Data collection tools nowadays are as sophisticated as ever. With the growing amount of data on the world wide web, companies and individuals keep finding new ways to take advantage of this information.
Scraping API is one of the newest methods of facilitating data retrieval and interpretation. It is a combination of two phenomena: data scraping and API. In this article, you’ll find thorough explanations of these terms, and you’ll find out how a scraping API can benefit your business.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web scraping refers to the process of collecting large amounts of data from across the internet. For example, websites that sell plane tickets from many different providers scrape the data from various websites once a request is made. This allows businesses and customers to compare market prices and make more informed decisions.
The problem with web scraping is that IP addresses often get blocked from performing an extensive number of searches because they get flagged as spammy. This is where proxy servers can come in. Proxy servers provide alternative IP addresses that help overcome such blocks and allow for the collection of as much data as needed.
What Is an API?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is the link between your device and everything that is delivered to it at your request. Think of an API as a virtual delivery man. For example, if you want to know the weather, you ask your delivery man to tell you. He then asks the weather app for the current weather and brings that information back to you.
APIs are the basis of everything that you do online. Without them, all virtual links would be cut, and we would have petabytes of data on the web but no way of accessing it.
What Is a Scraping API?
A scraping API is a data extraction tool designed for specific websites, databases, or programs. Its goal is to provide valuable and structured data to people and eliminate the need for individual research and data scraping.
A great example of a scraping API is Ahrefs: a website that provides SEO data on websites and keywords. Ahrefs has a sophisticated algorithm and data scraping model that provides information on keyword difficulty, volume, organic and paid traffic to websites, etc.
Since Ahrefs has a ton of data, a scraping API makes the process of extracting the data very quick and easy. For example, users can enter a keyword into the search bar and get all SEO-related information about it that Ahrefs has collected.
What Are the Benefits of Scraping API?
Scraping API has a range of benefits both for the user and the API developer:
- Saved time. Instead of manually searching for each piece of information, a scraping API automates the process, and thousands of requests can be narrowed down to one.
- Structured data. Regular web scraping provides lots of unorganized data that must be thoroughly processed to draw insights. On the other hand, a scraping API filters out unnecessary data and provides only relevant data in a structured and legible format.
- The website isn’t overwhelmed by traffic. A scraping API is also beneficial to the website or program owner because it discourages independent scraping. Users don’t need to send out thousands of requests and put the data together themselves, and the website doesn’t need to deal with website crashes due to such high amounts of traffic.
What Are the Downsides of Scraping APIs?
Although scraping APIs are great, they do have a couple of downsides and may not always be the best option:
- Amount of data provided depends on the owner. The data received through a scraping API is conveniently structured, but you may not be getting everything you need. Important data may be intentionally omitted and only be accessible upon further payment.
- May be expensive. API scraping usually costs money. Sometimes it can be so expensive that web scraping is a better option.
What’s Better: Scraping API or Independent Web Scraping?
A scraping API is usually a more convenient choice than regular web scraping because of the benefits already mentioned. However, sometimes taking web scraping into your own hands might be a better option.
It really comes down to the available scraping APIs and their prices. Oftentimes, the data you need may not be available through any scraping API, leaving no choice but to do your own research. However, if you find a scraping API that provides you with all of the data you need at a reasonable price, then that’s definitely the way to go.
Scraping APIs can provide great value to businesses. Because of the simplicity of data retrieval and interpretation, decision-makers can make highly informed decisions and grow their competitive edge. Hopefully, this article helped you grasp the concept of a scraping API, and you’ll know how to apply it to your business!