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Web Scraping Without Coding – Yes, That’s Possible!
Web scraping is on the rise these days. We’re not just talking about tech people who have specialized knowledge. People of all backgrounds turn to web scraping as a way to improve various aspects of their work. From SEO specialists, sneakerheads, freelance social media managers to small and big online business owners.
Having access to publicly available data can help you make valuable decisions for work, research, and even just daily life. But what if you’re not exactly a pro at web scraping? Don’t worry, we all have to start somewhere, so why not begin with no-code scraping tools!
Why should you be interested in web scraping?
Data is important whether we work directly with it or not. The internet is a vast ocean of all sorts of knowledge, and we have relatively easy access to it. The problem – there’s simply too much information to sift through manually when looking for something specific.
That’s why we need web scraping. Here’s a list of some most popular use cases of web scraping:
- Email lead generation
- Competitor analysis
- SEO optimization
- Market research
- Brand protection
- Real-time price comparison
- Product listings
…and the list goes on. Web scraping can help with job hunts, investment, studies, and even journalism. We won’t go into detail here, but if you want to get into the thick of web scraping use cases, you can read all about it in our other blog post.
Key terms and definitions: web scraping, web crawling, and parsing
Now, you probably have some idea of what lies ahead. I mean, there’s a reason why you stumbled upon this blog post. But first, we have to cover some basics, even if we’re looking for easy no-code solutions.
To put it bluntly – web scraping (or data extraction) is an automated data gathering process. In essence, it saves you hours of work: instead of going through the internet and collecting data by hand, web scraping does everything for you.
You can simply specify what information you’re looking for, select your targets (websites), and the length of your search (how many pages you want to scrape). It’s an incredibly beneficial tool that lets you gather a substantial amount of data in one place.
It can be mistaken for web scraping, but they’re not the same thing. Web crawling is more of a generic process during which a crawler goes through a target (website), gathering heaps of information. It’s basically sort of how Google, and other search engines, work.
When you fire up your crawler, it will go through selected targets and show you the most relevant results, but you’ll still need to go through them one by one. A scraper, on the other hand, both “crawls” the information, narrows the search scope according to your preferences, and most importantly – downloads the information.
Data parsing is the last step of web scraping. It’s a process of turning raw, unstructured, and scattered data into a different, more coherent, and easier-to-understand format. It’s super important because scraping usually returns data in a raw HTML form, which is hard to read. It’ll look like a wall of text mixed with numbers, letters, and different symbols.
Theoretically, you’ll still have all the results in one place, but web scraping should be about saving time when gathering huge amounts of data. So, getting stuck at deciphering results can be a bummer – not an issue with a handy parser, though.
No-code scraping tools
It’s true, web scraping can be a tech-heavy subject, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be – especially if we’re talking about smaller-scale data gathering. Let’s go over some examples, shall we?
Smartproxy’s No-Code Scraper
There’s a reason why we’re writing this blog post and that is our very own No-Code Scraper! It’s an awesome no-code tool that lets you scrape the web effortlessly. It’s designed to make this process as easy and convenient as possible. This tool has built-in smart selectors that help identify and choose multiple fields to scrape with a single click.
Main features of No-Code Scraper
Easy data acquisition. This includes selecting, gathering, and parsing all in one. All you have to worry about is knowing which targets to scrape.
Full control of the process. This tool also has a manager that lets you control data however you see fit. Schedule web scraping tasks, keep track of them in our dashboard, and export data into the format you prefer.
Export data into JSON or CSV. You can have the results sent straight to your email, or webhook if you choose the JSON format.
How to get our No-Code Scraper
Currently, we offer two versions – the premium No-Code Scraper and the No-Code Scraper extension.
You can get the No-Code Scraper Extension completely free straight from Chrome’s Web Store. Once you have it, simply fire it up by clicking on the extension's icon next to the search bar and you’re good to go.
If you want to level up your scraping game with pre-made scraping templates, task scheduling, and convenient data delivery options, grab the No-Code Scraper. If you wish to test it out, we offer a month free trial. During that month, you'll be able to perform 3,000 requests.
To get the free trial you’ll have to:
- Sign up to our dashboard (free of charge).
- Navigate to the menu on the left side.
- Click on the Start free trial button on the No-Code Scraper pricing page.
- Enter your payment details and confirm your purchase in the dashboard. Worry not; you won’t be charged yet!
- Hooray! You now have a month to use 3,000 requests for scraping any website with No-Code Scraper.
Just bear in mind that if you don’t cancel your free trial before its end, you’ll be charged automatically for the “Lite” plan.
With the No-Code Scraper, you get to:
- Manage and schedule scraping tasks in our dashboard;
- Choose from pre-made scraping templates;
- Download data in JSON (via email or webhook) or CSV (via email) formats.
Scraping with No-Code Scraper
Now that you have our No-Code Scraper, it’s time to start scraping! Here’s what the basic workflow would look like:
Step 1: Grab No-Code Scraper on the dashboard.
Step 2: Navigate to the “Collection management” tab under the No-Code Scraper category.
Step 3: Click the “Create new” button and select the collection you want to create.
Step 4: Pick one of the pre-made scraping templates or download our free No-Code Scraper extension to create your own.
Step 5: Choose delivery frequency and end date for your collection.
Step 6: Select delivery via email or webhook and start receiving your data.
If you need to turn complicated web pages filled with useful but scattered information into simple and eye-pleasing spreadsheets – check out Octoparse. It’s a three-step no-code web scraping experience that has quite a few benefits up its sleeve.
As Octoparse states it, their tool is:
- Can scrape content from all kinds of websites;
- Provides a cloud service;
- Schedules scraping projects;
- Rotates IP to prevent blocks;
- Export data to JSON, CSV, Excel, Octoparse API, or your own database.
This provider also makes sure to offer plans and prices that fit different needs. You can get a completely free plan, which understandably has fever options, but nonetheless lets you try out their tool commitment-free. All you have to do is sign up to their website and you’re good to go!
Another cool web scraping tool that doesn’t require any coding knowledge whatsoever is ParseHub. This tool is very similar to Octoparse. They advertise pretty much the same features but also include an option to download the extracted data in almost standard JSON and CSV/Excel formats, API, and even Google Sheets.
ParseHub also offers a free plan that you can download and start using straight away. You literally only need to navigate to the ‘Free Plan’ option and hit ‘download’ – that’s it. Other plans come with a considerable price range but that heavily depends on your preferences and needs.
Okay, Phantombuster doesn’t just have cute lil’ ghosts flying around their homepage. It is yet another code-free tool that offers web scraping and automation services. This tool has similar, if not the same features, as the above-mentioned tools. What’s a little different – Phantombuster is quite big on automation.
This solution really caters to all kinds of businesses and professionals who don’t necessarily have coding knowledge or experience but understand the value of data. Particularly those working with social media – Phantombuster offers vast automation processes like account following, likes, accepting requests, and more. So if you’re someone who needs both web scraping and automation, definitely check out this software.
Oh, and they also have a free version of their product, though it looks quite limited. However, their prices for other plans are very agreeable, so scroll through and see for yourself, you might just find what you’re looking for.
Whether you’re simply looking for ways to increase data acquisition or you’re a business owner in need of big data all day, every day – web scraping is the way. But it can be quite overwhelming without the proper coding knowledge and tools. Thankfully, there are many great no-code solutions out there.
Our No-Code Scraper is easy to use, requires little-to-no setup, and most importantly – it won’t break the bank. And if you run into any problems along the way, our dedicated customer support team is here for you 24/7. Access big data and start making valuable decisions today!
Ella’s here to help you untangle the anonymous world of residential proxies to make your virtual life make sense. She believes there’s nothing better than taking some time to share knowledge in this crazy fast-paced world.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the difference between scraping and crawling?
Web scraping lets you narrow down your search scope according to your specifications to make sure that the scraper only gathers the information you need. A web crawler is similar in the sense that it also goes through the information, but the search will be rather broad and not as specific.
Another big difference between web scraping and web crawling is that a scraper will be able to download all the gathered data.
What are the pros and cons of building your own scraper and buying it from third parties?
Building your own scraper gives you the freedom to build it precisely how you want it to function. This also means that you’ll have full control over future updates and general upkeep of the tool. On the flip side, though, if you’re not the one who’ll do the building, you’ll need to have a dedicated person, which will result in bigger expenses.
Buying a scraper from third parties can be less expensive, but it also means spending more time on finding out which provider will best suit your needs. All in all, it all depends on your capabilities and what you need.
Are there any other use cases for data parsing except data extraction?
Yep. While it’s often closely tied with data extraction, parsing can be and is used for a variety of things. One of the best use case examples would be resume parsing. A resume’s purpose is very clear, but the content, format, and style are completely different.
Data parsing can help extract the most important bits and store them in a unified database for more convenient use. If you’re interested in the topic, you should check out our other blog post, where we go into detail about data parsing use cases.
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