Application programming interfaces (APIs) are software channels that facilitate programmatic communication between two systems without interdependency.
A recent report estimated that there are close to 200 million public and private APIs. So, these important communication channels are extremely common.
In fact, they can be found in virtually every sphere of the tech industry, including companies that offer software that extracts data from websites in a process known as web scraping. Within the web data harvesting world, these APIs are referred to as scraper APIs.
What is a Scraper API?
A scraper API is a software construct through which a consumer-facing application, such as a script or data analysis software, communicates with a service provider’s web scraping infrastructure.
Being an API, the consumers do not concern themselves with how the provider scrapes the data from websites.
Rather, all they have to do is to set the parameters that the scraper should follow to establish the correct data to extract. They should also input the URLs from which data is to be extracted.
On its part, a service provider uses myriad technologies to ensure successful data extraction. For instance, they can utilize web crawlers to discover new pages that contain the needed data.
More importantly, however, This way, the service provider can extract geo-blocked data or localized search results.
The technologies used by the providers constitute the features of a scraper API. Check out his blog to learn more about the finer details of Scraper APIs.
Features of a Scraper API
This is because such tools are designed to primarily extract data from websites that are based on HTML and XML.
Proxy Manager and Rotator
Most service providers often use proxies, which provide online anonymity and privacy, thus preventing IP blocks. These proxies are drawn from a massive pool of proxy servers from different regions.
To boost the chances of success, the providers also integrate proxy management and rotation tools.
These tools automatically change the assigned IP address throughout a web scraping exercise. In this regard, the proxy manager and rotator prevent IP blocks and help the scraper to get around request limits.
The web scraping solution should be capable of converting the unstructured data stored in HTML files to a structured format that can be analyzed. In addition, it should be capable of adapting this capability to the unique attributes of a webpage.
Dynamic Browser Fingerprinting
The service provider’s infrastructure should be capable of generating unique browser fingerprints. This enables the scraper API to seamlessly send tens of requests for data from the same website without encountering CAPTCHA codes or its IP addresses getting blocked. This is because fingerprints denote different visitors.
A provider should offer documentation that enables consumers to initiate communication with the API.
The scraper API should automatically re-initiate requests if previous ones fail.
Support for Multiple Programming Languages
A good scraper API supports communication with scripts or applications written using multiple programming languages.
Tips and Tricks on Using Scraper APIs
If you have just started using the scraper API or want to learn more about it before you can try it out, these tips may prove useful:
- The scraper API will only extract data from the URLs you provide – this is unless you include a web crawler add-on
- If you want the scraper API to discover new webpages, integrate it with a web crawler, if available
- Raw HTML data is unappealing, as you cannot make sense of it at a glance; instead, structured data is preferred
- For seamless integration with your application, use the documentation provided by the service provider
- The scraper API eliminates the need to maintain and script scrapers and parsers – the service provider handles all the technical tasks
- Choose the appropriate scraper API for your web scraping task: There are different types of scraper APIs optimized for different tasks. Examples include SERP scraper APIs, real estate scraper APIs, e-commerce scraper APIs, and web scraper APIs
- You should first open an account with the service provider to start using the solution
Uses of Scraper API
The scraper API is used in the following ways:
- SEO monitoring, e.g., keyword research
- Competitor analysis and monitoring, i.e., market research
- Brand and reputation monitoring
- Travel far monitoring
- Website change monitoring
- Real estate monitoring, with the extracted data helping in price optimization, identification of new investment opportunities, and enabling you to stay on top of real estate market trends
- Price monitoring
- Review monitoring
- Product monitoring
A scraper API is a useful web scraping solution. It eliminates the need to create and maintain a web scraper.
Instead, the data extraction and the technologies that facilitate this process are developed and maintained by a service provider, freeing up time and resources.
A scraper API is used in many ways, including SEO monitoring, market research, reputation monitoring, and more.
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