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Web scraping

A technique for automatically extracting information from a website, typically performed by a bot, although it can also be done manually. The end result is a data sheet where information from various pages is aggregated, for example, to compare prices from different online stores.

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Purposes of Web Scraping

The reason for needing data and the nature of the data is what distinguishes ethical scraping from dubious practices. Logically, it is perfectly legitimate to apply web scraping to one's own page with the goal of conducting an audit or analysing the evolution and results of content. In this case, it can be used, for example, to extract page titles, images, and various types of text, such as product descriptions, prices, reviews, etc.

When scraping other websites, including forums or portals, the same information can be collected for competitive analysis. It is also possible to gather contact information of individuals, such as phone numbers, departments, or emails. This seemingly useful practice for business areas is sometimes used to create databases for sale, which may conflict with GDPR because consent is not obtained for receiving messages from companies.

How to scrape a web page

While manual data extraction is possible, it takes a considerable amount of time to achieve a significant volume. On the other hand, using a bot simplifies the process of having to individually enter each page and copy-paste information into a table or database.

There are web scraping tools that facilitate this work, such as or Mozendo. Users simply need to register on these services and enter the URL of the page they want to scrape to obtain results in a few minutes. The results are often presented graphically to facilitate comparative analysis. There may be limitations on the number of visits or update frequency, depending on the bot's configuration.

Preventing a scraping attack

It's common for bots to visit a website, but not all are of interest, as is the case with Google's bot. Therefore, it's possible to try to stop unwanted bots by blocking their IP, using a firewall on the server, or adding a service that checks the origin of the visit, such as ReCaptcha.

While having information under a username and password might seem sufficient for protection, some bots can bypass them. Therefore, additional security measures, such as double registration confirmation, should be implemented to ensure that a person is using the service.