The Pocket Guide to Scraping the Web With an API

Web scraping sounds like a complicated process, but in fact, there are a few simple steps that can lead you to the Internet’s most-wanted treasure: unlimited data.

In this article, you will discover these steps. Moreover, you are going to learn about web scraping using an API, the advantages of using it, but also what challenges you can expect while using it.

If you want to get your hands on an API and start scraping right away, we are offering a free trial of 1000 API calls, so that you can see the benefits right now.

What is web scraping and how does it work

Web scraping, also known as web data extraction, is the process of retrieving available data on public websites so that you or your business can gain valuable insight.

This can be done by writing your own web scraper, which requires high-level coding knowledge and plenty of time, or you can use a pre-built web scraper that can be easily integrated with existing software, just like WebScrapingAPI.

Our product works as a service you don’t have to download, install, or set it up, and it comes with lots of benefits. When using WebScrapingAPI the process will be smooth and simple. Just 3 logical steps:

1. Create a WebScrapingAPI account

This one is quite easy. As mentioned before, you will receive 1000 API calls for free when creating the account, because we want you to enjoy our process and convince yourself about the benefits of using it.

2. Log in and go to the dashboard

Here you will get your API key that is going to be used to authenticate with the API. Make sure you don’t share the key online, as it’s meant to be your unique login credential.

You can check for real-time results using the “API Playground”. After inserting the URL of the page you want to scrape, you will have different options to choose from, so that your scraping is personalized to your needs. You can choose to render the JS or not, same for keeping the headers, the device from which you want to scrape, the proxy type, or even the country.

At this point, the playground also shows the code sample of your request in different programming languages like Python, Ruby, Curl, NET., PHP, Java, and even Golang, in case you wish to do it yourself.

Also, WebScrapingAPI retrieves the whole HTML data of the website you wish to scrape into JSON format, afterward it’s easy to restructure and analyze the data.

3. Integrate WebScrapingAPI with your application

On the documentation page, you will find detailed usage guides along with code examples in different programming languages to help you better understand the process.

That’s it!

You have now successfully scraped a webpage and have all the necessary data by your side.

Use cases of web scraping using an API

Data means power, for every business owner, for every decision-maker in a team. A large amount of information will have a valuable impact when it comes to the course of the decision.

There are some industries and particular situations in which using WebScrapingAPI to extract data enables the road to a rightful decision, that can save time and money.

Market Research

Whether you want to learn about a new market to start a business or you are interested in growing an existing one, market research was and always will be a must for every successful product or service. Using WebScrapingAPI, you can have market insights within minutes and a few clicks, without the effort of putting in hours while searching for the right information.

Price Intelligence

Curiosity never killed the cat and knowing too much was never a problem, especially when releasing a product and adjusting the price based on the market and competitors’. WebScrapingAPI can give you all the answers you need so you can apply the right price to your product and be at least one step ahead of your competitors.

Brand Monitoring

How people feel and think about your product has a great impact on your success and future plans. By using WebScrapingAPI you will always be up to date with your customers’ reviews’ over multiple forums and social media platforms.

Lead Generation

Finding the right customers for your business starts with an exhaustive database in the background and building it implies great effort and time. Having an automated system like WebScrapingAPI can give you a great advantage in front of your competitors.

Real Estate

If you target special acquisitions for investment purposes, collecting available data improves your searches and helps you find better offers. WebScrapingAPI can help you reach the best you can find on the Internet, with just a few clicks.

Financing and Investing

Money runs the world. It’s a fact and we have to accept it as it is. Making informed decisions about where and when to invest, gaining precious insights on public segments, or monitoring the important industry news, can be easy tasks using WebScrapingAPI.

The challenges of web scraping and how to overcome them

While scraping the online environment, there are some challenges that can arise. Most of them have the same purpose: to block your activity so that you stop scraping website pages.

But there is hope. If you use WebScrapingAPI you can just enjoy the results and we will take care of problems like:

IP Blocks:

Many webmasters use anti-bot protection to prevent DoS attacks or to discourage web scraping. If you make plenty of requests in a short time frame or use known proxy IPs, there’s a good chance you’ll get blocked before extracting all the needed data.

WebScrapingAPI uses rotating proxies to prevent that. With each request, the API uses a different IP from its pool of 100+ million datacenter, mobile, and residential proxies across hundreds of ISPs and regions. With such a large proxy pool, you can also choose an IP location suitable for region-locked content.

Fingerprinting:

Besides cookies, many websites use special functions to gather data from visitors and create a profile by which to identify them. That is known as fingerprinting and it can be a major challenge for web scrapers since they are often blocked once identified.

WebScrapingAPI constantly changes your perceived details so websites see the different requests you send as coming from different visitors. Users can set their own custom headers to get customized results, while the anti-fingerprinting functions are automatic.

Dynamic Websites:

Unlike a static website that loads all its HTML code from the start, dynamic websites use Javascript to deliver their content. Without the right environment, the Javascript code doesn’t generate the page HTML scrapers want.

To counter that, WebScrapingAPI uses a headless browser to render Javascript and access all the page’s data.

Captchas:

Another way to prevent bots from doing damage to a website is to use captchas, which many websites do. If a user is acting “suspicious”, like making too many requests, they’ll receive a captcha to solve. In theory, this should be impossible for a bot. The best way to get past captchas is to not run into them in the first place.

WebScrapingAPI automatically rotates proxies, randomizes wait time, user-agent, browser, and device details to circumvent captchas entirely.

All these features will help you save a lot of time while doing web scraping. It will solve problems other products can’t, by using the latest technologies available, powered by Amazon Web Services and with millions of API requests served every month.

Start making better decisions in less time

Web scraping comes in handy to anyone who wants to perform in this hectic business world and it will become more and more a common practice, that’s why you need to be prepared for whatever comes next.

Of course, we are here to help. By managing CAPTCHAs, proxies, Javascript rendering, or proxy rotations on your behalf and giving you access to more than 100M proxies. We just need you to make the first step.

Start with an account and we will be your forever partners.

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