getting Blocked

Nowadays, web scraping is essential for any business interested in gaining a competitive edge. It allows quick and efficient data extraction...

Read more