Top 9 Free Web Crawling Tools For 2024
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Finding information online is essential for businesses and casual Internet users. Currently, there are over 200 million active websites , so categorizing them is no easy task. Website owners use web crawlers to identify technical issues and find broken links to rank as high as possible on Google SERP.
Simultaneously, search engines crawl websites to identify duplicate content and check internal and external links to place it accordingly in the search results. In this article, we’ve gathered a list of the top 9 free web crawling tools to help your website grow.
What Is a Web Crawler?
A web crawler, also called a spider, spiderbot, or search engine bot, is a software tool designed to analyze and index websites. It’s easy to compare it to a librarian who goes over thousands of books and categorizes them by name, genre, content, etc.
Similarly, a web crawling tool goes over millions of online websites and checks page titles, meta tags, and other structured data to inform search engines what the site is all about. A free web crawler allows website owners to check for SEO issues, fix them, and get more organic traffic, which is essential for emerging websites that cannot spend much money on ads and paid traffic.
Web Crawling vs. Web Scraping
Although technologically similar, web scraping and web crawling have significant differences. To put it short, web scraping refers to data extraction from one or more websites. Web scraping is widely used for business intelligence gathering, such as pricing data, user reviews, consumer sentiment , etc.
Meanwhile, search engines use web crawling to index millions and even more websites. Instead of gathering specific data, it analyzes the whole website to know what it’s all about and then ranks it accordingly. Simultaneously, web crawlers can find dead backlinks, SEO gaps, duplicate content , and similar issues that could hurt website ranking. Our blog post on web crawling vs web scraping has more insights.
Is Web Crawling Legal
Yes, web crawling is legal . Otherwise, Google or Bing could not accurately rank millions of websites. However, we must point out that there are significant legal issues regarding web crawling and web scraping. For example, hiQ labs got into a very lengthy lawsuit after scraping publicly available data on LinkedIn (Microsoft).
It’s essential to follow the national and worldwide information security, online privacy, and ethics rules. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation has clear online data gathering and storing guidelines. Similarly, in the US, the Computer Security Act must be followed. Generally, gathering personally identifiable data is prohibited without contractual and safety agreements.
Top 9 Free Web Crawling Tools
A free web crawler benefits website owners who want to rank better on search engines without spending extra on ads and other paid channels. Simultaneously, more and more businesses launch proprietary search engines that do not collect as much data as Google or have different customization options.
In both cases, a free website crawler can give an early advantage. We have analyzed 9 web crawling services regarding their simplicity, scalability, additional feature pricing , and more. Here are our top 9 free web crawling tools for 2024.
Among the best free web crawling tools is ParseHub, which is fully compatible with proxies for projects of any size.
ParseHub is an excellent free web crawling tool. Its free version lets you get 200 pages of data within an hour and allows 14-day data retention. The free plan has outstanding speed, and paid options provide good scalability according to your needs.
The Standard plan lets you crawl 10,000 pages , and the cap is removed on the most expensive Professional tier. Paid plans also include IP rotation and extend data retention up to 30 days. It’s also worth noting that this service works perfectly on macOS, so if you perform your data-gathering operations using Apple’s ecosystem products, this might be your best choice.
OctoParse is a great web-crawling tool for advanced users with a professional customer support team.
The free OctoParse version lets you run 10 tasks , but only on local devices. However, it does not limit pages per single run, enables you to crawl on any device, and exports up to 10k data rows. Like with most web scrapers, upgrading to a paid plan unlocks a full set of benefits, which you can try out using a 14-day free trial.
This tool is perfect for task automation and includes a CAPTCHA solver, preset task templates and scheduling, and API access . It is perfectly compatible with proxies to target multiple websites simultaneously or gather business intelligence privately. The Professional plan unlocks advanced API calls for speedy data sharing and an automatic data backup to the cloud for security.
Scrapy is an elaborate open-source framework to enhance web crawling with Python .
Scrapy is a free web crawling framework coded in Python and released in late 2023. It provides in-built functions to retrieve data, has good scalability options for more significant projects, and efficiently uses the device’s CPU and memory . Software developers or development enthusiasts can contribute to its open-sourced code to improve the tool or optimize it for their needs.
This tool is suited for advanced web crawling specialists but also offers quality-of-life features like customizable selectors for data extraction. Scrapy automatically optimizes the crawling speed and exports data in JSON, CSV, and XML formats . Lastly, it is built around spiders and supports Windows, Linux, macOS, and even BSD devices. We must warn you that the installation process is slightly complex and differs per operating system.
Diffbot is optimized to gather large amounts of data from multiple web sources and structure it for further analysis.
Although Diffbot does not have an unlimited free version, it has a 14-day free trial. This gives you two weeks to try it out or even complete small-to-medium projects, which can be enough for personal web crawling tasks or businesses that are yet to pick the best web crawling service.
Diffbots extracts data using datacenter or third-party proxies and supports bulk extracts for massive data gathering. It can make 25 calls per second and offers API access. We particularly like Diffbot’s ability to target unstructured data and convert it into formats applicable for further analysis. Its crawlbot is beginner-friendly and also customizable for advanced use. There’s also a Diffbot Knowledge Graph API to streamline information search on articles, which is especially easy to use.
Use one of Apify’s tools to build reliable web scrapers, like its Crawlee open-source library.
Apify is a platform to build or use automatic data extraction tools, like Crawlee. It has a free pricing tier with a $5 platform credit , which is enough to try a few services out. Here, we will use Crawlee as an example. We recommend switching to the Apify paid version whenever you feel ready to scale your operations, as this platform has more than a few tools to assist with various online data-gathering tasks.
Crawlee lets you build and customize your crawlers. It works excellently with proxies and improves them by rotating unique fingerprints for online privacy . There is an active Discord community that you can join even with a free Apify pricing tier. Additionally, Crawlee allows switching to headless browsers, automatically discards timed-out proxies, and runs on Node.js that powers millions of websites.
This huge web crawling platform has an unlimited free version and an affordable intro version to extract data without spending much.
80legs uses a straightforward pricing model with a sufficient free version. Although it supports only one crawl at a time, it lets you target 10,000 URLs per crawl , which is more than enough for most free-of-charge tasks. Furthermore, it does not limit the number of monthly crawls, so you get a genuinely free web crawling tool if you stick to only one crawl at a time.
We recommend 80legs for web crawling beginners looking for a service that’s easy to understand and deploy. More expensive pricing plans only increase the number of crawls and URLs per single crawl, so everybody gets the same benefits. 80legs claims they can crawl over 15 million European and US domains , which might not be enough for massive business projects but sufficient for small companies or personal use.
This feature-rich web crawler has one of the best customer support teams to assist with any issues promptly.
Although WebHarvy does not offer an unlimited free version, it provides a 15-day evaluation version to try the service out. It lets you scrape data from up to 2 pages and gives free updates and support. However, the WebHarvy evaluation version is somewhat limited compared to others on the list, resulting in a low position.
This tool has an excellent GUI to scrape HTML, text, Images, Emails, and URLs from chosen websites. Furthermore, its email scraping is speedy and accurate, which makes it one of the best tools for email marketing managers. The tool is beginner-friendly with affordable paid plans, and you can expect second-to-none customer support regarding any problems. The only downside is a limited free version, so pick WebHarvy only when ready to focus on web crawling tasks entirely.
Web crawling tool focused on accurate data extraction and transformation into vast datasets for research.
Dexi.io only allows users to test its primary features for a limited time. Unlike many others on the list, it caps the trial by hours, with a limit of 1.5 hours of web data extraction . But the tool still makes it to this list because it is one of the most powerful data extraction tools in the market, and 1.5 hours demonstrates its broad capabilities.
With high customization options and valuable self-help material on the website, Dexi.iois preferred for personal and business use. The Standard plan supports 1 concurrent process on Dexi.io severs 1 million pages per year. Meanwhile, the Corporate plan offers 3 concurrent processes and 3 million yearly pages . This service would be among the best free web crawlers with a longer and better free trial.
9. Screaming Frog
An excellent spiderbot oriented at SEO auditing to improve website ranking.
Screaming Frog is one of the best choices for SEO specialists and has an outstanding free version. It lets the user find broken links, discover duplicates, analyze titles and metadata, and generate XML sitemaps with a 500 URL crawl limit. However, task automation features require upgrading to a paid version, which removes the URL limit.
Screaming Frog’s paid version lets you schedule tasks, do a spelling & grammar check, and integrate with Google Analytics. Furthermore, it can find near duplicate content, compare crawls, has a page speed insight and live metrics integration, and looker studio crawl reports . In other words, the paid version is best for website owners ready to scale their operations.
Having a website is essential to remain competitive in the current technology-driven market. It is just as important for numerous personal hobbies or projects. That’s why we compiled this list of the 9 best free web crawlers to assist with the early stages of website growth. Although some services require a paid subscription and high quality residential proxies to provide the most value, we ensured they offer a sufficient free version or a good free trial.
Equally known for her brutal honesty and meticulous planning, Simona has established herself as a true professional with a keen eye for detail. Her experience in project management, social media, and SEO content marketing has helped her constantly deliver outstanding results across various projects. Simona is passionate about the intricacies of technology and cybersecurity, keeping a close eye on proxy advancements and collaborating with other businesses in the industry.Learn more about Simona Lamsodyte