What Is Web Scraping — Basics & Practical Uses

11 min readAug 28

Originally published as https://reurl.cc/QX0ZWp

What is web scraping? How does it work and how is it used? What are the pros and cons of web scraping? Similar questions keep coming up all the time. So this basic intro comes in and will lead you into the world of web scraping, then answer all questions that concern you.

What is Web Scraping

In short, web scraping is a way to download data from web pages.

You may have heard of some of its nicknames like data scraping, data extraction, or web crawling. Among these, web crawling could be narrower and refer to data scraping done by search engine bots. But in most cases, they all refer to the same meaning — a programmatic way to pull data from the web.

In essence, web scraping is a dedicated data collector who captures the exact set of data you want from a load of web pages and makes it into a neat file for your download and further use. It helps fetch data like product information, phone numbers, email addresses, articles, etc., from websites and organize it into certain forms like Excel, CSV, HTML, etc., or databases like Google Sheets.

See how Wikipedia explains web scraping:

“The content of a page may be parsed, searched, reformatted, its data copied into a spreadsheet or loaded into a database. Web scrapers typically take something out of a page, to make use of it for another purpose somewhere else. An example would be to find and copy names and telephone numbers, or companies and their URLs, or e-mail addresses to a list (contact scraping).”

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What is the Point of Web Scraping

Big Data and Automation are no longer new concepts in the current business world. People use them to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

Big data is big for the amount. Automation is about getting things done on autopilot. Web scraping is good at both — getting voluminous data fast with little human labor required.

In the context of big data collection, web scraping is the rescue. If you want to train a machine learning model, a great amount of accurate input data will…


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