Shubham Singh — Updated On May 10th, 2020
Classification Deep Learning Intermediate Machine Learning Project Python Supervised Text Unstructured Data

This article was submitted as part of Analytics Vidhya’s Internship Challenge.


I’m an avid YouTube user. The sheer amount of content I can watch on a single platform is staggering. In fact, a lot of my data science learning has happened through YouTube videos!

So, I was browsing YouTube a few weeks ago searching for a certain category to watch. That’s when my data scientist thought process kicked in. Given my love for web scraping and machine learning, could I extract data about YouTube videos and build a model to classify them into their respective categories?

I was intrigued! This sounded like the perfect opportunity to combine my existing Python and data science knowledge with my curiosity to learn something new. And Analytics Vidhya’s internship challenge offered me the chance to pen down my learning in article form.

youtube scraping

Web scraping is a skill I feel every data science enthusiast should know. It is immensely helpful when we’re looking for data for our project or want to analyze specific data present only on a website. Keep in mind though, web scraping should not cross ethical and legal boundaries.

In this article, we’ll learn how to use web scraping to extract YouTube video data using Selenium and Python. We will then use the NLTK library to clean the data and then build a model to classify these videos based on specific categories.

You can also check out the below tutorials on web scraping using different libraries:

Note: BeautifulSoup is another library for web scraping. You can learn about this using our free course- Introduction to Web Scraping using Python.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview of Selenium
  2. Prerequisites for our Web Scraping Project
  3. Setting up the Python Environment
  4. Scraping Data from YouTube
  5. Cleaning the Scraped Data using the NLTK Library
  6. Building our Model to Classify YouTube Videos
  7. Analyzing the Results


Overview of Selenium

Selenium is a popular tool for automating browsers. It’s primarily used for testing in the industry but is also very handy for web scraping. You must have come across Selenium if you’ve worked in the IT field.

We can easily program a Python script to automate a web browser using Selenium. It gives us the freedom we need to efficiently extract the data and store it in our preferred format for future use.

Selenium requires a driver to interface with our chosen browser. Chrome, for example, requires ChromeDriver, which needs to be installed before we start scraping. The Selenium web driver speaks directly to the browser using the browser’s own engine to control it. This makes it incredibly fast.


Prerequisites for our Web Scraping Project

There are a few things we must know before jumping into web scraping:

  • Basic knowledge of HTML and CSS is a must. We need this to understand the structure of a webpage we’re about to scrape
  • Python is required to clean the data, explore it, and build models
  • Knowledge of some basic libraries like Pandas and NumPy would be the cherry on the cake


Setting up the Python Environment

Time to power up your favorite Python IDE (that’s Jupyter notebooks for me)! Let’s get our hands dirty and start coding.


Step 1: Install Python binding:

#Open terminal and type-
$ pip install selenium

Step 2: Download Chrome WebDriver:

Step 3: Move the driver file to a PATH:

Go to the downloads directory, unzip the file, and move it to usr/local/bin PATH.

$ cd Downloads
$ unzip
$ mv chromedriver /usr/local/bin/

We’re all set to begin web scraping now.


Scraping Data from YouTube

In this article, we’ll be scraping the video ID, video title, and video description of a particular category from YouTube. The categories we’ll be scraping are:

  • Travel
  • Science
  • Food
  • History
  • Manufacturing
  • Art & Dance  

So let’s begin!

  • First, let’s import some libraries:
  • Before we do anything else, open YouTube in your browser. Type in the category you want to search videos for and set the filter to “videos”. This will display only the videos related to your search. Copy the URL after doing this.   
  • Next, we need to set up the driver to fetch the content of the URL from YouTube:
  • Paste the link into to driver.get(“ Your Link Here ”) function and run the cell. This will open a new browser window for that link. We will do all the following tasks in this browser window
  • Fetch all the video links present on that particular page. We will create a “list” to store those links
  • Now, go to the browser window, right-click on the page, and select ‘inspect element’
  • Search for the anchor tag with id = ”video-title” and then right-click on it -> Copy -> XPath. The XPath should look something like : //*[@id=”video-title”]

With me so far? Now, write the below code to start fetching the links from the page and run the cell. This should fetch all the links present on the web page and store it in a list.

Note: Traverse all the way down to load all the videos on that page.

The above code will fetch the “href” attribute of the anchor tag we searched for.

Now, we need to create a dataframe with 4 columns – “link”, “title”, “description”, and “category”. We will store the details of videos for different categories in these columns:

We are all set to scrape the video details from YouTube. Here’s the Python code to do it:

Let’s breakdown this code block to understand what we just did:

  • “wait” will ignore instances of NotFoundException that are encountered (thrown) by default in the ‘until’ condition. It will immediately propagate all others
  • Parameters:
    • driver: The WebDriver instance to pass to the expected conditions
    • timeOutInSeconds: The timeout in seconds when an expectation is called
  • v_category stores the video category name we searched for earlier
  • The “for” loop is applied on the list of links we created above
  • driver.get(x) traverses through all the links one-by-one and opens them in the browser to fetch the details
  • v_id stores the stripped video ID from the link
  • v_title stores the video title fetched by using the CSS path
  • Similarly, v_description stores the video description by using the CSS path

During each iteration, our code saves the extracted data inside the dataframe we created earlier.

We have to follow the aforementioned steps for the remaining five categories. We should have six different dataframes once we are done with this. Now, it’s time to merge them together into a single dataframe:

Voila! We have our final dataframe containing all the desired details of a video from all the categories mentioned above.


Cleaning the Scraped Data using the NLTK Library

In this section, we’ll use the popular NLTK library to clean the data present in the “title” and “description” columns. NLP enthusiasts will love this section!

Before we start cleaning the data, we need to store all the columns separately so that we can perform different operations quickly and easily:

Import the required libraries first:

Now, create a list in which we can store our cleaned data. We will store this data in a dataframe later. Write the following code to create a list and do some data cleaning on the “title” column from df_title:

Did you see what we did here? We removed all the punctuation from the titles and only kept the English root words. After all these iterations, we are ready with our list full of data.

We need to follow the same steps to clean the “description” column from df_description:

Note: The range is selected as per the rows in our dataset.

Now, convert these lists into dataframes:

Next, we need to label encode the categories. The “LabelEncoder()” function encodes labels with a value between 0 and n_classes – 1 where n is the number of distinct labels.

Here, we have applied label encoding on df_category and stored the result into dfcategoryWe can store our cleaned and encoded data in into a new dataframe:

We’re not quite all the way done with our cleaning and transformation part.

We should create a bag-of-words so that our model can understand the keywords from that bag to classify videos accordingly. Here’s the code to do create a bag-of-words:

Note: Here, we created 1500 features from data stored in the lists – corpus and corpus1. “X” stores all the features and “y” stores our encoded data.

We are all set for the most anticipated part of a data scientist’s role – model building!


Building our Model to Classify YouTube Videos

Before we build our model, we need to divide the data into training set and test set:

  • Training set: A subset of the data to train our model
  • Test set: Contains the remaining data to test the trained model

Make sure that your test set meets the following two conditions:

  • Large enough to yield statistically meaningful results
  • Representative of the dataset as a whole. In other words, don’t pick a test set with different characteristics than the training set

We can use the following code to split the data:

Time to train the model! We will use the random forest algorithm here. So let’s go ahead and train the model using the RandomForestClassifier() function:


  • n_estimators: The number of trees in the forest
  • criterion: The function to measure the quality of a split. Supported criteria are “gini” for Gini impurity and “entropy” for information gain

Note: These parameters are tree-specific.

We can now check the performance of our model on the test set:

We get an impressive 96.05% accuracy. Our entire process went pretty smoothly! But we’re not done yet – we need to analyze our results as well to fully understand what we achieved.


Analyzing the Results

Let’s check the classification report:

The result will give the following attributes:

  • Precision is the ratio of correctly predicted positive observations to the total predicted positive observations. Precision = TP/TP+FP
  • Recall is the ratio of correctly predicted positive observations to all the observations in the actual class. Recall = TP/TP+FN
  • F1 Score is the weighted average of Precision and Recall. Therefore, this score takes both false positives and false negatives into account. F1 Score = 2*(Recall * Precision) / (Recall + Precision)

We can check our results by creating a confusion matrix as well:

The confusion matrix will be a 6×6 matrix since we have six classes in our dataset.


End Notes

I’ve always wanted to combine my interest in scraping and extracting data with NLP and machine learning. So I loved immersing myself in this project and penning down my approach.

In this article, we just witnessed Selenium’s potential as a web scraping tool. All the code used in this article is random forest algorithm Congratulations on successfully scraping and creating a dataset to classify videos!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on this article.

Note: BeautifulSoup is another library for web scraping. You can learn about this using our free course- Introduction to Web Scraping using Python.

30 thoughts on "Data Science Project: Scraping YouTube Data using Python and Selenium to Classify Videos"

Ranbeer says: May 20, 2019 at 10:38 am
Thanks Shubham. Pretty methodical approach. I wish you could have show output at each step. That way it's easier to follow along and see how the output changes in each step. Do you have the Juptyer notebook somewhere? Reply
Mohit says: May 21, 2019 at 9:00 am
Is it legal to scrap data for analysis...academic purposes Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: May 22, 2019 at 12:27 am
Hi, Thank you for your feedback and suggestion. I'll try to keep outputs hand in my future posts. You can also go through the notebook in my GitHub ( Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: May 22, 2019 at 12:35 am
It depends on the policy of the website you want to scrap data from. It's not clearly legal. If the policies allow you to scrap data for academic or research purpose, sure it's legal. Reply
Ayushi Dhingra
Ayushi Dhingra says: May 22, 2019 at 1:00 am
It is really quite difficult to find such detailed information about any new or still-going-on technology. Brilliant article for beginners like me. Reply
Sandeep krishna
Sandeep krishna says: May 23, 2019 at 10:51 am
Actually, I get only top 20 results from youtube while scraping..Is there any solution to get all the results for the search query..? Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: May 23, 2019 at 11:32 am
Thank You, it's good to know that my content helped you somehow. Reply
Sagar says: May 28, 2019 at 9:20 am
Hi Shubham, In below loop, driver.get function requires URL but as we are using link element x, it is giving me error and asking for URL. did it gave the same error to your code. please explain. for x in links: driver.get(x) v_id = x.strip('') v_title = wait.until(EC.presence_of_element_located( (By.CSS_SELECTOR,"h1.title yt-formatted-string"))).text v_description = wait.until(EC.presence_of_element_located( (By.CSS_SELECTOR,"div#description yt-formatted-string"))).text df.loc[len(df)] = [v_id, v_title, v_description, v_category] Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: May 28, 2019 at 10:32 am
Hi Sandeep, To fetch all the videos, you need to scroll all the way down in your new window till the last point. After that you may continue further. Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: May 28, 2019 at 11:23 am
Hi Sagar, The x element is fetching the URLs from the list link, and that's how we are passing a URL in driver.get(x). In my case, it went smoothly without any error. Please check if your chrome driver is properly installed or not. Reply
Shivani Parab
Shivani Parab says: May 30, 2019 at 4:05 pm
Issue : This error occurs when we encounter a playlist of videos between individual videos, due to this we are not able to fetch links, instead it fetches 'None' Solution : Not sure if this is the perfect solution @SAGAR, but you can run the code multiple times till you get rid of the playlist. Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: May 30, 2019 at 4:20 pm
In order to get rid of the playlists, set the filter to "videos". This will give you only video results. Reply
Sagar Dhakad
Sagar Dhakad says: May 31, 2019 at 1:13 am
Thanks Shivani, you are right.I have worked it out by selecting the particular category videos. I have successfully completed this project. Reply
Shivani Parab
Shivani Parab says: May 31, 2019 at 10:58 am
Perfect ! Thanks ! Reply
Achal Mukaty
Achal Mukaty says: June 02, 2019 at 3:50 pm
WebDriverException : Message : chrome not reachable What to do now? Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: June 02, 2019 at 10:25 pm
Hi Achal Thanks for reaching out. I'd like to mention that you have to install chrome web driver externally along with chrome browser. Reply
Rahul Sharma
Rahul Sharma says: June 03, 2019 at 6:45 pm
Hi, very well-explained article. Why we have not used beautifulSoup for scraping data instead of selenium. Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: June 03, 2019 at 10:15 pm
Hi Rahul, Thank you. And we've used selenium as it works well with websites which are heavy on java scripts and its better for beginners. And its also a less used concept for web scraping That's why. :) Reply
Daniel says: June 07, 2019 at 6:25 pm
Awesome work and lots of knowledge to obtain from this tutorial. Thank you soo much Reply
Rudransh says: June 11, 2019 at 1:18 pm
Is it fine if I use your pre-processing ideas and code for testing it with RNNs to see how it works? BTW thanks for such a nice blog. Keep up the good work. Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: June 11, 2019 at 1:24 pm
Thanks Daniel Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: June 11, 2019 at 2:22 pm
Hi Rudransh No issues, you can use my code. Don't forget to tell me about the result :) Reply
Nameer says: June 21, 2019 at 2:23 pm
wait = WebDriverWait(driver, 10) v_category = "travel blogs" for x in links: driver.get(x) v_id = x.strip('') v_title = wait.until(EC.presence_of_element_located((By.CSS_SELECTOR,"h1.title yt-formatted-string"))).text v_description = wait.until(EC.presence_of_element_located((By.CSS_SELECTOR,"div#description yt-formatted-string"))).text i'm getting this error. InvalidArgumentException: Message: invalid argument: 'url' must be a string (Session info: chrome=75.0.3770.100) how can we fix this? df.loc[len(df)] = [v_id, v_title, v_description, v_category] Reply
Vijay Kumar
Vijay Kumar says: June 22, 2019 at 9:04 am
When I went all the way down I found only 500-600 videos in a single category. But I wanted at least 2000 videos. How to get that much, because youtube has that much videos on a single category as far I know. Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: June 23, 2019 at 7:11 am
Hi Nameer You need to apply the filter to only "videos" and then again run the script. That'd do. Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: June 23, 2019 at 7:21 am
Hi Vijay, I agree that all the way down, there are only 500-600 videos. I managed to gather more than that by changing the keywords, like...for travel related videos, you can try "travel in India", "Exploring USA" etc. and that's how you can get much more than 500-600 videos. Reply
Liu says: July 04, 2019 at 8:53 am
Is there any way to disable infinite scrolling in youtube for scraping? Reply
Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh says: July 05, 2019 at 10:19 am
Hi Liu The thing with selenium is that it will capture only those URLs which are already loaded. To capture all the urls you have to scroll down to the end. Thus it eliminates the issue of infinite scrolling. You can capture as many urls as you want. Reply
Mansi Dhingra
Mansi Dhingra says: August 09, 2019 at 12:09 am
Hi Shubham May I know where I have to click in the browser window for the inspect element so that I can get that id="video-title" part. Reply
Parth says: September 29, 2019 at 12:59 pm
Is web scraping legal for sites like YouTube? At least for this project its legal, right? Reply

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