Is API the Same as Web Scraping?

5 min read

There is a common confusion amongst people, mostly new or small business owners, regarding API and Web Scraping. Now, we cannot deny that both of these services are incredibly essential in this tech-driven world. They serve as the backbone of a business when it comes to their data accuracy and information aspect. In the article, we will find out what API and Web Scraping are, how they are different from each other, and how they can help businesses grow and flourish in this highly competitive world.

Web Scraping and API

Business owners tend to get confused about the best possible way for data acquisition, whether it is Web Scraping or API. Well, we all are fully aware that gathering data for marketing, pricing, strategy, etc. is essential. That is the only way you can cancel out the competition and give your business the edge it needs to expand and thrive. When companies get access to accurate and relevant data, it is easier for them to predict and gain insights into the market alterations immediately in real-time, making their position in the business world skyrocket. The losses are minimized as they can instantly respond to the changes that occur in the market. For instance, an online business needs to be fully aware of the prices, products, and services their potential competitors are providing to work on their business aspects accordingly.

Data extracting is also referred to as web crawling, data crawling, web scraping, etc.  Choosing the right method of gathering data is pivotal, but it is only natural for business owners to get confused when there is an array of options available. In the modern world, Web Scraping and API are the most common data-extracting methods. These methods allow businesses to retrieve data from different and millions of websites and webpages almost instantly. But it is still essential to know the difference between various data extraction methods. So, let us find out the difference between Web Scraping and API.

The Differences between Web Scraping and API

Application Programming Interface is commonly referred to as API, and it acts as an intermediary between various software. The main objective of API is to allow one software to refer to another quickly. Only a certain amount and type of information shared between this software API acts like the bridge connecting the query to the solution. The information transfer rules are fixed and can only be altered when a programmer changes the API software accordingly. Hence, it is essential to remember that while using API, the strict rules and regulations will only allow the business to collect specific data, and they can only access some particular data fields. 

Web Scraping, on the other hand, does not have any rules. Business owners can easily use web scraping software like Octoparse, Mozenda, ScrappingHub, etc. to extract any required information. The software is extremely user-friendly, and hence business owners do not need to bear the cost of a programmer. They automatically retrieve and make changes to the database of the business if any alterations happen online. It is perhaps, the fastest data extraction method, especially regarding frequently altering data. Many companies have adopted this data extraction method, which has transformed their data accuracy and competitiveness.

How Can Web Scraping and API Help Businesses Grow

It is a general belief that Web Scraping is better than API, yet we see various businesses use API. The reason behind this is that when a business needs a particular, specific type of data, and it fulfills its objective, they do not find the need to alter or switch to web scraping. It works well for them, but like it is always said in this aspect, what works well for one business but does not work well for the other, so you need to know and fully comprehend your business’s requirements and the data required before picking your data extraction method.  

There is an upside to using Web Scraping, and there is no doubt that there are certain incredible aspects to Web Scraping that API massively lacks. The most phenomenal one is that there is no rate limiting or restriction on data which means any data can be collected anytime to fulfill the business’s needs. Another distinctive feature of Web Scraping is that businesses can stay anonymous while extracting data from the websites. The page administration will not be able to track them while API needs registration to access a key, making it impossible to stay anonymous. Moreover, since API has rules, all data is not available, and hence the accuracy of data can be questioned. Web Scraping can easily be customized according to the business’s need, while API is not possible – this is one of the primary reasons why Web Scraping software has become so popular over the past few years. Businesses are making smart decisions using different Web Scrapping software including Octoparse etc.

A serious issue that is associated with Web Scraping is the issue of legality. API has claimed time and again that data extraction using API does not violate any rules and is legal, but this is highly arguable and incorrect. The issue of copyrights remains there when it comes to API, and hence, one can be sued for it.

To conclude with the article, we can say that the main objective and goal for both API and Web Scraping is acquiring data. As discussed, Web Scraping tends to have more advantages in accessing and extracting large amounts of data from multiple resources, significantly when altering data frequently. But at the end of the day, which data-pulling methods work well for you relies on your business and its goals. If you want to extract the same data from a specific website – API can efficiently work for you. Research properly and decide but unlock the magic of data extraction and watch your business expand, elevate, and excel.

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