The Internet includes vast amounts of information, and having access to valuable data can really jumpstart a business. But manually collecting and storing anything we find helpful would be a pain in the neck.
After figuring out what data to gather, the other big issue is collecting it and storing it in a fast, straightforward manner. If you’re looking for a tool to go through thousands of web pages, look no further than a web scraping API.
An efficient one can provide you with all the data you need. Just point it in the right direction, and you are all set.
However, the process of choosing an API can take time, as they come in various shapes and sizes, and it really all depends on your needs. So I took the time to look for the best ones, so you’ll get a better sense of what to look for when picking one out for your business.
Scraping API basics
Web scraping is becoming more and more popular these days, and before diving into more specific elements, it would be a good idea to briefly talk about what this process means and how it relates to APIs.
In short, web scraping is the automated process of collecting data from the Internet. A web scraping tool is a bot that grabs HTML code from web pages. It’s a fast, reliable way to collect and store data from the Internet. And it excels at gathering information from several different websites.
Scrapers come in different forms. They can use a simple visual interface or act as a browser extension. However, because of their nature, I think APIs make the most efficient data extraction tools.
In essence, an API or Application Programming Interface connects different programs, allowing them to work together without having identical architectures and parameters. But what are the advantages of web scraping with an API?
Why use an API for scraping?
With enough monk patience, you can build your own web scraping API. After all, it’s a creation tailored after needs. However, a homemade web scraper can run into many obstacles. Roadblocks that ready-made API know how to bypass.
There is something you should always keep in mind. In general, websites don’t want bots accessing their website, and web admins will usually set several countermeasures to detect and ban this kind of activity.
Captchas are often necessary to block programs designed for spamming or other malicious actions. However, they can also bar a scraper from accessing websites or specific sections. With an excellent API tool, you can bypass this measure easily, and then it’s business as usual. You can collect the required information from the web page in no time at all.
Another big challenge for web scrapers is IP detection and banning. Besides captchas, websites use algorithms that notice suspicious IPs. Unfortunately, one of those activities is making a massive number of requests simultaneously, which scrapers do. This problem can be solved with an API that has a vast proxy pool. When you have an intermediary server between you and the website you’re scraping, it can only ban the proxy. However, you need to familiarize yourself with the types of proxies to know which are the right ones for you.
Now that we know the benefits of web scraping with an API let’s look at some of the best ones available.
A top 5 you can rely on
There are plenty of data extraction solutions out there. I compiled a list of what I think are the best ones right now. After browsing through it, I believe you’ll be ready to pick one that fits your business and needs.
The tool is easy to use and, with a little patience, can also be utilized by non-developers. You can try it for yourself with no credit card required. The free plan comes with 1000 free API calls every month.
ScrapeHero flips the script a little bit. Instead of coming up with one API that works in all situations, the developers have decided to build several tools based on a particular goal. Their APIs are very efficient on the intended targets but don’t work on other sites. This is a dependable solution for when you need data from several different websites. It may not be that structured when compared with other tools, but the prices are affordable.
Their APIs focus primarily on Amazon and Walmart data. They cover everything from product details and pricing to search results and reviews.
In addition, you can also build your custom web scraper with this service. In a sense, it’s like creating your own tool, but with more spending instead of working on it yourself. This is a great way to implement your ideas when you don’t have a lot of time or desire to do it from scratch.
However, the developers have also created specialized APIs. For example, besides their regular scraper, they’ve made an API to extract data from Google search results pages.
The Diffbot team offers many different scraping solutions, depending on the various types of information one might want to collect. They provide basic scraping features such as JS rendering and proxies but are also more focused on data processing.
Analyze API is the most versatile of the tools, as it identifies what kind of page it receives and returns structured data on the different types of content it encounters. Diffbot also includes APIs for eCommerce pages, image-focused scraping, and forum scraping, among others.
Choosing between the different types of tools uses credits, so they should be used only when necessary. Additionally, Diffbot is generally more expensive than other products, so it’s up to you to determine its cost-effectiveness.
Lastly, ScraperStack is a pretty straightforward tool that includes a live demo on its homepage. While you can’t customize the request beyond what page to scrape, they have a pool of more than 35 million proxies (both standard and premium), which is enough for starting users who want to avoid being blocked.
Moreover, they also have access to IPs from more than one hundred countries, and their product handles over a billion requests each month. However, their basic plan only offers access to standard proxies, which might be hard to work with when scraping more complex sites, like Amazon.
Choosing the right API for you
When it comes to choosing one of these options, it’s all about what you need and your preferred programming language. I would suggest checking all of these products and carefully reading their documentation to find out which one is right for you.
Then, the next step is to try them. Not sure how to start? Here are five questions to answer before embarking on your scraping journey.