Data Crawling vs Data Scraping

Data Crawling vs Data Scraping
Oct 04, 2021

Data crawling got its name from spiders who crawl around the premises. A virtual "spider" can crawl around the Internet, indexing pages of various websites. You can use such an Internet bot to collect target data sets that are relevant to your business. At first sight, this method might resemble data scraping — but there is a big difference between web crawling vs scraping. After reading this article, you'll get to know the specifics and benefits of the crawling process in comparison to the merits and opportunities of web scraping.

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Scraping vs Web Crawling

A real-time crawler is an automatic indexer that can handle nearly an infinite amount of data. Almost all search engines employ web crawlers (think of Google Yahoo as an example). The crawl agent of the major search engines might index over 25 billion pages per day to provide users with up-to-date and accurate data. Large online aggregators and statistical agencies might use web crawlers too.

During the process of indexing pages, a crawler would gather all the data from the page: a text post, every reference link below the text, contact links in the footer, etc. It won't skip a single word on the website and it will make sure there will be no deduplication.

Web crawling normally captures generic information, while web scraping is focused on key data snippets — and this is the main point.

Data scraping is synonymous with data extraction. This method can also be used to identify and locate target data from web pages. But in the case of web scraping, we know exactly which web data we need to extract. For instance, it might be an HTML element structure for a specific page. You can use scraping extracts for comparison, verification and analysis based on a given business' needs.

Web scraping as the following goals

A company might need web scraping to attain the following goals:

  • Research. Web data can serve as the basis for any type of research: marketing, financial, academic and so on. Thanks to scraping web, you might be able to gather user data in real-time and outline behavioral patterns. That should help you to identify a specific target audience for your goods or services and attract more customers.
  • Retail / eCommerce. To retain the competitive edge and scale successfully, companies should know the differences between themselves and their rivals. They should regularly employ web scraping for market analyses. These are just a few types of data that a bot can extract: real estate listings, product descriptions and other product details, price intelligence (price scraping might involve current stock prices, commodity prices and so on).
  • Brand protection. Data collection is one of the indispensable tools for preventing brand fraud and brand dilution. It enables brands to identify cybercriminals and take action against them.

Companies that get used to scraping data systematically, eventually get more business leads, win a greater market share and boost their income.

Data scraping is a legal data extraction because every page that you'll get information from is publicly available. To maximize the efficiency of the scraping process, brands can rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

The Primary Benefits of Web Scraping and Crawling

The Primary Benefits of Web Scraping and Crawling

While discussing the difference between web crawling vs web scraping, we should emphasize their respectful advantages.

Web scraping is highly accurate. Unlike humans, bots never make mistakes because they're tired or fail to focus. Plus, this method is remarkably cost-efficient. You won't need to hire staff members, train them and pay salaries to them. The solution that you'll be using will be completely automated and will require zero infrastructure on your end. Also, you can filter for exactly the data points that you're looking for. For instance, if you want only descriptions but not pricing from a certain website, you'll get precisely what you need.

Screen scraping should help you save time, bandwidth and money in the long run.

As for data crawling, it enables you to carry out an in-depth indexation of every target page. Crawlers can collect knowledge from every nook and cranny of the world wide web. Thanks to data crawling, you can get real-time snapshots of target data sets and easily adapt them to current events. Moreover, web crawling comes in handy for content quality assessment. You can use a web crawler when performing quality assurance tasks for example.

Most likely, now you shouldn't confuse these two terms and characterize any processes related to extracting information from web pages as "scraping web crawling". Data scraping bots will help you to obtain useful knowledge from any website. As for crawlers, you might not necessarily need them — but you'll benefit from data crawling when you'll be googling some queries.

The Key Disadvantages of Web Crawling and Scraping

Despite all the differences, web scraping and web crawling have certain shortcomings. First, they are labor-intensive. You should be ready to invest a lot of time and effort both in web crawling and web scraping. Typically, a company would try crawling and scraping tools to get business insights for one particular project. But then, they would realize the potential of these technologies and begin to rely on scraping and crawling services regularly.

Second, you might fail to collect target data because some websites might have data blockades. This means data from websites becomes hardly accessible to crawlers. If you use scrapers, you might be able to bypass this limitation. A scraper can grant you access to large proxy networks that can enable you to collect web data using multiple IPs. However, some blocks might be insurmountable both to a web scraper and a web crawler.

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Final Thoughts About Data Scraping

Hopefully, this article came in handy and now you better understand the differences between web scraping vs web crawling. These modern data operations can help your business to stay relevant in a highly competitive market if you know how to use them. The latter is in charge of search engine indexing, so you would rarely need instruments for crawling web in your daily workflow. The former can help you to find the necessary web data on the Internet — such an approach is also known as extracting data. Feel free to contact us when you need high-quality data scraping at an affordable price! We will provide you with a powerful scraping tool that can get any data from any type of website. We have extensive expertise in web scraping and we'll be glad to answer all your questions.

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