If you want to extract information from websites, the fastest and the most efficient way to do it is through web scraping. There are many web scraping api that can automatically get this down for you, using Hypertext Transfer. Nevertheless, before you go looking for one, it is better to understand what web scraping involves.
There are basically three steps in web scraping:
- Sending a GET request
- Parsing the HTML code of the website
- Searching for the parse tree
It might all seem quite easy; but it is not. In reality web scraping is a lot more complex, if you have to do it all by yourself. You will have to do the necessary coding to get the data that you want. For this you will have to be the master of programming. If not, you have to choose a web scraping tool that can do the web data extraction automatically for you.
If you are using a web scraping tool, all that you need to do is copy-paste the URLs of the websites that you want to extract the data from and wait for the tool to complete the task. Once the data is extracted you can save it in a feasible format using a simple point-and-click action. In fact you can even extract comments and posts from Twitter by using such web scraping tools.
Here is why it makes sense to try web scraping:
It is cost-effective
Through web scraping you can extract all the data that you want from websites without spending too much time or money. You will save up on hiring people to collect and analyze the data from websites.
Low Maintenance; High Speed
Scraping the web for information can take a lot of time, if you are doing it manually. Also the maintenance cost might be quite high. In comparison it seems best to use a web scraping tool that can help you complete your job within a few minutes with hardly any maintenance charges.
Manual data extraction from websites is prone to a lot of errors that can lead to major issues. If you want to ensure accuracy of data, web scraping is your best option. This is especially useful for those who wish to collect data related to sales and finance.
You might take a while to extract information from a single web page if you are doing it manually. However, once you implement a web scraping tool, you can collect data from the entire domain within a few minutes. For a one-time investment, that is a lot of data you can collect.
Web scraping no doubt makes it easier, faster, and very cost-effective, to extract data from websites. Nevertheless, considering the volume of the retrieved data, it can become a pain to treat and analyze all that data, unless you are tech-savvy. Also, not all websites allow screen scraping which can become a challenge you will have to deal with. Nevertheless, web scraping is absolutely legal and you can easily find a lot of tools and solutions.