Social media scraping has been on the rise in recent years. People have realized that large troves of information are being unintentionally left behind, all of which are easily accessible and public.
Businesses use these tools, especially LinkedIn scraping, to gather data that’s used for lead generation campaigns, research, data science, and more. LinkedIn has been in the eyesights of most as the website has the closest ties to businesses, making the data most impactful.
The advantages of scraping LinkedIn data
Any data collected can be useful, but LinkedIn has particularly valuable information. It’s not just professional profiles, but all the company data available on the platform that makes scraping so enticing. There’s valuable data such as employees, company size, business updates. It can even be divided into even smaller chunks for each profile such as previous workplaces, education history, etc.
There’s so many use cases for LinkedIn data that it’s nearly impossible to enumerate them all. However, most companies use it to collect data on competitors and look for available candidates to high-ranking positions. Some companies that have large enough data sets and scrape LinkedIn on a regular basis may use the data for investment decisions.
In short, any business that has a dedicated data department can find some use out of LinkedIn. Even if the business can’t really use it for their own purposes, the data can be sold. There’s plenty of Data-as-a-service companies out there, some of which sell exclusively LinkedIn data.
Does LinkedIn allow scraping?
Unfortunately, no. LinkedIn are in the business of collecting data and sending advertisements themselves. So, it’s not surprising that the company would forbid scraping data from its website.
LinkedIn has even taken some larger businesses to court for scraping data. They initially lost the case to HiQ Labs, but it has been recently revived for further investigation. HiQ Labs, however, is a business that has based its entire model around scraping LinkedIn data. It’s extremely unlikely that it would take smaller industry players to court.
What will happen in nearly all cases, however, is that LinkedIn can issue a ban to the person who is scraping the website. It’s simply a quick and efficient way to fix the issue as an IP ban can be difficult (for some) to circumvent.
5 Best Tools for Scraping LinkedIn Data
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $75 per month.
Octoparse is a data mining tool made for those without any coding knowledge or experience. It works on a simple point-and-click basis, allowing users to easily extract the data they need.
The application is fully capable of extracting data from nearly any website, LinkedIn included. If you want to make use of Octoparse’s services at scale, however, you’ll have to use to the cloud-based scraping solution they offer.
That will require more tech know-how to get running consistently. Yet, there’s a lot of benefits to using the cloud-based solution. First and foremost, the crawlers no longer run on your own machine, but on Octoparse's servers. That means no proxy rotation or management will be required.
Additionally, most businesses won’t have enough dedicated infrastructure to run large-scale scraping operations. Octoparse's cloud solution solves that issue entirely. Each paid plan provides access to a set amount of crawlers all of which are essentially separate servers. As such, scaling is a lot easier than any in-house scraping operation.
Pricing: 14-day free trial available. Paid plans start at $99 per month.
CaptainData is lead generation automation software. In other words, it’s a web scraping tool mostly used for social media and LinkedIn in particular.
There’s fairly little customization outside of the popular social media websites with CaptainData, but since they’re only targeting lead generation, there doesn’t have to be. Essentially, all you do is connect your LinkedIn user profile with the system and CaptainData does all the scraping for you.
Some workflow customization options are available. For example, since CaptainData allows users to manage multiple LinkedIn accounts, connection requests can be automated. Additionally, there’s some integrations and different automations (such as data extraction from LinkedIn Sales Navigator).
Outside of that, CaptainData doesn’t have much to offer for a LinkedIn scraping tool. It’s a bit unlike Octoparse in that the company is a lot more focused on sales and marketing use cases. You won’t be even seeing CaptainData as much of a data scraping tool. It’s more of a way to enrich other data sources.
In fact, their second product does exactly that. They essentially let users bypass the annoying data scraping part and go straight to enrichment. But if you’re someone looking for an actual web scraping tool that can extract information from LinkedIn, CaptainData might not be for you.
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $125 per month (quarterly billing).
ParseHub is another one of those point-and-click LinkedIn scrapers. Although we should note that ParseHub can extract data from nearly any website.
Simple and easy to use LinkedIn scrapers are hard to come by. But that’s exactly what ParseHub delivers with their browser-based graphic interface application. You can extract data from nearly any source such as the LinkedIn sales navigator with a few simple clicks.
For more serious ways to extract data, they also have a cloud-based solution, just like Octoparse. It’s again useful in cases where data extraction at scale is required. In order to make use of ParseHub’s cloud-solution, unfortunately, you’ll need to be a bit more tech-savvy than with a point-and-click extension.
Fortunately, the cloud-based ParseHub solution brings a lot of more customization and ways to scrape data. First, you’re no longer reliant on your own infrastructure, which in most cases won’t be sufficient to run large-scale scraping.
Additionally, they add functionalities such as scheduled scraping. That feature in particular comes in handy when you need consistent and reliable data for comparison purposes. As such, it’s great for scraping LinkedIn profiles and other pages that might change frequently.
All in all, ParseHub is another tool that can scrape data from a multitude of sources with plenty of customization. It’s one of the LinkedIn scrapers that can be easily scaled without fear of failure.
Pricing: Custom only.
Import.io is a company focused on web data extraction. They can extract information from a multitude of sources, including LinkedIn profiles.
Unlike some of the other participants in this list, Import.io is not only focused on prospecting and lead generation. They market themselves as a service that can extract data from any website without leaving all the hassle to you.
They have several ways of extraction available. According to them, there’s a point-and-click tool that serves basically the same purpose as many of the extensions previously mentioned. On the other hand, you can provide links such as Linkedin profile URLs in their dashboard and send commands to scrapers through that route.
Additionally, when using their dashboard, users can select relevant data to them instead of receiving the entire page. These customization options go a long way in reducing the amount of unnecessary data and speeding up the entire process.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to rate Import.io on pricing. They only offer customized pricing, which is only available after a scheduled consultation. There are no standard plans available.
While they purportedly allow scraping any source for data, including ones behind logins, industry best practices state that only publicly available data should be scraped. As mentioned in the previous sections, LinkedIn doesn’t take too kindly to people scraping data.
All in all, Import.io can be great for web scraping if you’re serious about the process right off the bat. If you want to test out the waters to see if extracting data is something that would be beneficial, there are better tools out there.
Pricing: Paid plans start at $9 per month.
Salesfinder is an automated professional data scraping tool. Instead of handing the scraping process over to you, Salesfinder extracts information from LinkedIn profiles and other sources by itself. It only delivers the data to you.
As such, Salesfinder is a great tool for those who don’t want to manage scraping at all. All of the data can be exported into several file formats for further use.
We should note that the company is a newcomer to the field. While they offer great features at low prices currently, future performance isn’t a guarantee. For now, however, the service seems great.
Additionally, they are somewhat unique as they have significantly reduced the tech-savviness required to use their services. As all the tech stuff is managed on their end, users can retrieve data from employee profiles with ease.
As such, Salesfinder is great for retrieving data from LinkedIn profiles for those who want to experiment with new tools that have less overhead. If you want to get something tried and tested, you’re much better off with some of the other choices in the list.
Proxies for LinkedIn
Before you start using some of the tools above or try to develop your own scraper for LinkedIn profiles, we’d like to warn you about the possibility of getting banned. We’ve mentioned several times that the company isn’t too kind to those who want to collect data. As such, they’ll frequently dole out bans.
The best (and, more or less, only) way to greatly reduce the likelihood of a ban is to use dedicated proxies. In particular, social media proxies. These proxies change the user’s IP address to one that is acquired from someone’s household device. Using these proxies makes it seem that a different person is connecting to LinkedIn each time.
Since LinkedIn tracks users by IP address, using these proxies is unavoidable. For example, if you were to have multiple accounts and scraped data from LinkedIn with each of them without using proxies, the company would ban all of them quickly. Your IP address would reveal that the same person is using all of those profiles.
If, however, you were to use social media proxies for each account individually, LinkedIn couldn’t ban all of them instantly. The platform would think it’s a different user each time.
Additionally, you could go an even safer route and scrape data without logging in. Changing proxies with each page would nearly guarantee block-free scraping.
As such, regardless of the route you choose to take, using social media (or residential) proxies is essential. Otherwise, your LinkedIn scraping journey will be cut short fairly quickly.
LinkedIn scraping is a tug-of-war between a platform wanting to ban users who collect data and those who want to scrape the website. If you want to make use of all the tools available for LinkedIn scraping, be sure to get reliable social media proxies. Without them all your efforts will go to waste.