What is Web scraping, Web harvesting, or Web data extraction?

Data and information are two terms that are often used interchangeably but there’s a notable difference between them. For example, data refers to bits of information, but not information itself. On the other hand, Information is a set of data which is processed in a meaningful way. With the overwhelming data available on the internet, different approaches like Web Scraping, Web Harvesting or Web Data Extraction are being used to generate actionable and game-changing insights over Internet use. But what exactly they mean in the online world. Let’s take a look!

How does Web Scraping work

Web Scraping

Computer programs designed as Intelligent bots do the work of Web Scraping. Unlike screen scraping, which only copies pixels displayed onscreen, web scraping extracts underlying HTML code and, with it, data stored in a database. The approach has become quite popular. In fact, it is considered as one of the essential skills to acquire in today’s digital world. It has some great applications in compiling large data sets, fundamental to techniques like-

With the rapid expansion of digital information, accessing Big Data via Web Scraping or Web Data Extraction approach has become much easier. Having said that, Web Scraping can be used for digital businesses that rely on data harvesting in both, Legitimate or illegitimate cases. The former includes Benevolent Web Scraping Examples while the latter features Malicious Web Scraping examples.

Benevolent Web Scraping examples

  • Search engine bots crawling a site, analyzing its content to assign a rank based on certain findings, like Google.
  • Price comparison sites deploying bots to auto-fetch prices of products
  • Market research companies using scrapers to extract data from social media (e.g., for sentiment analysis, personal preferences, etc).

Malicious Web Scraping examples

Web Scraping for illegal purposes can inflict severe financial losses if data is extracted without the permission of website owners. The two most common use cases of Malicious Web Scraping are price scraping and content theft.

  • Price Scraping – Scraper bots inspect competing business databases to access pricing information, undercut rivals and boost sales.
  • Content Theft – This illegitimate activity comprises large-scale content theft from a target website. Typical targets mainly include online product catalogs and websites relying on digital content to drive business.

Hope this helps!

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The author Hemant Saxena is a post-graduate in bio-technology and has an immense interest in following Windows, Office and other technology developments. Quiet by nature, he is an avid Lacrosse player. Creating a System Restore Point first before installing a new software, and being careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware is recommended.