A web crawler, also referred to as a bot or a spider, is a program that navigates the internet by following links from one webpage to another. Its primary function is to index these pages, collect information, and store it for later retrieval. Web crawlers play a crucial role for search engines, gathering and updating the databases that back their knowledge graph daily.

While it’s possible to crawl the web by pulling static HTML responses, this method is often limited given the role linked media assets and interactive JavaScript code play in arranging data on the page. As such, most serious projects rely on headless browsers, which render each page identically to how a normal browser might. The sole exception is that headless browsers can be controlled by code, allowing for nuanced, robust crawling and data extraction strategies.

Web crawlers can be employed in various applications. They are the backbone of market research, sentiment analysis, competitor monitoring, generative AI training, and more. Rather that considering what a crawler can do, it’s more profitable to assume it can do anything a human can, and focus on how such a technology can benefit your business.

How can BrowserCat help with web crawling?

BrowserCat provides real-time, long-running connections to our fleet of headless browsers, dramatically reducing the cost and headaches associated with managing the infrastructure for web crawling projects. Instead, you can focus your efforts entirely on the rapid development of new functionality.

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