(Web) Crawling vs Scraping

Short version:
web scraping = extracting the data from one or more websites
web crawling = about finding/discovering URLs or links on the web, usually in web data extraction projects i.e.: Google’s spider crawler bots
→ 99% of the time people are scraping data. So you’re going to be webs scraping.

What is Web Crawling?

Web crawling, at its core, is an automated process used to browse the World Wide Web systematically. It’s like sending out a team of robot explorers, each tasked to navigate the internet, and cataloging every page they find. This process is the bedrock of search engines, which rely on web crawlers (sometimes referred to as spiders or bots) to build an index of the web.

How Web Crawlers Work

These digital explorers operate by following links from one web page to another. Using algorithms, they decide which pages to visit, how often, and how long to stay. The technology stack behind web crawling includes languages like Python and frameworks like Scrapy, with a focus on efficiency and speed.

Use Cases

The main use of web crawling is in powering search engines, helping them provide relevant, up-to-date search results. It’s also crucial in SEO, where understanding how a crawler navigates your site can lead to better page rankings. Beyond search engines, web crawling is used for data aggregation, monitoring website changes, and even in academic research for indexing scholarly articles.