Web scraping is both important and innovative. It is important to ensure you are picking the right solution. We can not overemphasize the place of web scraping in today’s business atmosphere.
There are different ways to scrape useful data on the web ranging from using proxies to scraping API. And choosing which of these solutions to use should be based entirely on how your business functions and what kind of data you require
Regardless, we have described both solutions and even compared their differences to help you see which you need more quickly.
What is web scraping?
We can define the term web scraping easily as automatically extracting valuable data in very large quantities and from different data sources. These data sources could be websites, web servers, social media, discussion groups and forums, and key marketplaces.
This automated process can help you collect important publicly available data that can be used for many significant business operations. These operations include brand monitoring and protection, price and competition monitoring, lead generation, dynamic pricing, and so on.
And some of the major industries that commonly harness the power and enjoy the benefits of web scraping are e-commerce brands, marketing, and advertising, retailing, IT, and finances. Also, some of the benefits include:
- Accuracy of data
- Making key decisions on time
- Consistency, time-saving, and reliability
- Saving cost and reducing workload
- Efficient data management system
The main approaches to web scraping
The two main approaches through which data could be extracted are proxies and the use of a scraping API. Read more about it on the Oxylabs’ blog post or check the text below.
1. Using proxies
A proxy is a tool that can serve as an intermediary between a client’s device and the web. Sitting in the middle, a proxy can intercept a client’s request, and modify it before forwarding it to a target website using its internet protocol (IP) address. It can also interfere with returning traffic, and scrutinize it for malware before passing it back to the internet user.
Consequently, some of the benefits of data scraping with proxies include:
- They can effectively get around different internet blocking, crawl the sources for data more reliably, and return accurate user data in real-time
- They are highly efficient for bypassing geo-restrictions and unblocking restricted contents even from a forbidden location
- Proxies can also save a lot of time and energy by automating web scraping and making multiple requests without getting blocked
- They can increase server performance by using caching mechanism and even prevent server crashing by balancing workload and traffic
2. Using scraping API
A scraping API is a tool or software built for interfacing with other APIs. Its primary objective is to interact with data sources containing APIs, deliver the client’s request and return the response.
This scraping method is becoming increasingly important as many data sources are now being designed to contain an API interface. The scraping API only needs to be modified to interact with these APIs. And once that is done, a single scraping API can extract data from multiple data sources simultaneously, unlike proxies that mostly take it one website at a time.
Some solid benefits offered by scraping APIs are:
- Scraping APIs are highly cost-effective as they do not need a lot of building and management
- Also, they are easily customizable and can be made to extract more information at once. This is good for saving both time and resources.
- Scraping API can automatically handle scraping issues such as setting up headless browsers, choosing URLs, and overcoming CAPTCHAs.
Differences between the two approaches
The two key differences between using proxies and using APIs for web scraping include:
Manner of data extraction
While both solutions are powerful tools for web scraping, the manner of data extraction is completely different. For instance, while proxies extract data from one website at a time, a scraping API can be configured to extract data from more than one source at a time.
Size of business
Another thing that differentiates both solutions is the size of the companies that employ them. Large organizations generally use proxies because they have their own in-house web scraper. Proxies improve their web scrapers so they can access geo-restricted data, avoid IP blocks, etc.
Scraping APIs, on the other hand, are usually utilized by smaller businesses as they are cheaper and readily more affordable.
Also, proxies are used to gather large sums of data, while APIs can extract smaller amounts from various sources.
The place of web scraping in any e-commerce business can not be overlooked. And while proxies and APIs can effectively collect user data in their different ways, there is still a need to pick the perfect fit for your business.
Usually, the best way to choose which of these solutions to use is to first determine the size of your brand and the kind of data you need.
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