Web Crawling v/s Web Scraping – The Key Differences to Understand

Anyone looking for a way to get bulk public data will have to take the help of web crawling or web scraping. As these two are overlapping terms, many of us consider them the same. However, they are poles apart despite aiming at the same goal or working in the same direction on various fronts.

When gathering data for your organization, having clarity about these two terms is crucial to ensure you use the right data collection tactic. Let’s find out about the meaning, differences, and other essential things about these two terms.

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Web Crawling v/s Web Scraping – Understand The Basics

Let’s start by learning the meaning of these two terms.

web crawler image

Web scraping

It is the process of gathering or extracting public internet data and saving it on a device. CSV and Excel spreadsheets are mainly used to store the collected data. It is both a manual and automatic process. However, manual web scraping is erroneous, limited, and tiresome.

Automatic web scraping is done with the help of bots, scrapers, and APIs. It helps seize vast amounts of data. It won’t require much human effort and can collect massive amounts of data. The prime focus of web extraction is to make an organization data-rich to leverage sales, marketing, and market penetration. However, web scraping is also used for internal growth.

Web scraping is possible in many ways. For instance, you can outsource this service, use a web scraping API, and create your own web scraper to fetch customized data. Web scraping comprises two parts: a crawler and a scraper.

Web Crawling

It is the process of reading and storing the intended content with the help of a bot. There is no human involvement. This is done for indexing and archiving purposes. Primarily, search engines use this process. They crawl the website and index it according to the amount of content and quality.

In short, scraping is about data pulling or extracting, while crawling follows each website link to find out what kind of content it features.

Examples of Both

Simply telling you about facts won’t help much. Learning with examples is best. Hence, we present you examples of both these techniques.

Imagine you’re exploring the world of home automation and stumble upon a blog. If you were to extract the information from that blog, create a new document, and save it, you’d be engaging in web scraping, a technique relevant to your web development and SEO interests.

The best example of web crawling is a search engine like Google and Bing. They both use spider bots to crawl the whole internet data. They go through every website on the internet for indexing purposes. They look for specific keywords in the content and index the page accordingly to improve the search result’s relevancy.

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Web Crawling v/s Web Scraping – The Key Similarities

The main similarity between these two techniques is that they both deal with data and use it for good purposes. Also, they both can be done on a large scale. And, when done on a large scale, both will be done automatically. As mentioned above, web crawling is part of web scraping. They both are legal as long as you have your hands on public data. They both use robot.txt to access the data.

That’s it. Similarities between these two end here.

Web Crawling v/s Web Scraping – The Key Differences

Let’s talk about the differences between these two shares.

The Aim

Web scraping exists to make one data-rich by allowing them to extract public data. Web crawling exists to help search engines rank a web page. At the individual level, crawling refers to going through the links a website has and finding out what sorts of content is on it. Its prime goal is to help one know the website better.

The Scope

Speaking of the reach or extent to which these activities can be performed, we have to tell you that web scraping can be done at any scale, small or large. In fact, an individual can do it for specific purposes. Web crawling is done only on a large scale.

There is quite interesting information that we get from here. As per the discussion, scraping is targeted and requires extensive coding. It will look for a particular data set on a website. However, crawling doesn’t demand extensive coding skills and is general. It will not follow. Instead, it will go through every link and pay attention to every piece of information present on the website.

You need a web scraper for scraping and a crawler to crawl the internet. Scraper is highly advanced and is way ahead of crawlers. For instance, it will have regard for robots.txt, will be able to hide from the browser, act like a user, and work stealthily.

web scrapping vs web crawling comment

The Development

Building a web scraper is a more tedious job than building a web crawler. In web scraper, if you have to be extensively involved in coding. However, the #NoCode movement is now promoting the use of tools that require minimum coding. Web scraper is also possible with no or minimal coding. Still, it’s an extensive job. You have multiple ways to build a scraper. For instance, you can use Python or use Excel for scraping. API usage for web scraping is also on the boom.

Building a crawler is relatively easy. You have to add the URLs you want to visit, copy a link from the URL, and add it to the Visited URL thread. This is the base of web crawler development. There are further steps to follow. But, coding is less.

Is it too much information to grasp? Have a look at this table.

Web Scraping 

Web Crawling

Copy-pasting or extraction of public internet data for various purposes

Going through link after link of a website and finding out what content is present on it. It’s mainly done for indexing.

It can be done at any scale

Mostly done at a large scale

Web scraper takes you to the data

Web crawler takes you to the web pages

Deals in links in a logic

Deals in value present in the HTML


If you want to use public internet data for your own good, understanding the differences between web scraping and web crawling is a must. Scraping is public data collection while crawling is gauging website data. The post did a considerable job of making things clear and provided substantial facts about web crawling v/s web scraping. If you’ve got a few points to share, do it right away in the comments section.

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Is web scraping better than API?

Yes, web scraping is better than API in certain cases. For instance, if you need to get data from multiple websites, web scraping is the right choice, as API will only help you gather data from a single website.

Who uses web scraping?
Is web scraping the same as web mining?
What kind of data can I scrape?


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