The terms Web Scraping and Web Crawling are often used interchangeably.

However, while these terms share many similarities, there are key differences that set them apart.

Let’s break down the definitions of both these terms and look at the differences between them.

What is Web Scraping?

Web Scraping refers to the extraction of data from a website or webpage. Usually, this data is extracted on to a new file format. For example, data from a website can be extracted to an excel spreadsheet.

Web Scraping can also be done manually, although in most cases automated tools will be used to extract the data.

One key aspect of Web Scraping is that it is often done with a focused approach. This means that Web Scraping projects seek to extract specific data sets from a website for further analysis.

For example, a company might extract product details from laptops listed on Amazon in order to figure out how to position their new product in the market.

Want to learn more about web scraping? Check out our in-depth guide on web scraping and what it is used for.

What is Web Crawling?

Web Crawling refers to the process of using bots (or spiders) to read and store all of the content on a website for archiving or indexing purposes.

Search engines (such as Bing or Google) use web crawling to extract all the information from a website and index it in their search engines. That’s how Google can tell what pages will have the information you’re looking for.

What’s the Difference Between Web Scraping and Web Crawling?

At this point, you might already be able to tell the difference between Web Scraping and Web Crawling. Even if both terms refer to the extraction of data from websites.

A Web Crawler will generally go through every single page on a website, rather than a subset of pages.

On the other hand, Web Scraping focuses on a specific set of data on a website. These could be product details, stock prices, sports data or any other data sets.

In short, Web Scraping has a much more focused approach and purpose while Web Crawler will scan and extract all data on a website.

Closing Thoughts

Due to the differences in goals and applications for web crawling and web scraping, apps for web scraping and web crawling are drastically different as well.

If you’re looking for a web scraper for your next project, check out our guide on what’s the best web scraping software. We obviously recommend ParseHub, a free and easy-to-use web scraper that can scrape data from any website.