“Google Sheets Tutorial: Scraping Online Data Made Easy”

Finding the data you need can be challenging, but visualizing large quantities requires additional tools. Google Sheets has everything necessary to format large amounts of data into a suitable format. This article outlines three methods for scraping data from the internet and explains how each one works and when to use them. The best thing about these methods is their compatibility with Google Sheets, which allows you to scrape data from any location using only a budget Chromebook.

What is data scraping?
Data scraping involves extracting data from a website and displaying it in a human-readable output. A successful data scrape saves time by collating information scattered across one or multiple web pages and displaying it in a format that a human can quickly read. In this guide, we cover the process of scraping data from a website into Google Sheets.

When should I scrape data?
Data scraping is used as a last resort when an established data viewing method is unavailable. As the process relies on HTML and XML tags, most data from websites can be scraped with the correct formula. Data scraping is the easiest method for exporting a table on Wikipedia for easy searching and ordering (as we’ll do later in this guide).

How does data scraping work?
There are three methods for scraping data, which should be chosen based on the complexity and type of the data being scraped. These are HTML, XML, and RSS (with no Python needed). Each method involves a different formula but follows the same fundamental rules. Point the formula towards the data you want to scrape with the appropriate tags, and it scrapes the data and places it into your table. The skill is identifying the tags you need and compensating for each website’s source code.

What are tags?
If you use Google Chrome or most desktop browsers, you can view a webpage’s source code by right-clicking on the page and selecting View page source from the drop-down menu. Tags come as pairs and look like this in the source code: <li> </li> Anything placed between the tags is displayed as specified by the chosen tags. Depending on the method you use, you’ll look out for different tags.

What data can I scrape?
The short answer is pretty much anything. Scraping from tables and lists is the easiest, but you can scrape anything corresponding to a particular tag with the right know-how.

What data can I scrape with the HTML method?
The HTML method can scrape lists and tables. Check the page’s source code and search for the desired data. If it’s between <table>, <ol>, <li>, or <ul> tags, you can use this method.

What data can I scrape with the XML method?
Use the XML method if you’re scraping data that isn’t in a list or table format or want to scrape a part of a table. This method is used for scraping RSS feeds. It’s a great way to create your own tool for scraping news, job listings, or regularly updated data.

How to scrape data using Google Sheets
There are a variety of formulas to use for scraping data. For the HTML method, use =IMPORTHTML(“URL”, “element”, location). For the XML method, use =IMPORTXML(“URL”, “XPath”). To scrape RSS feeds, use =IMPORTFEED(“URL”).

This guide provides an example for each of these formulas and offers troubleshooting tips for when scraping problems arise. Remember that XPath commands aren’t an exact science, as every web page is different. Good luck with your data scraping endeavors!