Web scraping is getting even hotter than it already was, now that the whole world knows that the various AIs and LLMs out there were trained by ingesting scraped data. And in 2023 there are some very solid choices for web scraping APIs.
Let’s look at just 10 of the best to help you decide which is right for you.
Top 10 web scraping APIs you should try right now
We’ll put our own product first because we believe it’s the best web scraping API you can use to extract website data in 2023. Try it out and we think you’ll agree 😄
The Apify API facilitates scalable and efficient data extraction and management, streamlining the process of collecting information from websites and improving data reliability. It also provides access to a huge library of pre-built scrapers (called Apify Actors). Each Apify Actor is effectively a web scraping API that targets popular websites. They can be used with the default settings or as a starting point for custom scraping projects. Apify Store currently offers 1,200+ different scraping tools.
The Apify API is designed to handle large volumes of data and a vast numbers of web pages without issues. The data can be stored and exported in different formats, such as Excel, CSV, JSON, and XML. It also includes utilities to allow developers to schedule, monitor, and manage long-running scraping jobs. Apify Proxy is completely integrated into the platform and runs seamlessly in the background for most scraping tasks. Apify was designed by devs for devs, so you can fetch from a repository, push code from your local computer, or use our online code editor.
- Extensive library of ready-to-use scrapers: Apify Store offers a variety of free and paid pre-built scraping solutions, that can be easily utilized to scrape data from popular websites without writing custom code.
- Full-featured cloud-based infrastructure: Apify users can enjoy the convenience of a cloud hosting infrastructure that eliminates the need for separate hosting solutions. This allows for easy storage, management, and sharing of software written in any programming language. In addition, Apify provides a comprehensive set of features for scheduling data extraction tasks and monitoring performance, ensuring a seamless and efficient web scraping experience.
- Pricing options: Apify provides a range of pricing plans, catering to different needs and project sizes. This includes a generous free tier, as well as various subscription options, making it well-suited for both small and large-scale web scraping projects. Apify also supports the use of web scraping education with a special discount for universities and researchers.
- Community: Apify has a large developer community active on Discord, which makes it easier for users to find solutions to their problems and connect with other like-minded web scraping enthusiasts.
- Unlimited free plan: Apify follows a freemium model, granting users immediate access to all its features, such as proxies and task scheduling. The only restriction is that free users are limited to a maximum monthly credit usage of $5.
- Multiple data formats: Apify supports various data formats, allowing users to obtain the extracted data in formats like JSON, CSV, or HTML, making it versatile for different data processing needs.
- Integrations: Apify offers an impressive range of pre-built external integrations, giving users access to a vast selection of services like Gmail, Google Drive, Make, Zapier, and more. By utilizing the Apify API and running scrapers on their platform, users can leverage these integrations for enhanced functionality and productivity.
- Learning curve: while the Apify API offers comprehensive functionality, it may have a steeper learning curve for users who are new to web scraping or API integrations.
- Data quality control: As Apify allows users to define their own scraping tasks, the responsibility for ensuring data quality and accuracy rests on the user, which may require additional effort and expertise. However, it's worth noting that Apify also offers fully-managed enterprise solutions where the responsibility for ensuring data quality is taken care of by Apify itself.
Oxylabs takes a different approach from Apify in that they have several specific APIs for scraping different categories, such as SERP Scraper API for search engine results pages, E-Commerce Scraper API, Real Estate Scraper API, and the more generic Web Scraper API. Oxylabs has a pretty good proxy service and in recent years they have been increasingly focused on their proxies.
- Vast proxy network: Oxylabs has an extensive proxy network, offering a wide range of IP addresses from different locations.
- Feature set: the Oxylabs API offers various useful features such as rotating proxies, session persistence, geotargeting, and CAPTCHA solving.
- Data quality and accuracy: Oxylabs places a strong emphasis on data quality, ensuring that the information extracted from websites is reliable and accurate.
- Cost: the Oxylabs API tends to be more expensive compared to some other web scraping solutions, which may be a factor for users with budget constraints.
- Limited flexibility: the Oxylabs API imposes limitations on customizing scraping jobs according to specific user requirements. This lack of flexibility can be inconvenient for experienced users who prefer greater control over customizing their scraping tasks.
- Limited free tier: the free pricing option offered by Oxylabs API comes with very restrictive usage limitations, and users may find it necessary to upgrade to a paid plan for more extensive web scraping requirements.
ScrapingBee’s API handles rotating proxies, data extraction, headless browsers, and solving CAPTCHAS. ScrapingBee has a Stealth Proxy in beta that includes a new pool of proxies that the company claims should be enough to scrape even the hardest-to-scrape websites.
- Easy to Use: ScrapingBee’s API is known for its simplicity and user-friendly interface, making it easy for developers with varying levels of web scraping expertise to use it.
- CAPTCHA Handling: ScrapingBee offers built-in CAPTCHA handling, automating the process of solving CAPTCHAs encountered during scraping.
- IP Rotation: the API provides automatic IP rotation, ensuring a higher level of anonymity and reducing the risk of IP blocking or detection.
- Pricing options: ScrapingBee provides a range of pricing plans, including a generous free tier and affordable packages, making it a cost-effective choice.
- Proxy network limitations: ScrapingBee’s API relies on a shared proxy network, which may have limitations in terms of IP availability and potential IP blocking issues.
- Limited customization: while ScrapingBee’s API is easy to use, it may have limited flexibility for customizing scraping tasks, which may be a drawback for more advanced users with specific requirements.
- Data quality control: as with other web scraping services, the responsibility for ensuring data quality and accuracy lies with the user, which may require additional effort and expertise.
- Limited features: ScrapingBee differs from other options like Apify and Zyte by not offering a cloud hosting infrastructure to complement its web scraping services. This means that users are responsible for finding their own hosting solutions. Additionally, ScrapingBee lacks some fundamental and valuable features, such as the ability to schedule web scraping jobs.
Zyte was formerly known as ScrapingHub. It prides itself on three web scraping cornerstones: reach, simplicity, and reliability. The Zyte platform heavily relies on the widely-used open-source Python web scraping framework called Scrapy. Depending on your familiarity with the framework, this can be seen as either an advantage or a disadvantage.
- Scrapy framework: Zyte provides the powerful Scrapy framework, which is widely recognized and favored by experienced web scrapers for its flexibility and advanced scraping capabilities.
- AutoExtract: Zyte offers AutoExtract, a feature that automatically extracts structured data from websites, saving time and effort in data extraction.
- Cloud-based infrastructure: Zyte provides a cloud hosting infrastructure, allowing users to conveniently store and manage their Scrapy Spiders without the need for separate hosting solutions.
- Smart proxy manager: with Zyte’s smart proxy manager, users can benefit from an automated and intelligent proxy rotation system. This feature allows for seamless and efficient handling of IP addresses, ensuring a high level of anonymity and minimizing the risk of IP blocking or detection.
- Learning curve: utilizing the Scrapy framework and advanced features of Zyte may require a steeper learning curve for users who are new to web scraping or the Scrapy ecosystem.
- Pricing: Zyte's pricing structure tends to be higher in cost compared to some other web scraping solutions, particularly for larger-scale scraping projects. Additionally, the pricing can be somewhat confusing due to different price structures for various services, potentially requiring users to contract multiple services to accomplish their goals within the platform.
- Limited free tier: the free option provided by Zyte has usage limitations, and users may need to upgrade to a paid plan for more extensive scraping needs.
6. Bright Data
Bright Data provides a range of offerings to meet the data extraction needs of businesses and individuals. These include readily available datasets scraped from popular websites, as well as a comprehensive suite of web scraping services. Their solutions enable reliable and efficient collection of structured data for various purposes such as market research and competitive analysis. Bright Data equips users with access to a vast proxy network, advanced data collection tools, and strong support, empowering them to streamline their web scraping projects effectively.
- Extensive proxy network: Bright Data boasts a vast and diverse proxy network, allowing users to scrape data from multiple locations and sources while maintaining anonymity and avoiding IP blocking.
- Scalability and speed: Bright Data's infrastructure is designed to handle high-volume scraping requirements, ensuring fast and efficient data extraction even on large-scale projects.
- Pricing: Bright Data's services are a little on the expensive side when compared to some other web scraping solutions, which may not be suitable for users with limited budgets or smaller-scale scraping needs.
- Customization limitations: while Bright Data offers powerful tools, there might be limitations in terms of customization options for highly specific scraping requirements, which could be a drawback for users working on specialized web scraping projects.
Diffbot has a range of different APIs aimed at doing different things, but the two that are most interesting for a web scraping dev are Analyze API and Extract API. These use a relatively automated process where the Diffbot Analyze API visually analyzes a web page, identifies its page-type, and determines which Diffbot extraction API (if any) is appropriate. The different page-type APIs include article API, product API, image API, and more. There’s also a custom API that is probably more interesting for developers. Don’t be put off by its point-and-click interface, as it can be used programmatically via its API.
- Automatic extraction: Diffbot utilizes AI-powered algorithms to automatically extract structured data from web pages, eliminating the need for manual parsing and reducing development time.
- Accuracy and reliability: Diffbot's advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques help ensure accurate data extraction, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies in the scraped data.
- Developer-friendly APIs: Diffbot provides developer-friendly APIs and SDKs, making it easy to integrate and automate web scraping tasks in different programming languages.
- Cost: Diffbot's services and pricing are primarily targeted towards larger teams, which could be a deterrent for solo developers or those with limited budgets or small-scale projects.
- Limited customization: while Diffbot offers powerful automated extraction capabilities, it has limitations in terms of customization options for highly specific or complex web scraping requirements.
- Potential data limitations: Diffbot provides extraction capabilities, but not all websites or data sources are supported, resulting in potential limitations on the effectiveness of scraping. Diffbot does offer a managed solutions option to address this issue, but that comes with an additional cost.
- Limited trial: Diffbot does not provide users with lifetime free plans. Instead, users are granted a two-week trial period to evaluate its services, after which they are required to pay to continue using them. This payment requirement may be a significant drawback for users with lesser scraping requirements or for devs who want to learn how to use the service.
WebScrapingAPI is heavily focused on ready-to-use web scraping APIs that target a handful of specific sites, such as Google Search Results Scraper, Amazon Product Scraper, and Twitter Scraper API. It does have a universal Web Scraper API that aims to extract HTML from any web page without getting blocked and this offers comprehensive API documentation.
WebScrapingAPI has a Web Stealth Proxy that is apparently powered by machine learning technology for optimal success rates in bypassing anti-bot systems.
- Simplified web scraping: WebScrapingAPI provides a simple and straightforward solution for web scraping by handling the complexities of fetching and parsing web data, saving developers time and effort.
- High scalability: WebScrapingAPI offers high scalability, allowing developers to handle large-scale web scraping tasks efficiently and without worrying about infrastructure limitations.
- Quick integration: WebScrapingAPI provides easy integration through well-documented APIs, enabling developers to seamlessly incorporate web scraping functionalities into their applications.
- Proxy support: WebScrapingAPI offers built-in proxy support, allowing developers to manage and rotate IP addresses, ensuring better anonymity and avoiding IP blocking.
- Reliance on third-party service: with WebScrapingAPI, users are dependent on the availability and reliability of the service, which may pose a risk if there are service interruptions or limitations.
- Data privacy and security: as WebScrapingAPI processes data externally, there may be concerns regarding data privacy and security, especially when handling sensitive or confidential information.
- Pricing structure: while WebScrapingAPI offers a limited free trial, more extensive scraping needs may require upgrading to a paid plan, which could be a consideration for users with limited budgets or larger-scale projects.
- Customization limitations: WebScrapingAPI has some limitations in terms of customization options for highly specific or complex scraping requirements, as it focuses on providing a simplified web scraping solution.
ZenRows API also provides proxy integration, which enhances anonymity and facilitates efficient IP management while conducting web scraping. It is worth mentioning that ZenRows API shares several similarities, including features and drawbacks, with the ScrapingBee API. However, one notable difference lies in their pricing structures, with ScrapingBee being more accommodating for developers with smaller scraping requirements.
- Structured data extraction: Developers can easily retrieve structured data from various sources using ZenRows API, and receive it in formats like JSON or CSV, ensuring compatibility with data processing workflows.
- Proxy integration: ZenRows API supports proxy integration, providing better anonymity and IP management capabilities during the scraping process.
- Pricing: ZenRows API's pricing structure may not be suitable for all budgets, especially for developers with limited resources or small-scale projects.
- Customization limitations: While ZenRows API provides a comprehensive set of features, there may be limitations in terms of customization options for highly specific or complex scraping requirements.
- Limited infrastructure: Similar to ScrapingBee, ZenRows does not offer a cloud hosting infrastructure to complement its web scraping services. This means developers need to manage their own hosting solutions.
- CAPTCHA handling: ScrapingAnt offers automated CAPTCHA handling, saving valuable time and effort by streamlining the process of solving CAPTCHAs encountered during scraping.
- Proxy integration: ScrapingAnt API supports proxy integration, providing better anonymity and IP management capabilities during the scraping process.
- Customization limitations: ScrapingAnt API has limitations in terms of customization options for highly specific or complex scraping requirements.
- Limited infrastructure: ScrapingAnt does not provide a cloud hosting infrastructure. As a result, developers are responsible for managing their own hosting solutions.
So that’s our line-up of some of the best web scraping APIs out there today. We still like Apify best, but we have to concede that we have some good competitors out there. Let the best API win! 😎
Web scraping API FAQ
What is a web scraping API?
Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites. A web scraping API is a tool that enables developers to extract data from websites by automating the process of sending requests, parsing HTML content, and returning structured data. It provides a programmatic interface for accessing web content and extracting information that can then be used for other purposes.
What’s the difference between normal web scraping and using a web scraping API?
Your run-of-the-mill web scraping activity involves writing custom scripts to send requests, parse HTML, and extract data. Pretty straightforward, but it’s time-consuming and prone to errors, particularly when dealing with large volumes of data or dynamic websites. Web scraping APIs encapsulate these processes into a single, standardized service, allowing the user to focus on getting the right data rather than the mechanics of scraping.
Is it legal to use a web scraping API?
Web scraping, including the use of a web scraping API, is generally legal if the data being scraped is publicly available on the internet. However, scraping personal data, intellectual property, or confidential data may breach various regulations, especially if not handled in accordance with privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
What are some of the benefits of using a web scraping API?
- Scalability. Web scraping APIs are designed to handle large volumes of requests and data extraction efficiently. As your data needs grow, web scraping APIs can easily scale to meet increased demand without requiring you to make changes to your codebase or infrastructure.
- Reliability. API providers often monitor and update their services to ensure consistent data extraction, even when target websites change their structure. This means that you can trust the web scraping API to deliver accurate and up-to-date data, minimizing disruptions to your workflows. Web scraping APIs also often include built-in error handling and retries, ensuring improved data accuracy and integrity.
- Efficiency. With web scraping APIs, you don't need to spend time building and maintaining custom scrapers. This reduces the overall time and cost associated with data extraction projects. Additionally, web scraping APIs can help you avoid the costs associated with maintaining server infrastructure, handling proxies, and dealing with IP blocking issues.
- Ease of use and customization. Web scraping APIs typically offer user-friendly interfaces, customizable query parameters, and various output options, allowing you to tailor the data extraction process to your specific needs. This flexibility enables you to extract data from a wide range of websites and formats, making it easier to integrate the extracted data into your existing systems and workflows.
- Enhanced speed and performance. Web scraping APIs can optimize the data extraction process by utilizing advanced technologies like parallel processing, caching, and high-performance computing resources. This results in faster data retrieval and processing, helping you make data-driven decisions more quickly and efficiently.
- Improved maintenance and support. If a company is investing time into maintaining a web scraping API, you automatically benefit from this investment and you can rely on the API provider to resolve any issues or answer questions, rather than having to troubleshoot problems on your own.
- Compliance with ethical scraping guidelines. Web scraping APIs often include features like rate limiting, user agent rotation, and respecting website rules. This can help you engage in ethical web scraping and avoid potential legal issues.
What should you look for in a good web scraping API?
- Customizable query parameters and filters Most web scraping APIs should allow you to fine-tune your requests by specifying query parameters and filter. This enables targeted data extraction and helps reduce the amount of post-processing required.
- Pagination and result limits Efficient handling of pagination and result limits is essential in a web scraping API. It should be able to navigate through paginated results without issues and provide options for setting result limits to prevent unnecessary and costly data retrieval.
- Data formats and output options A good web scraping API should offer a variety of data formats (e.g., CSV, JSON, XML, Excel) and output options (e.g., file download, API response) to make it easy to integrate with existing systems and workflows.
- Proxy management and IP rotation It’s a fact of web scraping life that some websites don’t want to be scraped, so they use sophisticated blocking methods. To mitigate these and avoid getting blocked, a web scraping API should have built-in smart proxy management and IP rotation features.
- Error handling and retries Robust error handling and retry mechanisms are vital for keeping scraped data accurate and reliable. The API should be able to recover from common errors like timeouts, 403 errors, server issues, or rate limiting, and automatically retry requests.
- Authentication and authorization If you need to extract data from websites requiring authentication, a web scraping API should provide options for handling various authentication methods, such as API keys, OAuth, or cookies. This one is a bit controversial, as logging in with credentials can mean accepting terms and conditions. If the data is available publicly, that’s always the best option.