Frequently Asked Questions About Web Scraping

Everyone’s into web scraping these days. And who can blame them – it’s a relatively easy side hustle that you can learn at home. All you need is a computer, some patience, and your own brainpower.

While there are multiple tutorials on various web scraping aspects online, no one likes to talk about what might seem obvious to some. Let’s go through the most frequently asked questions about web scraping.

Scraping FAQ

How is web scraping used in business?

Honestly, there are many when it comes to web scraping. While you can use it for a fun data project, many businesses rely on web scraping more than you’d think.

Here are some examples how web scraping is used in business:

Email lead generation: old-fashioned for some, a best tactic for others! Advertisers still often try to reach a new audience via email marketing, and to seek new audiences, they scrape the web to find new leads. A good web scraper will detect public email addresses and add them to a lead base. Of course, this email lead generation can go two ways: either used for tasteful advertising, or for annoying spam emails. The power is in the hands of the beholder.

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scraping web

Price comparison: there are tons of price comparison websites, ranging from displaying airfare prices all the way to clothing. Perfect examples of price comparison sites are flight fare comparison websites.

Market research: the phrase is used as an umbrella term for different web scraping operations used in many online and physical businesses. Market research includes ad verification, affiliate link testing, and SEO research.

Is web scraping legal?

Contrary to common belief, scraping public and factual information is legal. Of course, you should pay attention to the data you’re scraping and always refer to the site’s robots.txt file, which tells search engine crawlers which pages or files the crawler can or can’t request from a site. Scraping a site against the directions in its robots.txt might be illegal in most countries.

What are the best tools for web scraping?

There are many various tools for web scraping, and most people have trouble picking out the right one. The truth is, what web scraper to pick depends on how advanced your skills and projects you’d be working on are.

The most popular web scrapers include ParseHub which is ideal for beginners, OctoParse, and ScrapeBox. Of course, no one can beat a scraper that you build yourself with Python or any other language, as you can modify it to scrape JavaScript websites and avoid anti-scraping techniques.

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scraping in SEO

How is web scraping used in SEO?

SERP scraping: scrape the results of a particular search to gather more information about your competitors, and see the dos and don’ts of multiple websites in your niche.

Rank tracking: web scraping comes in handy when checking your website’s position on Google and any alternative search engines. Track changes, and watch your website go up in ranks or see drops immediately to aid the situation.

Crawling with Screaming Frog: Screaming Frog is a SEO crawler that performs site audits, checks for broken URLS and links, and helps check the technical and on-site SEO.

What should you know before scraping?

There are a few essential aspects of web scraping that often get overlooked. First of all, proxies are just as important as the scraper. We always recommend scraping with rotating residential proxies. A constant supply of IP addresses that belong to real devices is the golden key that will make your project successful.

However, getting the right proxies don’t always guarantee you the anonymity needed for successful web scraping. You should always keep in mind device and browser fingerprinting before going off scraping.

Just the way your IP address and cookies affect the quality of your web scraping, fingerprinting does too. So before launching your scraping project, try blocking Flash and/or Javascript as well as emulating different devices and virtual visitors.

What are some interesting web scraping projects?

Even though it might not sound like it at first, web scraping is a truly creative field. There are so many different projects that require data gathering, so the possibilities are truly endless.

Why not try scraping some publicly available data and turn it into a visually pleasing experience? If visual and graphic design isn’t quite your thing, how about having a go at creating something useful for your community or your friends? Let’s say your friends are trying to find a new flat to rent out. You could make a scraper that tracks prices of flats in a specific location, and gives alerts when prices drop or a new offer appears. This way, your friends could easily get the best offers first.

And, while you’re at it, register on Smartproxy and try our residential proxy network with a 3-day money-back guarantee to make data scraping easier!