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 often consider them the same. But they are poles apart despite being aiming at the same goal or working in the same direction on various fronts.

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

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Web Crawling v/s Web Scraping – Understand The Basics

Let’s start with knowing 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. Mostly CSV and Excel spreadsheets are 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’s useful to seize huge amounts of data. It won’t ask for much human effort and can collect massive 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 web creates your own web scraper that will fetch customized data. Web scraping is made up of 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. Mostly, search engines use this process. They crawl the website and index it according to the content amount and quality.

In short, scraping is about data pulling or extracting, while crawling is following each link of a website 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.

Suppose you need to learn about home automation and visit a blog. If you copy the information of that blog and paste into a new document and save it, you’re scraping the web.

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 each and 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 at 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 to rank a web page. At the individual level, crawling refers to going through the links a website has and finding out what all sort of content is present on it. Its prime goal is to help one to know the website in a better way.

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. Rather, 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 requires 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 that you want to visit and 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 all 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

Conclusion

If you want to use public internet data for your 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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FAQs

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 to make, as API will only help you to 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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