Why is scraping web data so important?
Web data can be the key to increasing your sales and/or productivity. The modern-day Internet is an extremely noisy place – users create a mind-blowing 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Whether you’re just about to launch your dream project or you’ve owned your business for decades, the information found in data is what helps you draw potential customers away from your competitors and keep them coming back. Web scraping, or extracting useful data from the Internet and converting it into a useful format (like a spreadsheet), is a key component to keeping your business or product from falling behind.
Lead generation through web scraping is something more and more companies are taking advantage of. Web data can tell you almost everything you need to know about potential consumers, from the average prices they’re paying to the must-have features of the moment. But the sheer amount of data out there on potential customers means that you could spend the rest of your life manually extracting data and you would never catch up. That’s where automated scraping tools come in. The process of finding them can be extremely intimidating, however. Using the best web scraping tools for the job is essential for obtaining quality data, so you want to make sure you get the best tools for the job.
What factors should you consider when selecting web scraping tools?
Because different users have very different needs, It is difficult to say exactly what factors should be considered when choosing a website scraping tool. Some users want to build web scrapers without learning code, while others are developers who want to build web crawlers to scrape their own massive sites. Serious data enthusiasts want tools to do both and everything in between. There are free web scraping tools for less intensive needs, and premium ones with enterprise-level features. That said, in the following list we’ve outlined our favorite web scraping tools, along with who might benefit most from using them and why that’s the case.
Whether you’re a data scraping newbie, or a seasoned developer, here is our list of the 10+ best web scraping tools available today. From open source projects to hosted SaaS solutions to desktop web scraping software, there is certain to be a web scraping tool in this lit that will work for your project.
Who this is for: ScraperAPI is a tool for developers building web scrapers, it handles proxies, browsers, and CAPTCHAs so developers can get the raw HTML from any website with a simple API call.
Why you should use it: ScraperAPI doesn’t burden you with managing your own proxies. Instead, it manages its own internal pool of hundreds of thousands of proxies from a dozen different proxy providers, and has smart routing logic that routes requests through different subnets. It also automatically throttles requests in order to avoid IP bans and CAPTCHAs – providing greater reliability. It’s the ultimate web scraping service for developers, with special pools of proxies for ecommerce price scraping, search engine scraping, social media scraping, sneaker scraping, ticket scraping and more! If you want to build the best web scraper, start with the best web scraping API. If you need to scrape data from millions of pages a month, you can use this form to ask for a volume discount.
Who this is for: ScrapeSimple is the perfect service for people who want a custom web scraper tool built for them. It’s as simple as filling out a form with instructions for what kind of data you want.
Why you should use it: ScrapeSimple lives up to its name and takes its place near the top of our list of easy web scraping tools with a fully managed service that builds and maintains custom web scrapers for customers. Just tell them what information you need from which sites, and they will design a custom web scraper to deliver the information to you periodically (you can choose between daily, weekly, monthly) in CSV format directly to your inbox. This service is perfect for businesses that just want a html scraper without needing to write any code themselves. Response times are quick and the service is incredibly friendly and helpful, making this service perfect for people who just want the full data extraction process taken care of for them.
Who this is for: Octoparse is a fantastic scraper tool for people who want to extract data from websites without having to code, while still having control over the full process with their easy-to-use user interface.
Who this is for: ParseHub is an incredibly powerful tool for building web scrapers without coding. It is used by analysts, journalists, data scientists, and everyone in between.
Why you should use it: ParseHub is exceedingly simple to use- you can build web scrapers simply by clicking on the data that you want. Parsehub then exports the data in JSON or Excel format. It has many handy features such as automatic IP rotation, allowing web page scraping behind login walls, going through dropdowns and tabs, getting data from tables and maps, and much much more. In addition, it has a generous free tier, allowing users to scrape up to 200 pages of data in just 40 minutes! ParseHub is also nice in that it provides desktop clients for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, so you can use them from your computer no matter what system you’re running.
Who this is for: Scrapy is an open source web scraping library for Python developers looking to build scalable web crawlers. It’s a comprehensive web crawling framework that handles all of the plumbing (queueing requests, proxy middleware, etc.) that makes building web crawlers difficult.
Why you should use it: As an open source tool, Scrapy is completely free. It is battle-tested, and has been one of the most popular Python libraries for years. It’s lauded as the best python web scraping tool for new applications. There is a learning curve, but it’s well-documented and there are numerous tutorials available to help you get started. In addition, deploying the crawlers is very simple and reliable, the processes can run themselves once they are set up. As a fully featured web scraping framework, there are many middleware modules available to integrate various tools and handle various use cases (handling cookies, user agents, etc.).
Who this is for: Diffbot is an enterprise-level solution for companies who have highly specified data crawling and screen scraping needs, particularly those who scrape websites that often change their HTML structure.
Why you should use it: Diffbot is different from most web page scraping tools out there in that it uses computer vision (instead of html parsing) to identify relevant information on a page. This means that even if the HTML structure of a page changes, your web scrapers will not break as long as the page looks the same visually. This is an incredible feature for long-running mission critical web scraping jobs. Diffbot is pricey (the cheapest plan is $299/month), but they do a great job offering a premium service that may make it worth it for large customers.
Who this is for: Python developers who just want an easy interface to parse HTML, and don’t necessarily need the power and complexity that comes with Scrapy.
Why you should use it: Like Cheerio for NodeJS developers, BeautifulSoup is by far the most popular HTML parser for Python developers. It’s been around for over a decade now and is extremely well documented, with many web parsing tutorials teaching developers to use it to scrape various websites in both Python 2 and Python 3. If you are looking for a Python HTML parsing library, this is the one you want.
Who this is for: Puppeteer is a headless Chrome API for NodeJS developers who want very granular control over their scraping activity.
Why you should use it: As an open source tool, Puppeteer is completely free. It is well-supported and actively being developed and backed by the Google Chrome team. It is quickly replacing Selenium and PhantomJS as the default headless browser automation tool. It has a well-considered API, and automatically installs a compatible Chromium binary as part of its setup process, so you don’t have to keep track of browser versions yourself.
Who this is for: Enterprises looking for a cloud-based, self-serve webpage scraping platform need look no further. With over 7 billion pages scraped, Mozenda has experience in serving enterprise customers from all around the world.
Why you should use it: Mozenda set themselves apart with their customer service (providing both phone and email support to all paying customers). The platform is highly scalable and will allow for on-premise hosting as well. Like Diffbot, they are a bit pricey, with their lowest plan starting at $250/month.
11. ScrapeHero Cloud
Who this is for: ScrapeHero is cloud-based and user-friendly, which makes it ideal if you’re not a programmer. You’ll just need to provide the inputs, click ‘gather data’ and you’ve got actionable data in JSON, CSV or Excel formats.
Why you should use it: ScrapeHero has created a browser-based, automated scraping tool that lets you download anything you want on the Internet into spreadsheets with just a few clicks. It’s more affordable than their full services, and there’s a free trial. It uses pre-built crawlers with auto rotating proxies. Real-time APIs scrape data from some of the largest online retailers and services, including maps, product pricing, the latest news and more. This data as a service tool is perfect for businesses, especially those interested in AI.
Who this is for: Another user-friendly option for non-developers, WebScraper.io is a simple Google Chrome browser extension. It’s not as full-featured as the other web scraping tools on this list, but it’s an ideal user-friendly option for those who are working with smaller amounts of data that don’t need a lot of automation.
Why you should use it: WebScraper.io helps users set up a sitemap on navigating a given website and exactly what information it will scrape. The additional plugin can handle multiple JS and Ajax pages at a time, and developers can build their own scrapers that will extract data directly into CVS from the browser, or to CVS, XLSX and JSON from Web Scraper’s cloud. You can also schedule regular scrapes with regular IP rotation. The browser extension is free, but you can give their paid services a try with a free trial.
Honorable Mention 1. Kimura
Who this is for: Kimura is an open source web scraping framework written in Ruby, making it incredibly easy to get a Ruby web scraper up and running.
Why you should use it: Kimura is quickly becoming recognized as the best Ruby web scraping library, as it’s designed to work with headless Chrome/Firefox, PhantomJS, and normal GET requests all out of the box. It’s syntax is similar to Scrapy and developers writing Ruby web scrapers will love all of the nice configuration options to do things like set a delay, rotate user agents, and set default headers.
Honorable Mention 2. Goutte
Who this is for: Goutte is an open source web crawling framework written in PHP, making it super useful for developers looking to extract data from HTML/XML responses using PHP.
Why you should use it: Goutte is a very straight forward, no frills framework that is considered by many to be the best PHP web scraping library, as it’s designed for simplicity, handling the vast majority of HTML/XML use cases without too much additional cruft. It also seamlessly integrates with the excellent Guzzle requests library, which allows you to customize the framework for more advanced use cases.
So, what is the best web scraping tool?
The open web is by far the greatest global repository for human knowledge, and there is almost no information that you can’t find through extracting web data. Because web scraping is done by many people of various levels of technical ability and know-how, there are many tools available. There are web data scraping tools that service everyone from people who don’t want to write any code, to seasoned developers just looking for the best open source solution in their language of choice. As such, there isn’t one single best web scraping tool- it all depends on your needs. Hopefully though, this list of scraping tools has helped you identify the best web data scraping tools and services for your own specific projects or businesses.
Plenty of the scraping tools listed above offer free or reduced-cost trial periods, so you can make sure that they’ll work for your specific business use case. That said, some of them will be more reliable and effective than others. If you’re looking for a tool that can handle data requests at scale, and at a good price, it’s worthwhile to reach out to a sales rep to make sure that they’ll be able to deliver – before signing any contracts.
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