Outsourcing has been around so long that a world without it is hard to fathom. What began as a practice that primarily involved outsourcing talent evolved with the introduction of new technologies. Thus, services such as cloud storage, where companies outsource storage, delegating such roles as running and maintaining an on-premise server, securing the infrastructure, and designing the architecture to specialized companies, emerged and have been crystallized in history. In the same way that companies and individuals can outsource storage, so too can they outsource web scraping. And this is where a scraper API comes in. But before explaining what a scraper API is, let’s first discuss web scraping.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the use of bots known as web scrapers to harvest data from websites. These bots can be custom-made using languages such as Python, PHP, C++, Java, and more. Alternatively, you can procure ready-made web scrapers from a company specializing in making these tools.
However, in both of these approaches, you have to contend with separately procuring and integrating the scraper with proxies. In addition, you also have to manage the proxies. (Proxies are intermediaries that hide your real IP address and subsequently assign the web scraping requests a new IP. This promotes anonymity. It also helps prevent IP blocks by making requests appear as though they are originating from different visitors.) One way to get around this hurdle is using scraper APIs.
What is a Scraper API?
A scraper API is a data collection application programming interface (API) that facilitates communication between any application and the service provider’s server. For instance, the application can be a web browser or data analysis software. Using this application, you can send an API call to the server containing a list of web pages whose data you wish to retrieve.
The server is programmed to choose the right proxies based on your unique needs, implement measures that prevent detection, and retrieve data successfully. In fact, reliable service providers equip the server with an auto-retry feature that, as the name suggests, automatically resends the web scraping requests. But this is just one of the many advanced features service providers offer through the scraper API. We have discussed additional features below.
Once the provider’s server receives responses from the web server, it parses this data and stores the now-structured data in JSON. Depending on how you have configured it, the server can then send the harvested data to the application that made the request or to a cloud storage container.
Features of a Scraper API
Depending on the service provider, a scraper API can have some or all of the following features:
- Proxy pool and integrated proxy management
- Auto-retry feature
- Website-specific data collection: the scraper API can be specifically designed to extract data from certain types of websites, e.g., e-commerce sites, search engine results pages (SERPs), real estate websites
- Multiple data delivery options: As stated, a scraper API can deliver data to a cloud storage container or your desired application
- Scheduler: This feature lets you automate recurring web scraping tasks
Benefits of a Scraper API
The benefits of a scraper API include:
- A scraper API saves you time and money, as it alleviates the need to develop and maintain your own web scraper and parsers
- The scraper API eliminates the need for in-house proxy management thanks to the integrated proxy management tool, which gives access to a pool of millions of proxies/IP addresses
- This tool helps retrieve high-quality structured data as and when needed, as it uses a tech stack that is already tried, tested, and well maintained
- The scraper API’s auto-retry feature increases the success rate
- With the scraper API, you only pay for successfully delivered results
- The integrated proxies enable you to bypass geo-restrictions
- It offers excellent scalability meaning it can be used for both bulk and small-scale scraping
Uses of a Scraper API
The scraper API is used in the following ways:
- General web scraping for academic research, market research, website change monitoring, travel fare monitoring, and more
- Extracting data from SERPs, which helps in search engine optimization (SEO)
- E-commerce data harvesting: This helps in review, product, and price monitoring
- Scraping real estate data: This data can then be used to uncover trends in the real estate market, optimize prizes, and identify new investments
A scraper API helps you outsource the technical aspects of web scraping. As a result, you do not have to develop or maintain a web scraper, thus saving time and cost. In addition, it also handles proxy management and implements anti-detection techniques to guarantee success. To put it simply, it lets you concentrate on your core business, which can be data analysis. Thus, if you do not want the hassle of developing and maintaining a web scraper, you should definitely get a scraper API.