What is Web Scraping Software?
Web scraping software are tools that enable webmasters, journalists, bloggers, and virtual assistants to collect readable data from a certain website. The data can be contact details, text, numbers, or images that cannot be manually copied since it is usually unstructured and in huge quantities.
Typically, web scrapers transform the unstructured data from HTML format into structured data and save it in spreadsheets or a local database.
Web scraping software are also used by online marketers to pull essential marketing data privately from their competitors’ websites. For instance, you could pull high targeted keywords, traffic sources, valuable links or emails from a competitor’s website to give you an upper hand. Below are some of the most common reasons why people acquire web scraping tools:
- Price comparison
- Website change detection
- Weather data monitoring
- Web mash up
- Web data integration
- Link audits
- Web indexing
15 Best web scraping tools
You have most likely found hundreds of web scraping tools available on the internet. If it is your first time doing web scraping, there are basic web scraping tools you could get acquainted with first such as Google Web Scrapers, YahooPipes and Outwit Firefox extensions. However, if you are in search of more flexibility and functionality, check out the web scraping tools reviewed below
Scraper API is scraping software for developers building and designing web scrapers. The software handles browsers, proxies, as well as CAPTCHAs to help developers access raw HTML data from any website or page via an API call.
Scraper API, unlike most other scraping software, does not burden you with proxy management as it manages its internal pool of hundreds of thousands of its own proxies from different proxy providers. Scraper API boasts a smart routing logic that automatically throttled requests to avoid CAPTCHAs and IP bans.
We found Scraper API to be the ultimate web scraping tool to invest in for developers. It features special pools for scraping ecommerce pricing proxies, search engine scraping, sneaker scraping, social media scraping, ticket scraping and much more. What’s more, you can ask for a volume discount if you are going to be scraping millions of pages.
For people who need a custom scraper built for them, ScrapeSimple is the perfect choice. ScrapeSimple makes web scraping as straightforward as filling out a few instructions on a form for the kind of data you’d like to scrape.
With a fully managed service, ScrapeSimple lives up to its name building and maintaining custom web scrapers for its customers via a user-friendly interface. By simply providing information on the type of data you need and from which sites, ScrapeSimple will design a custom web scraper for you to deliver the information directly to your mailbox periodically (daily, weekly, monthly or yearly).
This tool is perfect for those looking for a HTML web scraping tool that does not require any knowledge in coding. On top of the simplistic functionality and user-friendly user interface, ScrapeSimple boasts quick response times and incredibly friendly and helpful service, making it the perfect choice for those who want the full data extraction process handled for them.
Like ScrapeSimple, Octoparse is a great choice for those who do not want to code when extracting data from websites. Moreover, it offers full control over the whole extraction process via a user-friendly interface.
Octoparse also features a site parser and a hosted option for those looking for a cloud-based scraping tool. To top it all off, Octoparse comes with an unstinting free tier that allows users to build up to ten web crawlers for free. On their enterprise tier, they also provide fully customized and managed crawlers, which avails all the data you need without necessitating any complicated tasks.
Scrapy is a web crawling tool designed to serve Python developers who are looking to build scalable web crawlers. Scrapy is full on-web crawling software that is created to handle all the complicated plumbing that makes web crawling a hassle.
Scrapy is an open source tool, meaning it comes totally free of charge. What’s more, it is a battle tested platform that has been among the most popular Python libraries for years. It is perhaps the most useful Python web scraping tool for all new applications. It is also well documented with plenty of tutorials on how to get started and set up the platform. In addition, it is pretty straightforward to deploy the crawlers and the processes can run automatically once set up.
Being a fully-featured web scraping framework, Scrapy features plenty of middleware modules to integrate the various tools and handle use cases (user agents, handling cookies, etc.).
Comfortably among the most powerful web scraping tools available, ParseHub does not need any coding experience to get the most out of its features. ParseHub is used by journalists, analysts, data scientists and everyone in between.
Featuring an impressively easy to use interface, ParseHub is pretty easy to use. You can build your web scrapers by simply clicking on the type of data you want to collect. ParseHub exports your data in Excel or JSON formats periodically. It features plenty of handy features including, automated IP rotation, scrolling through dropdowns and tabs, getting data from maps and tables, scraping behind login forms, and many more.
ParseHub offers a generous free plan that allows its users to scrape a maximum of 200 pages in under 40 minutes. What’s more ParseHub provides desktop apps for Windows, Linux, as well as Mac OS, so regardless of the platform you own, you can easily run ParseHub web scraping.
This web scraping tool is designed for enterprises that have specific screen scraping and data crawling needs. In particular, Diffbot is a great option for those of us looking to scrape data out of websites that often change their HTML structure.
Diffbot sets itself apart from most other web scraping software by utilizing computer vision instead of the more typical HTML parsing to identify information on a web page. This is helpful in that even if the HTML structure of a website or web page changes, your web scrapers will not become useless as long as the page maintains its visual outlook. It is an essential feature for those clients looking to run long running critical web scraping jobs.
Diffbot is a bit more pricier than other options on this list with its cheapest plan being priced at $299 per month. However, they offer premium services to keep their large customers satisfied with their value.
If you are a Python developer and do not necessarily need the power and heavy functionality that comes with the likes of Scrapy but still need an easy-to-use interface when parsing HTML, then BeautifulSoup is the tool for you.
BeautifulSoup is by far the most popular HTML parsing tool for Python developers. BeautifulSoup has been around for more than a decade now and they have acquired a lot of expertise in the field over the years. It is not only properly documented but also features a horde of helpful tutorials to teach developers the particulars of website scraping on both Python 2 and 3. If you are in search of a handy Python HTML parsing application, this one is the one for you.
Cheerio and jQuery offer very similar APIs, so developers that are familiar with jQuery will feel very much at home when using Cheerio to crawl HTML web pages. Cheerio is also lightning fast and offers the user multiple helpful ways to extract html, text, classes, ids and more.
Cheerio is by far the most popular HTML NodeJS parsing library, and is perhaps the best NodeJS scraping tool for new projects.
Puppeteer is a headless web scraping Chrome API designed for NodeJS developers looking for a granular control over all their web scraping activity. It is popular for being an open source platform but mostly for its heavy support and active development. It is even backed by Google Chrome itself.
Puppeteer is quickly replacing previously popular browser automation tools like PhantomJS and Selenium. With one of the best thought out APIs, Puppeteer offers automatic installation of the compatible Chromium binary in its setup process. That means you will not have to keep track of the browser versions yourself.
Mozenda is designed to suit the needs of enterprises that need a cloud-based web page scraping application with self-serve capabilities. Mozenda boasts over seven billion pages scraped so far and experience in serving enterprises across the world.
With one of the most robust cloud platforms, Mozenda allows its enterprise users to run web scraping commands on its cloud platform. Mozenda sets itself apart from its competition with its excellent customer support, which offers both email and phone support to all its paying subscribers.
Mozenda’s platform is highly scalable allowing for on premise hosting as well. Like Diffbot, Mozenda is a bit pricier than most other options on this list. Their lowest priced tier starts at $250 per month.
Goutte is a web crawling tool that is written in PHP and comes as an open source platform. It features a super easy data extraction process from HTML or XML formats using PHP. It boasts one of the most efficient and user-friendly interfaces among the listed web scraping software.
Goutte is considered by most of its users as the most efficient PHP web scraping libraries and it is pretty easy to see why. It is extremely straightforward and is designed for simplicity in handling a majority of HTML or XML data formats without too much additional cruft.
Goutte also seamlessly integrates with Guzzle requests library, allowing the user to customize its framework for a more functional use.
Written by Ruby, Kimura is an open source web scraping tool that is meant to make it incredibly straightforward to get a Ruby web scraper set up and to get the most out of it.
Kimura has quickly grown into one of the best Ruby web scraping libraries in the market. Kimura is designed to work seamlessly with headless Chrome or Firefox, normal GET requests, and PhantomJS all from the same box.
Kimura’s syntax is similar to Scrappy’s and all developers with experience running and managing the latter will love the diverse configurations to handle functions such as setting a delay, rotating user agents, and setting default headers.
While using headless Chrome on your local computer may be pretty straightforward, scaling dozens of Chrome in production might not be that easy a task. ScrapingBee solves this problem and many more with a simple API call.
With affordable pricing and substantial power behind its framework, ScrapingBee is the perfect choice for bloggers, freelancers, small and medium businesses that do not intend to manage all the web scraping infrastructure themselves.
Helium is one of the best-known all-in-one windows software that combines a set of off-screen browsers that run extractions and a point-and-click editor to offer the best web scraping experience to its users. The advantage of using this approach is that all extractions are run locally with all the data being saved directly to the local machine. This also means that monthly payments will not be needed and there is no limit to the amount of data you can capture with the web scraper.
With Helium Scraper, you can easily select agents by selecting sample elements in the built-in browser to create selectors. Helium Scraper’s selectors, unlike most other web scrapers, do not just use XPath or CSS, but also utilizes a robust algorithm to identify even those elements whose similarity is negligible.
Content Grabber is among the best enterprise-level web scraping tools. Content Grabber is not only extremely easy to use but also incredibly powerful and highly scalable. Content Grabber has all the features you will find in a premium web scraping software and much more. Content Grabber can handle data extraction on the sites that most other web scraping tools are unable to. It includes web crawler functionality, integration with Google sheets, Google docs, and Drop Box with the ability to extract data to custom data structures in almost any database.
Content Grabber’s visual editor features an easy –to-use point and click use interface. It also automatically detects and configures all required commands to facilitate improved agent quality and decreased management effort. Content Grabber also features centralized management tools for database connections, scheduling, proxies, script libraries and notifications.
Content Grabber also has a dedicated web API that makes it easy to process extracted data and agents on any website. It is the only web scraping software that has a 5-star rating on evaluations of their Web Scraper Test Drive. It offers the option to subscribe to a monthly option or a single payment option.
Open source web scraping tools
Open source web scraping platforms are by far the biggest repository of human knowledge. Open source platforms are completely free of charge and are designed and improved upon by their respective support communities. Since web scraping is a process carried out by people of diverse knowledge and technical ability, there are a horde of tools to service everyone from novice webmasters to seasoned developers looking for a quality open source solution to their specific web scraping needs.
Hopefully, this list has provided you with the most comprehensive view of how you could take advantage of the various available web scraping options for your project or business.
My name is Nate, a digital nomad and the founder of this blog, Nomads HQ. I am a SaaS expert with 4 digital nomad visas and 8 years of experience using 50+ different web tools ranging from podcast, web hosting, email marketing, and much more. I previously managed a team offering support services to a large conglomerate that utilized tens of software solutions. I now run this blog full-time and when I am not reviewing or testing software, I enjoy riding bikes and supporting my clients achieve internet success. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org