In today's business world, smart data-driven decisions are the number one priority. For this reason, companies track, monitor, and record information 24/7. The good news is there is plenty of public data on servers that can help businesses stay competitive.
The process of extracting data from web pages manually can be tiring, time-consuming, error-prone, and sometimes even impossible. That is why most web data analysis efforts use automated tools.
Web scraping is an automated method of collecting data from web pages. Data is extracted from web pages using software called web scrapers, which are basically web bots.
What is data extraction, and how does it work?
Data extraction or web scraping pursues a task to extract information from a source, process, and filter it to be later used for strategy building and decision-making. It may be part of digital marketing efforts, data science, and data analytics. The extracted data goes through the ETL process (extract, transform, load) and is then used for business intelligence (BI). This field is complicated, multi-layered, and informative. Everything starts with web scraping and the tactics on how it is extracted effectively.
Before automation tools, data extraction was performed at the code level, but it was not practical for day-to-day data scraping. Today, there are no-code or low-code robust data extraction tools that make the whole process significantly easier.
What are the use cases for data extraction?
To help data extraction meet business objectives, the extracted data needs to be used for a given purpose. The common use cases for web scraping may include but are not limited to:
Online price monitoring: to dynamically change pricing and stay competitive.
Real estate: data for building real-estate listings.
News aggregation: as an alternative data for finance/hedge funds.
Social media: scraping to get insights and metrics for social media strategy.
Review aggregation:scraping gathers reviews from predefined brand and reputation management sources.
Lead generation: the list of target websites is scraped to collect contact information.
Search engine results: to support SEO strategy and monitor SERP.
Is it legal to extract data from websites?
Web scraping has become the primary method for typical data collection, but is it legal to use the data? There is no definite answer and strict regulation, but data extraction may be considered illegal if you use non-public information. Every tip described below targets publicly available data which is legal to extract. However, it is still illegal is to use the scrapped data for commercial purposes.
How to extract data from a website
Manually extracting data from a website (copy/pasting information to a spreadsheet) is time-consuming and difficult when dealing with big data. If the company has in-house developers, it is possible to build a web scraping pipeline. There are several ways of manual web scraping.
1. Code a web scraper with Python
2. Use a data service
Data service is a professional web service providing research and data extraction according to business requirements. Similar services may be a good option if there is a budget for data extraction.
3. Use Excel for data extraction
This method may surprise you, but Microsoft Excel software can be a useful tool for data manipulation. With web scraping, you can easily get information saved in an excel sheet. The only problem is that this method can be used for extracting tables only.
4. Web scraping tools
Modern data extraction tools are the top robust no-code/low code solutions to support business processes. With three types of data extraction tools – batch processing, open-source, and cloud-based tools – you can create a cycle of web scraping and data analysis. So, let's review the best tools available on the market.
SaaS (Software as a Service) web data integration tool covers the whole cycle of web extraction within its platform. For famous eCommerce growth, market, and competitor analysis, the tool may become an integral part of the workflow for keeping abreast of market development.
Search and product rankings
Availability and inventory
Function: large-scale data scraping in a feasible format
Octoparse is an efficient way to get everything done with a single solution, providing a scraping tool for small businesses and enterprises. The platform is compatible with Windows and Mac OS, providing data extraction in three simple steps.
Function: static and dynamic website scraping, data extraction from complex websites, processing information not showing on the website
Web Scraper promises accessible and easy data extraction and duplication of entire website content if required. The tool offers cloud extension for extensive volume data and chrome extension that works on a predefined sitemap to navigate and extract data.
Function: extracting data from dynamic websites, modular selector system, exCSV, XLSX, and JSON.
A no-code data extraction tool offers simple web scraping with simplified ETL processes from any source. Three-step data extraction loads information into an analysis-ready form, thus facilitating further processes.
Function: fault-tolerant architecture for secure, consistent extraction, horizontal scaling to handle millions of records with little latency.
You can scrape data from any website and transfer it directly to your favorite apps using the Bardeen scraper. You can use the scraper to do things like copy LinkedIn profile data to your Notion database with a single click, save noteworthy tweets to a Google Doc, and more. Bardeen also has a scraper template we highly recommend you check out.
Function:Data scraping on an active tab, URLs in the background,
The simple cloud-based web scraping tool helps extract information from web pages and get structured data used in the BI system. The data can be exported in multiple formats: JSON, CSV, XML, TSV, XLSX.
ScrapingBot is a safe data extraction tool to get data from a URL. It is mainly used to aggregate product data and optimize marketing efforts and market presence. The tool also provides API integration for the data collection on social networks and Google search results.
Product information (title, price, description, stock, etc.)
Function: big data scraping, scraping with headless browsers.
Automatio is a no-code Chrome extension that helps you accomplish web-based tasks. Automatio lets you create a bot to extract data from any web page and even monitor websites. The data can be exported in CSV, Excel, JSON, or XML.
Function: data scraping when logged off, dealing with complex scenarios, and big data scraping.
ScrapeStorm is our next data extraction tool. ScrapeStorm is the best tool for starters since it’s used to scrape data from any website and supports all operating systems. The tool is even free and doesn't require any technical background
Function: visual click operation, multiple data exportation options, cloud account
Scrapio is a no-code web scraper that helps business automate their workflow and spend less time on data extraction. You can extract content from any web page, manage scraped data and even repair data scraping on the scraped links.
Function: multiple filetypes, auto content detection.
Scrapex is our next no-code data extraction tool. It has all the features and functionalities that come to mind when you think about data scraping. Scrapex can handle any website, lets you export data in Excel, CSV, JSON.
Sales and Marketing
Function: Cookie support, data extraction APIs, Captcha handling
ProWebScraper is our final data scraping tool which will help taking your automation to a next level with its robust features that manage to scrape 90% of web pages on the web. The tool allows you to extract data from multiple pages simultaneously, generate URLs automatically, and much more.
Function: Access data via API, custom selector
Wrapping up: How to store extracted data
Implementing data extraction may facilitate the workflow and unload data research teams. Moreover, regular data extraction will help you track market fluctuations and optimize processes to stay competitive.
Data extraction is a great one on its own but organized storage and easy access are of no less significance. If the extracted data is stored chaotically, it will be time-consuming to get it analyzed no matter how valuable the information is.
To have data safely stored, use Airtable to store JSON or CSV formats in a shared view and visualize through Softr to get the information in a more user-friendly and structured look.
Softr is an easy-to-use no-code platform that turns Airtable bases into powerful web apps, member-only websites, and client portals. Softr offers a way for you to authenticate your end-users, control access to your content and data based on conditional rules like roles, logged-in status, subscription plans, etc. If you're using Airtable as a product catalog you can use a Softr template to build your e-commerce website. Or maybe you'd like to build a custom website for your travel journal, there's a template for that too!