How to Scrape Web Content in Seconds Even With Zero Technical Knowledge
Have you ever wished you could get your hands on the data hidden away on some website? But you didn’t know how to go about it! Or maybe you’ve tried to extract data from a website before but found the process too complicated and time-consuming. If so, then web scraping is the solution for you.
Web scraping is a process of automatically extracting data from websites using scripts. It’s an incredibly powerful way to collect content quickly and easily.
However, some significant challenges are involved if you want to scrape the web for content. First, you have to write scripts to crawl the pages and extract the required data. Second, different sites have different structures that necessitate customizing your script accordingly. Hence, I avoid the hassle of writing my own script. Instead, I prefer to use off-the-shelf products that can easily do the job but with much better efficiency.
One such web scraping product is Listly.io.
Let’s learn more about the tool and see how it solves the web scraping problem effortlessly. If you are also like me, who wants to web scrape data without the hassle of creating custom scripts, then you will love using Listly.
What is Listly.io for?
Listly is a Web Scraping Service for everyone from non-technical marketers to advanced developers. It turns web pages into an Excel spreadsheet within seconds. The extracted data is used for retail, research, big data, and other data-related works. — Listly.io
According to the FAQ page of the product, Listly.io is a web scraping service that allows users to extract data from web pages into an Excel spreadsheet very quickly and easily. It is perfect for market research, data mining, and other data-related tasks.
How to use Listly?
Recently Listly team reached out to me. They want me to try their web scraping product and provide an honest review.
Since then, I have been playing around with it and exploring the features. Based on my experience, I am amazed by the ease with which it can do most of the scraping work. Before we go into the pros and cons of the tool, let’s look at some of the product’s key features and how to use them.
Note: When you try out Listly, please ensure you log in to the portal. This will help you have your work saved for the future. Also, your data is kept private and secure only if you perform extraction post login.
1. Install the browser extension
Listly comes as a browser extension. You can follow this link and install it. When you open the link, it auto-detects your browser type and suggests the right extension for you. All you need to do is, click the red button, and you are done with the installation.
If you need further help with installation, you can follow this simple video to do it in less than a minute.
2. Scrape data from a page
I decided to scrape data from a Medium.com page for this example. This data can help me identify the trends on a topic, provide ideas for my future articles, see what other readers are thinking about the stories, etc.
The below screenshot shows my extracted results. I have changed the headings and deleted the rows that I did not want. I fetched only the top 50 articles, but the tool can keep automatically scrolling through pages and fetch as many as you want without extra effort. Listly can also automatically click on buttons to perform actions as you indicate.
The scraping process was effortless and took hardly a minute to set up and extract the data. I have done such extractions before, but it always took much more effort than Listly.io. This one-minute video lets you learn the exact steps to perform the task.
3. Augment data from a separate page
Once I extracted the above list, I wanted to know each story’s claps and comment counts. This information provides insight into how the readers receive the topic and the article. However, Medium no longer shows the claps and comments count on the topic page. Hence, I cannot scrape the data in one shot in the previous step. I need to go into each article to find these two details. You can imagine how quickly the task can become unmanageable with a long list of links to scan through.
With Listly, even this step was a breeze. It took me a minute and less than ten clicks to extract what I wanted. I opened one of the stories on Medium, went to the Listly extension in the same browser, and then clicked on the ‘LISTLY PART’ button.
The tool gave me the option to highlight the part of the page that I wanted to extract. I selected the Claps and Comments section. You can choose multiple sections of the page and scrape them in one shot.
Once I selected my desired section on the story page, Listly provided me with the ‘Run LISTLY’ option to extract the data (as shown in the below screenshot).
Next, I clicked on the ‘Run Listly’ button, and the tool opened up a new browser tab with more options to extract the data in a group. I could see the data that Listly will extract for me in the ‘Select Tab to extract’ section. I selected the tab that shows all the fields I wanted to extract and clicked on the ‘GROUP’ button on the page.
Next, I landed on the Listly page, where I can provide all the story links I want Listly to scrape their claps and comments. I copy-pasted the list of links already extracted in step 2 and clicked on the ‘Submit’ button.
Within less than a minute, I got the required claps and comments data extracted for each story and ready to export as excel.
If you need further help on the group extraction process, you can refer to this two-minute video from Listly.
4. Schedule scraping tasks — No need to be online
I like this feature a lot. If you need to perform the scraping tasks periodically, you no longer have to log in to complete them. You can simply schedule it. It takes 2 seconds to set up the tool to perform your repeated job. Not only that, but it can also automatically send you the output in an email. You can use this feature to send yourself daily, weekly or monthly reports.
To set up your schedule, go to your Databoard (from the browser extension). Choose the scraping job you want to repeat, and then click on the watch icon under the schedule column. It will bring up a page where you can select your preferred period for running the job. The tool offers a lot of options to schedule your job.
From the same scheduling page, you can choose to receive a link to the extracted report in an email. This can help you get alerts when the scraping jobs are finished.
Above are some features that I explored in the last few days. From these features, you can see how Listly can perform complex data extract in just a few clicks. The best part is that the extraction took less than one minute to complete each time. The speed and the ease of use are incredible for a tool that can work on sites with varying structures.
Here is a list of pros and cons of Listly, based on my experience. Pros:
Easy to get started: The installation process is child’s play. That breaks down a significant barrier for non-technical people to get started on the tool.
Zero technical knowledge required: The tool does not need the user to understand a webpage’s HTML, CSS, or other behind-the-scenes technical details.
Easy to use: The tool is super easy to use. The user interface is quite intuitive and provides helpful guidance at each step. I am sure even non-tech-savvy people can use the tool without any problem.
Fast performance: The use cases I tried out did not take even a minute to complete. Based on my experience, I find the processing logic of the tool to be amazingly fast.
Job scheduling: I already talked about it before. Being able to schedule the repeated tasks and getting automatic notification of the output is a big advantage.
Helpful tutorials and videos: Good software needs equally good documentation to succeed. Listly has excellent to-the-point videos that can get you started in minutes. It also provides quick example links against each option on the UI. Follow the links, and you will never feel lost while using the tool.
Manual refresh to check status: The status and result column on the Databoard does not automatically refresh if you are on the page. You have to refresh the browser to get the updated status manually. However, it does not impact the performance of the scraping. But auto-refresh of progress can be a good addition to the feature list.
Limited file format export option: Currently, you can export your extracted data into an excel sheet or Google sheet. No other file format is supported by default from the tool’s UI.
No field exclusion option: When you select a page section in Databoard, all fields in that area get extracted. Later you have to delete the not required columns from the excel sheet. It will be convenient if the UI allows selecting targetted fields across the section or page. The same goes for providing the option to remove fields from the chosen area before the extraction.
I have been using Listly for the past few days and am pretty impressed with its performance. I have to say that Listly is one of the most straightforward web scraping tools I have ever used. It is highly user-friendly and requires no technical knowledge whatsoever. If you are also looking for a web scraping tool, give Listly a try and let me know your experience.
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