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The Difference Between Web Scraping and Web Scraping API – A Comparison of Techniques

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Manual data collection is very difficult, resource intensive, and time-consuming. Therefore there are special tools – scrapers- to solve data collection issues. They can scrape pages in seconds, getting all the data into tables.

These tools are divided into two categories:

  1. Web scraping services.
  2. Web scraping APIs.

So, let’s see where they can be used and which tool is better.

Scope of Web scraping and Web Scraping API

Web scraping and the Web Scraping API are good ways to collect and process data quickly. The user should only analyze them. Here are some examples of why they can be helpful.

Brand monitoring

To always stay abreast of ongoing changes, they need to be monitored. For example, a scraper could help find brand mentions in news articles or social media. Constant monitoring of such changes would help in the development of the product.

Brand protection

Data scraping can help to find not only brand mentions but also harmful content. For example, in case of patent theft or trademark infringement.

Price tracking

To know about the needs and possibilities of buyers, it is necessary to monitor the reaction of buyers to price changes. It will also be helpful to track the prices of competitors in order not to lose customers.

Advertising campaigns

Web scraping can help to quickly and accurately collect user and company databases for online mailings. New customers can be found using forum scraping, and suppliers can be found using search results scraping.

Real estate asset management

In the real estate industry, search robots and scrapers are often used because of their ability to analyze market data and trends. For example, scraping would be justified to collect detailed information about properties or specific groups of buildings, regardless of asset class (office, industrial, or retail), which helps leasing companies gain a competitive advantage.

Easy Scraping with Web Scraping API

Services that provide API for web scraping is very convenient for developing applications. As a rule, they provide an API and a unique API key that allows using the service’s capabilities for site scraping.

Of course, the new scraper can be created without using scraping API. But in this case, a person will have to solve the issues of bypassing locks, using proxies, solving captchas, and setting headers. As a rule, services take care of all these concerns, and, in general, scraping using the web scraping API looks like this:

  1. Selecting the site for scraping data from.
  2. Transferring the site address via POST or GET request to the API, depending on the requirements of the service.
  3. Obtaining the necessary data from the site.
  4. Processing of received data.

In this case, it all comes down to the fact that all the hard work is done independently of the user, and this scraping will not be displayed on the user himself.

If the user decided to scrape the data himself and perform all the actions on his own, without using the API, his actions’ algorithm would look like this:

  1. Selecting the site for scraping data from.
  2. Connecting a random proxy from the proxy pool.
  3. Set headers.
  4. Setting Cookies.
  5. Connect Headless Browser.
  6. Connect to the site from which you want to collect data.
  7. Monitoring of captchas and in case of their occurrence:
    1. Connection to the captcha solving service.
    2. Submitting captcha for the solution.
    3. Get the captcha solution.
    4. Sending captcha to the site.
  8. Data collection.
  9. Processing of received data.

It is worth remembering that proxies and services for solving captchas are paid.

Therefore, using the API for web scraping is more convenient and sometimes cheaper. In addition, it is a fairly flexible tool, and it does not impose restrictions on the data that can be scraped.

At the same time, API for web scraping is equally effective for scraping a large amount of data and small projects. And the ability to embed it in applications makes them even more attractive.

Easy Data with Web Scraping

Web scraping is another way to collect data quickly. This option is suitable for those who are not familiar with programming. As a rule, online scraping services charge for the amount of data that needs to be collected. So, this approach is extremely costly for big projects and large amounts of information.

At the same time, such services are often used by managers, for example, when it is necessary to scrape small amounts of information but do it periodically, say, once a week.

Payment for such services is an order of magnitude higher than for using the API. In addition, depending on the service, not all data may be available.

All services for web scraping can be conditionally divided into two types:

  1. Programs for data collection.
  2. Companies providing data collection services.

In the case of software, one might have heard of special scraping software or browser plugins. They are quite effective and affordable but absolutely not flexible. As a rule, such programs have built-in scrapping patterns and behavior models.

If the site structure turns out to be different, such scrapers are powerless.

At the same time, some companies offer their services for data scraping. In such cases, as a rule, there is communication with the manager, who can describe the possibilities and conditions and find out what the client needs. It will also allow specifying in what form the data is needed.

Companies’ services cost more than software subscriptions but offer more flexibility, although at a higher cost.

Comparison of Web Scraping and Web Scraping API

Let’s make a table for comparison. It is worth mentioning that web scraping will be understood as the services of companies providing data.

web scraping Web Scraping API
Price High Low
Possibility of implementation in own software No Yes
Maintaining anonymity (no one knows exactly what data you collect) No Yes
The need for knowledge of programming languages No Yes
Speed of getting data Slowly Fast
Opportunity to receive the same type of data regularly Yes Yes
Ease of use Very simple Medium

Thus, it is easy to choose the option that is more suitable and convenient. For example, for those who don’t have programming knowledge, Web Scraping is perfect. And those who own Java, C#, Python, Ruby, or something else, can use the web scraping API. 

Top 5 Web Scraping services and Web Scraping APIs

Now that everyone has decided which tool suits them best, let’s voice the websites that provide such services. Let’s start with Web Scraping API services:

  1. Scrape-it.Cloud. Quite a young but rapidly developing service. Provides 1000 trial requests for review. There is a Request Builder that helps to create a request without any special skills. The price for 100,000 requests is 90$.
  2. Scraperapi. Provides 200 trial requests for review. Doesn’t have a Request Builder. Price for 100,000 requests 250$.
  3. Scrapingbee. Provides 40 trial requests for review. There is a Request Builder. Price for 100,000 requests 249$.
  4. ZenScrape. Provides 100 trial requests for review. There is a Request Builder. Price for 100,000 requests 90$.
  5. Prowebscraper. Provides 100 trial requests for review. There is a Request Builder. Price for 100,000 requests 357$.

Now let’s look at the popular Web scraping services:

  1. Octoparse. The trial period for using the program is 14 days. Standard subscription 75$.
  2. Parsehub. The trial period for using the program is 14 days. Standard subscription 189$.
  3. Scrapelabs. A company that performs data collection and sends it on schedule. Standard subscription from 395$.
  4. DataOx. A company that performs data collection and sends it on schedule. Standard subscription from 250$.
  5. Datahut. A company that performs data collection and sends it on schedule. Standard subscription from 100$.

Get acquainted with the specific conditions and learn in detail about each service on their websites.


Data collection is an important part of any manager’s job. It is important to receive up-to-date information in time and process it for a timely response.

However, manually collecting information takes too much time, so scrapers are a great tool to collect huge amounts of information in the shortest possible time.

There are two ways to obtain such data: web scraping APIs or web scraping services that provide data collection cases or ready-made programs.

Each of the considered options has its pros and cons. Depending on the price the user expects and programming skills, it may be more convenient to use the API for Web Scraping or Web scraping Services.