Is scraping legal on Google Maps? Yes, absolutely.

Sasha Bouloudnine
February 1, 2024
11 min read

Wanna scrape Google Maps data but freaked out by that kind of Google’s warning?

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In this article, we’ll see that even if Google does not like it, it is completely legal to scrape data from Google Maps.

We’ll see that:

  1. Google does not like it
  2. But it is completely legal
  3. You basically risk nothing

Endly, we’ll try to understand why Google prevents people from scraping data online.

Let’s deep dive in.

Google does not like it

Google puts explicitly that scraping is not allowed

Let’s be frank. Google explicitly discourages people from scraping data from Google Maps.

If you type, is it legal to scrape google maps, on Google itself, you will notice that many people ask the same question.

And some did ask Google directly.

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Thanks Arief, for this brave move.

What is the response of Google? cfanatic, a famous Diamond Product Expert, puts it explicitly:

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No, downloading data in bulk [is] not allowed.

But does the response of a user on a thread have any legal value? We sincerely don't know.

Let's take a look at the legal notice.

Google terms of service is clear

Google Maps terms of service%20No%20Scraping.,for%20use%20outside%20the%20Services.) are crystal clear: no scraping of any kind.

google maps terms of service no scraping - image14.png

No export, extraction or data scraping of Google Maps content. It includes notably:

  1. No outside hosting
  2. No bulk downloading
  3. No local business names saving

No is no.

Legality is not allowance

However, allowing something is not similar to being legal.

For instance, if you're a bar owner, you can choose not to allow people to wear purple clothes. Though it is not illegal to be dressed in purple.

According to the Collins English Dictionary, legal means actually permitted by the law.

legal definition american english - image26.png

Therefore, the real question is: is it permitted by the law to scrape Google Maps data? Let’s check it out.

It is allowed to advertise Google Maps scraping on Google Ads

First thing we noticed is: it is legal to advertise scraping activities on Google Ads.

You cannot advertise anything on Google Ads. Google forbids a large set of activities. Illegal activities or courses and activities considered illicit or dishonest by Google itself.

activities you cannot advertise on google ads - image16.png

However, our concerned activity is not mentioned: data scraping.

We can prove it: we bid ours on scraping keywords in the US on a day to day basis. With a substantial budget. And it’s completely tolerated by Google.

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How explain that Google authorizes the promotion of an activity not allowed in its terms of service?

Well the answer is extremely simple.

Data scraping on Google Maps is a legal activity.

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How do we know it?

LinkedIn vs. HiQ Labs: the authoritative case law

To sum it-up, LinkedIn made a formal complaint against Hiq Labs, a firm that analyzes employee turnover after having scraped LinkedIn public data.

And Linkedin did loose two times:

  1. In 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that scraping does not break the law
  2. In 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court reaffirmed its decision

linkedin vs hiqlabs lose two times - image15.png

Scraping publicly available data is thus permitted by the law. Scraping is legal.

The legality of web scraping is clear. On Google Maps as well as on any set of data publicly available online.

Period.

You basically risk nothing

Data scraping on Google Maps is not allowed by Google. However it is actively discouraged by Google.

What do you risk if you scrape Google Maps data?

Let’s deep dive in.

Google account termination

If you check the Google Terms of Services (ToS), the threat is clear.

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Google can terminate your access to the Google services. And possibly delete your account.

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Boring.

😑

However, Google Maps data is publicly available. You don’t need to be logged in to browse Google Maps business listings.

Since you are not logged in, then your account cannot be identified. And thus, your account cannot be deleted.

Simple.

IP ban

Some people are anxious about it and they are right: Google can ban your IP.

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However, usually the block is only temporary. And indeed, the interest of Google is to maximize the use of its network, and exposure to ads. And thus revenue.

Apart from isolated cases, they don’t have business incentive for permanent IPs ban.

If it’s persisting you can either use a third-party proxy provider, such as ScrapingBee.

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What if you don’t have time to code and want fast and ready-to-use structured datasets?

Try services that handle bot mitigation management on your behalf. Our powerful no-code Google Maps scraper fits perfectly in.

google maps search export lobstr - image19.png

With the free forever plan, scrape up to 150 business listings per day. With no IP ban, no code development, no headache. It’s free. Forever.

Everybody does it

Still anxious about possible consequences?

There is one last thing you need to know to be convinced. Startups, SMEs, NASDAQ top-listed companies: everybody does scrape Google.

In 2011, Bing, property of Microsoft, was accused of scraping Google Search Results at scale.

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So what? Microsoft simply denied the accusation. No prosecution, no follow-up.

End of the story.

Why does Google not allow scraping?

The entire business model of Google itself is based on web scraping.

They crawl the website at scale. Put links in a large index. And give people access to this set of indexed pages through the Google search engine.

As mentioned by cm2187 on this 2018 Hacker News thread: such an irony.

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Why does the world king scraper not allow web scraping?

🤴

We identified 3 main reasons:

  1. Limit load on servers
  2. Cut revenue loss
  3. Stay the best (monopoly)

Let’s deep dive in.

Limit load on servers

When a request is made by a web browser on Google or Google Maps, the server does send back a response. And the result is displayed on the client web browser.

In other words, there is an exchange of data between client and server.

client and server request exchange schema - image2.png

If you go to the Network tab of your Chrome browser, you can see explicitly the requests exchanged.

For instance, if you search nightclubs in San Francisco on Google Maps, you will send a demand to Google server. And Google will send back a response with your set of data.

This request exchange will take 890 milliseconds, and consume 30.5 KB.

google maps requests from network tab - image28.png

Scraping loads on the Google server and consumes time and money. It is a plain cost.

And how much does it cost?

According to this 2013 research paper from Derek Doran, web robots requests might represent between 0.65% and 3.52% of bytes transferred on the Internet.

Not critical, but not negligible additional cost.

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However, if this automated navigation earns money, why would Google stop it?

It leads us to the next point.

Cut revenue loss

First, Google provides an official Google Maps API.

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Since it provides data from Google Maps in bulk, data scraping services compete directly with Google Maps API.

For many reasons we cited here, including price and hard display limit, this API is extremely hard to use.

Disencouraging scraping on Google Maps increases official API use, and thus revenue. Less competition means more money.

However, APIs represent less than 10% of total 2022 Google revenue.

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Why all this effort for so little income?

The true reason is that when an automated request is done by a robot, there is no click on the ad. And no click on ads means no revenue.

In other words, scraping implies additional cost and no additional revenue.

Stay the best (monopoly)

1 to 3% of additional cost. And no revenue. It looks convincing, but can it really justify damaging the end-user experience?

Clicking captchas, images captchas, account banned: all of this is expensive. It reduces usual user satisfaction. And possibly overall search engine use and revenues.

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A deeper reason emerges. Google wants to prevent any new competitor from entering its market.

They don’t want people to collect the data they did collect through substantial investments. They don’t want to see competitors display a competing public information database.

Peter Thiel, CEO of Palantir, and ex-Paypal founder told it frankly at a conference at Stanford University in 2014.

Competition is for losers.

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Google wants to remain the best scrapers worldwide. They don’t want to share the market. They want large margins and a captive audience.

Business is business.

Thus, they explicitly disencourage scraping on their platform. And make it hard for people to access external solutions. Even with the most modern technological support.

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It does make sense.

FAQ

Can scraping harm a website?

Yes, web scraping can potentially harm a website if done improperly or excessively.

If too many requests are made in a short period of time, it can overload the server, causing it to slow down or crash. This can disrupt the website's normal functioning.

Please, limit the frequency and volume of requests to avoid overloading the server.

Can I get banned for scraping?

Yes, you can get banned for scraping.

As Google mentions in its Terms of Service (ToS), your account can be suspended if you scrape Google.

Less severely, your IP address can be banned temporarily. Which means that you won’t be able to access Google services for a short period of time. Usually a couple of minutes.

How can I prevent being banned while scraping?

If you use code, use a third-party proxies provider such as scrapingbee.

Or use ready-made scrapers, such as one of ours. All is available in the lobstr.io store. We take care of proxy management for you.

Why scrape Google Maps?

Business listings scraping on Google Maps is mainly used for lead generation purposes. Build a large leads list with emails and phone numbers in minutes and 10x your lead acquisition.

On top, side usages exist:

  1. Competitive analysis
  2. Research
  3. Local SEO optimizations

Yes, it is absolutely legal to send emails to business addresses collected online.

According to the CNIL, the French Data Protection agency, it is legal to contact businesses with B2B email addresses.

Data protection law in Europe is the same for all countries. If it’s legal in France, consider it legal in Europe. And considering Europe's tough stance on these issues, be sure it's legal worldwide.

However, two conditions must be met. The person you contact must:

  1. be informed that their email address will be used for prospecting
  2. be able to opt-out simply and for free

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Important remark: generic professional addresses such as contact[@]companyname.com, are contact details of legal entities. They are not subject to the principles mentioned above.

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How long can I store data scraped from Google Maps in my database?

The data must be stored for the shortest time possible.

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Personal data includes name, email address and personal phone numbers. Under European Law and GDPR, personal data cannot be kept indefinitely.

Keep it strictly for the period of time you need it.

For instance, if you use email sequences for lead generation, complete your run. And delete email addresses from your database 1 month after the date of the last email sent.

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How do I scrape Google Maps?

If you are a developer, you can build your own data scraper. Or rely on external libraries available for free on Github.

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If you don’t want to deal with time-consuming code, test our Google Maps Business Listings no-code scraper.

With the free forever plan, use this automation to scrape up to 150 business listings for free every day.

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You can extract Google Maps search results in seconds. And export real-time data extraction to Excel or CSV format.

Extract data at scale with no effort.

If you want to pull data through JSON, pick your API key, and check our API documentation.

Each dataset includes 35+ data attributes per Google place including usual business data:

  1. Place ID
  2. Business name
  3. Opening hours
  4. Description
  5. Address
  6. Coordinates ...

And contact information. Extracted both from Google Maps and from the business owner’s website, such as:

  1. Phone numbers
  2. Social Media
  3. Email addresses

Juicy!

Can I scrape Google Maps reviews?

Yes, you can scrape Google Maps reviews on automated.

Test our Google Maps Reviews no-code scraper. With up to 1500 reviews per day everyday for free. And more than 15 data attributes per review.

Exhaustive reviews data collection for an absolutely competitive price.

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