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Web Crawling vs Web Scraping – What’s The Difference?

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Today we are talking about the differences between Web Crawling and Web Scraping. Read this article to know why these two terms do not mean the same. On our channel, we share thoughts on recent developments in the tech industry, follow us not to miss new articles.

There are many ways to gather information from the internet. Web crawling and web scraping are two of the most common ones. While most people use these terms interchangeably. In reality, they are not the same thing.


What is Web Crawling?

Web crawling is the process of using tools to read, copy and store the content of websites for archiving or indexing purposes. Basically, it’s what search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo do. They use crawling to look through the websites, discover what content they include and build entries for search engine index.

What is Web Scraping

Web scraping is the process of extracting a large amount of specific data from online sources. The extracted data is often further interpreted and parsed by data analysts to make more balanced business decisions.

How do Web Crawling vs Scraping work?

Web Crawling

Web crawling is performed by special bots or programs called web crawlers or web spiders. As a rule, a web crawler executes the following steps:

  • It visits the initial list of specific URLs, also called seeds. During the visits, the crawler locates the content on the web pages, conveys it to the database and adds it to the search engine index.
  • After indexing, it identifies other links found on the initial web pages and adds them to the frontier.
  • Then, the crawler repeats steps one through three with new links until the frontier is empty.

Most sites use search engine optimization methods to make their content easily discoverable by web crawlers and thus rank higher in search engine results.

Web Scraping

This process is usually performed by special programs called web scrapers. Generally, data scraping consists of the following steps:

  • A web scraper takes the list of URLs, it loads all the HTML code for these websites then it gathers all data or data of the predefined type.
  • Finally, it downloads the data and saves it in SQL, XML or Excel format.

Tools used for these data gathering methods

Web Crawlers

  • Apache Nutch
  • Stormcrawler
  • Screaming frog
  • Semrush
  • Deepcrawl

All of them allow you to automate crawling activities and scan thousands of websites for the requested content.

Web Scrapers

  • ScrapingBee
  • Octoparse
  • Scrapy
  • ParseHub
  • FMinor

These apps can automate data extraction from multiple online sources as long as you know what type of content you’re looking for.

Use Cases

Web Crawling

  • Generating search engine results
  • Monitoring SEO analytics to research most relevant keywords
  • Performing website SEO analysis to find common errors like pages that return 404 or 500 errors.

Web Scraping

  • Generating leads
  • Comparing prices
  • Stock market analysis
  • Managing brand reputation
  • Market research for new products
  • Academic and scientific research
  • Collecting data sets for machine learning.

To summarize our data scraping and data crawling comparison, we would like to emphasize that both are essential methods of collecting data.

  • Web crawling is applied for indexing pages based on the content whereas web scraping is used for extracting information from the contents of the page
  • Data crawling uses crawler bots while data scraping needs scraper bots
  • Web scraping is used by small and large businesses, web crawling is performed only by large corporations.

We hope that now the differences between data crawling and data scraping are clear for you. This article was prepared by the EZtek team. EZtek helps top brands worldwide to innovate and accelerate digital transformation. We provide world-class enterprise software development, design and technology consulting services.


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