Google Maps is an invaluable resource for gathering location-based data. With over 1 billion monthly active users, Google Maps contains a wealth of information on businesses, points of interest, reviews, images, and more. While Google provides an API to access some of this data, often you need to extract additional information not available through the API. This is where web scraping comes in.
In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll walk through the various techniques and tools to effectively scrape data from Google Maps. Whether you‘re looking to gather contact details, scrape reviews, extract images, or conduct geographical research, this manual will assist you in achieving your data goals.
Overview of Google Maps Scraping
Before diving into specific scraping methods, let‘s briefly go over the basics of extracting data from Google Maps.
Use locational search parameters – Google Maps is built around geographic data points. Use location names, GPS coordinates, Plus Codes or even street addresses to pinpoint data.
Scrape responsibly – Abide by Google‘s Terms of Service and respect the privacy of data subjects. Use scraped data ethically.
Consider using the API first – The Google Maps Platform provides APIs to access some data like directions, distances, places and more. The API may suit your needs before resorting to scraping.
Now let‘s explore some specific methods for extracting data from Google Maps through web scraping.
Scraping Business Listings
One of the most common scraping uses is pulling data on local businesses. For any location, you can compile listings complete with names, addresses, phone numbers, photos, and more.
Determine a location – Use a specific address, neighborhood, city, etc. Geographic coordinates also work.
Configure your scraper – Set up the extraction tool to target the location and define the data fields needed (name, address, phone, etc.)
Run the scraper – Perform the data extraction. Results can take minutes to hours depending on location size.
Export the data – Output the scraped data to JSON, CSV or another usable format.
What You Can Scrape
From each business listing, Google Maps provides a wealth of data to extract:
- Phone number
- Opening hours
- And more…
The data can power business databases, marketing leads, market analysis and other projects.
Reviews are another data goldmine on Google Maps. They provide sentiment, demographics, engagement metrics and other insights.
To extract reviews, configure your scraper to pull data from the Reviews section of each location. For each review you can compile:
- Review text
- Date posted
- Star rating
- Reviewer name and profile
- Business owner responses
The review data enables powerful consumer analysis and reputation management.
The images and photo spheres on Google Maps hold value for both consumer research and commercial usage.
To download Google Maps images in bulk:
Run a scraper to extract image URLs from listings or reviews.
Pass the dataset of URLs into an image downloader tool.
The downloader will fetch each image and compile them into a zip folder.
Images can be used to train computer vision models, analyze locations digitally, enrich business listings or derive insights.
Scraping By Category
Google Maps has over 2 million business categories ranging from "Aeronautic Equip Dealers" to "Zoos". You can leverage these granular categories to narrow down data extraction.
For example, scrape all the "Vegetarian Restaurants" in Austin, TX. Or extract every "Dog Park" in the state of Washington. Category scraping allows focused location research.
Scraping Places Without Search Terms
To extract all businesses and points of interest in a large area, you can‘t rely on keyword searches. An advanced technique is to scrape dynamically based on what places appear on the map.
Input the target location.
The scraper will load the map and extract info on each marked place.
As it scrapes, the map viewport is intelligently expanded to uncover more places.
This allows extracting regional data at scale without needing to define search parameters.
Scraping By Geolocation
Alternatively, you can scrape based solely on geographic coordinates rather than keywords or categories.
Identify latitude/longitude bounding boxes that define your target areas.
Feed the geo boxes into your configured scraper.
The scraper will visit each coordinate, load the map data and extract place information.
Geolocation scraping is useful for gathering data across countries, states, or other large regions.
Extracting Emails and Phone Numbers
Business contact details like emails and phone numbers are tremendously valuable for sales and marketing. However, Google Maps listings don‘t display this contact info.
To get emails and phones, use a multi-stage scraping process:
Scrape business listings to get website URLs.
Feed the site list into an email finder tool like the Google Maps Email Extractor.
The email extractor will visit each site and pull contact forms, About pages, and other info to extract emails and phone numbers.
This method assembles full business contact datasets from Google Maps.
Scraping Gas Prices
For market research, you may want to extract gas price data from Google Maps. The steps:
Search for "gas stations" in your locations of interest.
Enable the scraper to pull pricing information from the map pins.
Run the extraction to compile gasoline price data for analysis and monitoring.
Scraping Google Maps at Scale
Google Maps contains data on over 200 million places worldwide. To scrape data at this massive scale:
Run distributed scraping on hundreds of proxies to avoid detection and maximize throughput.
Break up locations into smaller geographical chunks so each scrape job is focused.
Stitch the data back together across scraping jobs for consolidated analysis.
With proper tools and infrastructure, you can build national or even global maps datasets.
Best Practices for Google Maps Scraping
To ensure effective, ethical data extraction from Google Maps, keep these tips in mind:
Scrape responsibly – Avoid overloading servers and comply with Google‘s guidelines.
Use proxies – Rotate different IPs to distribute requests and avoid blocks.
Analyze scrapability – Assess if target data is actually displayed publicly on Google Maps before scraping.
Combine with Google Places API – The API can supplement your scraped data with additional details.
Stay up to date – Google frequently tweaks Maps layouts and data. Adjust your scrapers to handle changes.
Powerful Tools to Scrape Google Maps
Manually scraping Google Maps through web browsers is challenging. Sophisticated tools exist to automate extraction.
Google Maps Scraper – An intelligent scraper by Apify that handles proxy rotation, browser emulation, CAPTCHAs and other complexities. Made for scale.
Octoparse – Software with a point-and-click interface for defining Google Maps scraping workflows without coding.
Beautiful Soup – A veteran Python library for web scraping and parsing HTML/XML. Can be leveraged if you‘re tech-savvy.
When extracting data from Google Maps, be sure to:
Avoid overloading Google‘s servers with an excess of requests. Start small and scale up gradually.
Understand and comply with Google‘s Terms of Service related to automatic scraping.
Consider the privacy and preferences of the businesses and people behind the data you‘re collecting.
Use scraped contact information responsibly. Don‘t spam people.
Apply scraped data only to lawful purposes that create value, insights or innovations for wider benefit.
In the United States, data available publicly without login or payment can typically be scraped. Google v. Oracle established broad rights to scrape public sites.
In the EU, Database Directive 96/9/EC allows limited extraction of public data for non-competitive uses under "fair use" doctrine.
Consult local legal counsel to understand regional laws if scraping data from Google Maps for commercial purposes.
Let the Scraping Begin!
Google Maps is ripe with opportunity for those who know how to tap into its data riches. With an array of robust tools and software at your fingertips, effective web scraping is within reach.
Now it‘s time to pinpoint the Maps data that aligns with your goals and begin extracting intelligence to drive competitive advantage, market insight or social benefit.
Remember to always scrape ethically, legally and with consideration for those behind the data. Wield these powerful web scraping techniques for good.
The world is mapped – go forth and scrape!