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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
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.
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.
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).
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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