What is a scraper vs crawler?


Sandra Pique


The Difference Between a Web Crawler and a Web Scraper

Though sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably the main difference is that web crawlers usually focus on indexing the web while web scrapers extract or "scrape" data from webpages.

There is a fair bit of overlap between the web crawlers and web scrapers. Web crawlers work by browsing to a series of webpages and analyzing their contents for links to other webpages. The links to the other webpages are then followed and searched for more links. The process of following and recording these links is referred to as “crawling.” While crawling through various web pages can reveal useful information about the structure of the web, extracting data from those sites, or “web scraping”, captures the content of those pages which can then be analyzed to reveal more information about the crawled pages. Many web crawlers utilize web scraping to contextualize the pages that they have crawled.

A web scraper's main purpose is to extract data from webpages. Web scrapers often have the ability to browse to different pages and follow links. Though web scrapers can crawl to different pages their primary purpose is scraping the data on those pages, not indexing the web.

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