Web Scraping Basics – A Beginner’s Guide

Web scraping is a revolutionary technique for automating knowledge extraction from the internet. With the help of a powerful data scraping tool, modern companies and business-minded individuals can collect lifetimes’ worth of information in a matter of seconds.

As a simple yet incredibly effective idea, web scraping has taken over the web in the last decade. Today, even the smallest businesses and beginner freelancers use some form of automated data collection to gather valuable information for analysis and other tasks.

While intimidating at first, data scraping procedures are simple and easy to learn. In this guide, we explain the concept of web scraping for beginners. Here you will find the basic structure of a data scraping tool, their functionality, and the most important use cases. The most valuable targets and sources of public data often have built-in protections to block web scrapers and other automated connections. To protect your bot, we recommend using residential or datacenter proxies. With their help, your scripted connections will operate under a different IP address, allowing you to bypass restrictions and never expose your identity. For more information on datacenter proxies and other types of servers, check out Smartproxy – one of the best providers in the industry with beginner-friendly blog articles to help you hit the ground running. Web Scraping Basics – A Beginner's Guide 1

Web scraping basics explained

Web scraping, also known as data scraping, is a process that automates the extraction of a rendered HTML code that appears on a web page on your browser. The web scraping script or a tool sends an HTTP request to the web server to retrieve the code and save it on your computer.

Once the document is in your data storage, you can run it to make it appear again on your browser, with no internet connection required. While some elements will change, for example, you will not see ads and other similar elements, the base public data remains available.

But web scrapers are not just glorified tools for downloading data. The next part is what gives data collection tools their immense value. Once the HTML file is in your data storage, data scrapers use additional tools and libraries to restructure information into a readable and understandable format. If you look at the data through a browser, then it’s not any different than accessing it as any user would. Web scrapers eliminate any clutter and useless data, leaving you with only the most valuable information, usually presented in a data set.

Data scraping components

This section covers two base components of most web scrapers. Understanding them will help you use any data collection tool, from a primitive script to complex software and achieve results right out of the gate.

Web crawler

Web crawler automates the process of going to a page and saving its HTML file. Many modern web crawlers are capable of extracting the main page and all internally linked pages to collect all public data from the site. Some users automate web crawlers to continuously extract data from the most important data sources to track any trends and changes.

Data parser

Data parsers remove the excess clutter and HTML elements to leave you with a clean and organized data set. By removing the unnecessary code elements, data scientists prepare the extracted information for analysis and further tasks.

Web scraping benefits

Web scrapers are amazing helpers for data-sensitive tasks. Here we present the biggest benefits and use cases for all users.

Data collection for casual web surfers

With automated data collection, casual users can keep track of travel tickets, rented apartments, and other prices by continuously extracting and parsing information from the most important websites. Even if their profession has nothing to do with data science, web scraping can be a very helpful skill for private browsing sessions.

Web scraping for business-minded individuals

Freelancers often use web scraping for assistance with research and analysis for many different markets. By selling data aggregation services to clients, data scientists build a strong and reputable resume to attract more opportunities or transition to working with data full-time.

Data scraping benefits for companies

Modern businesses use many data-scraping bots at the same time to track competitors, their prices, and any other changes. Web crawling is also used to extract information from social media platforms and search engines. By gaining precise and accurate insight in a matter of minutes, it feels like businesses that specialize in data scraping are always two steps ahead of their competitors.

I want to learn web scraping – where do I start?

If you are eager to get into data scraping, Python will be your best friend. It is the most popular programming language that is easy to learn and has tons of libraries for many unique use cases. For example, BeautifulSoup is a powerful parsing library with many functions that deconstruct HTML code into a readable and understandable format. With constant updates, a vibrant community, and tons of informative tutorials, you will be able to code your first web scraping script in no time!


Web scraping is a simple yet powerful skill that is easy to learn and presents tons of creative growth opportunities. Python is the best language to start learning web scraping, and anyone can begin their data science journey with a text editor and a stable internet connection.

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