Beginner's guide to web scraping

How can a beginner start web scraping with Apify? Tips on planning your web scraping project and 4 ways to get started.


Web scraping extracts data from the pages of a website in a format that is suitable for spreadsheets or an API. Web scraping tools can pull large amounts of data from web pages much faster than a human being could even look at the information.

Watch this video to learn all about web scraping and its various use cases.

How do I start web scraping?

Web scraping works best if you pause and ask yourself some questions before you start coding or ordering a solution:

1. What info are you looking for?

Figure out exactly what data you want. Product details, customer reviews, news articles, or sports stats? Text, images, or videos? Knowing what you're after helps pick the right tools and approach.

2. Where is the data?

Next, find out where your data lives. Is it on one website or spread across many? Single page or multiple pages? The structure of the site and the specific URLs you need will shape your web scraping plan.

3. What will you do with the data?

Think about what you'll do with the data. Will you analyze it by hand, or feed it to a machine learning algorithm? Need it in a simple text format, or something more structured like CSV or JSON? Your end goal will shape the way you pull and organize the data.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start thinking about how you will scrape the data you want.

Web scraping with Apify

So you want to start web scraping, you know what you want to scrape, and you’ve decided to explore the ways you can start.

Apify offers 4 ways to get started with web scraping:

Build your own web scraper

You can use tools like Puppeteer or Playwright to create a scraper. Or you can use our universal web scrapers so you don't have to build your own web scraping tool from scratch. Apify also has web scraping code templates to help you quickly set up web scraping projects.

Use a ready-made tool

Apify Store has existing solutions for popular sites. This is the quickest way to get your data as the tools are already optimized for particular use cases. Our tools are designed to be easy for even those with no previous coding experience and our support team is always ready to help.

Here are some tutorials on scraping popular websites with our pre-built scrapers.

Enterprise solution

Enterprise customers can order a specialized web scraping or automation solution at any scale from dedicated Apify data experts. We will work with you all the way to project completion and can continue to provide maintenance once it is up and running.

Rely on an Apify freelancer

If your budget is limited or you just want to get help a simple web scraping project, you can delegate this job to Apify freelancers who will deliver a turn-key solution just for you.

Build your own scrapers

Now that you know the basics of how web scraping works, you might want to learn more. We’ve collected a few courses and tutorials suitable for beginners to save you time.

Courses for beginners

Our own Apify Web Scraping Academy has a very detailed course on web scraping for beginners. It's designed to take you from beginner to expert.

Udemy has a course for beginners to introduce you to web scraping in 60 minutes.

Pluralsight has a course on web scraping with Python for more experienced beginners.

Apify makes web scraping easy

David Barton
David Barton
Apifier since 2016 so learned about web scraping and automation from the experts. MSc in Computer Science from TCD. Former game designer and newspaper production manager. Now Head of Content at Apify.
Dávid Lukáč
Dávid Lukáč
Marketing coordinator at Apify. I am passionate about media studies and love looking at the world through a camera lens.

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