What are Browser Toolbars?
Browser toolbars are downloads, that are available as add-ons, to your current internet browser. Each offers a search box, to enter your chosen search terms. Pop-up advertisement blockers appear to be standard equipment on every toolbar.
One thing to always watch for, when selecting an internet toolbar, is whether it’s compatible with your current browser of preference. Not all toolbars work on all of the most commonly used internet browsers.
The three most popularly used browser toolbars are available from Google, Alexa, and Yahoo. We’ll examine the special features of each one, in turn.
Probably the best known toolbar in the search engine optimization community is the widely downloaded and used Google Toolbar. Because the user is able to see the Google PageRank, of any web pages visited, the toolbar is almost standard SEO equipment.
Along with the Google displayed backlinks for any web page, the search engine optimizer and the regular user alike, are able to view PageRank 4 or higher backlinks for every page at a glance.
The Google Toolbar also works as a pop-up ad blocker, for those who prefer their website viewing to not be interrupted by intrusive advertisements. The pop-up blocker prevents a new window from opening automatically. The blocker lets you view a web page without interference from a new page.
A popular feature of the Google pop-up blocker, is the count of automatically opened windows, that were stopped by the software. The counter is easily reset to zero, and can be disabled entirely. The pop-up blocking feature is only available for Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher browsers.
The Toolbar is first and foremost, an internet search tool, that utilizes the Google search engine. Along with a built-in search box, for entering your keywords, Google offers a drop down menu that enables searches of other Google sites. These include the Google home page, Google links, various options, a browser history eraser, and a Help advisor.
The Google links section includes Advanced Search features, the Google Directory, Google indexed photographic images, and the listings in Froogle.
Website optimizers are able to highlight the desired search terms on a page, to check for keyword density, and examine a page’s keyword positioning. You can also search the pages within a website, and link a weblog (blog) to any page you are viewing.
An automatic form completion editor, called AutoFill, is part of the Toolbar package. For the many forms you may have to complete as you register at various web sites, the completion tool enables you to enter the information with a single mouse click. The personal information, to complete the various online forms, is stored in your own computer. Your credit card numbers are encrypted and password protected. They are never sent to Google.
To fill in any internet form, simply click the AutoFill button on the Toolbar, and your information is automatically entered for you. AutoFill is currently only available in English.
The toolbar layout is also customizable to your own needs and specifications. The Toolbar, for example, enables the user to restrict searches to only specified countries. The languages available, for the toolbar, include English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Chinese (Simplified), and Chinese (Traditional). Google promises more languages will be available in the future.
At the present time, there is no Mac compatible Google Toolbar.
Alexa offers an Internet browser toolbar that offers some unique features.
From a search engine optimization viewpoint, the primary feature is Alexa’s site statistics. As Alexa Toolbar users surf the internet, the many Toolbars installed on browsers, collect visitor data on the level of traffic received by the various sites. That site information is tabulated and is available to users of the Toolbar. Keeping track of competitor companies, and their web traffic volumes, can help a business owner assess where their business stands relative to the competition.
Alexa ranks internet sites by traffic volume. As visitor traffic flows increases, so does the Alexa traffic rating. The top ranked sites, by Alexa recorded visitor traffic, are available at http://www.alexa.com and are searchable by category.
Another handy feature is the website owner information, that is readily available. The contact information can very helpful for establishing sales and marketing relationships, sourcing suppliers, and for creating link exchange partners.
As with all installable toolbars, the Alexa Toolbar offers a search function. Powered by the Google search results, the user simply enters the required keywords into the search box provided.
As is common to all of the available browser toolbars, the Alexa Toolbar offers a pop-up blocker as well. The user is provided the option of allowing, or of preventing, the new window from opening. The pop-up blocking feature appears to have found a ready internet user demand, as all browser toolbars include one, in some form or another.
A unique feature of the Alexa Toolbar is the Wayback Machine. By clicking on the Wayback button, the user is able to see how a website appeared at different times in the past. The older appearances of websites are archived for viewing. To access the previous looks, a user simply selects a date, and the Wayback Machine provides the older archived version of the website as it appeared at that time.
Alexa’s version of Related Links enable the browser user to access sites that other visitors have visited. Because of Alexa’s extensive Toolbar generated surfing records, the similar links are recorded, to create a list of other sites of interest to the user.
You can also e-mail a web page to a friend with the Tell A Friend button. Simply fill in the recipient’s e-mail address, and Alexa sends the page, along with a detailed note of the e-mail’s origin.
Yahoo! offers a third option for an installable browser toolbar. Yahoo’s toolbar version is called the Yahoo! Companion Toolbar. It can be found at http://search.yahoo.com/new_search_tour/tour_toolbar.html, where a brief introduction to its features is available.
Yahoo! offers a search function using its own results, that are currently enhanced by results from Google. That search is scheduled to change to Yahoo!’s own search results in the very near future. For that reason, Yahoo! may provide somewhat different search results than are available, from the Google Toolbar, and from the Google powered Alexa Toolbar search boxes, as a result of the proposed changes.
Yahoo!’s search also includes information from the Yahoo Directory, and photographs from Yahoo! Images. Yahoo! News and Yellow Pages are also provided for additional data.
Using the Yahoo! preferences, you can set your results to appear in a new window and with your desired choice of number of results. You can select ten results per page or one hundred. A useful feature for families, is the Mature Content Filter that will remove adult content, from your search returns.
Searches on Yahoo! can also be customized to include or exclude any languages you choose. If you prefer, for example, only English language results will be included. Websites in other languages can be omitted from the returns entirely.
As with Google and Alexa, Yahoo! also includes a pop-up blocker, in its list of available Toolbar options.
For holders of Yahoo! e-mail accounts, sign-in access is available directly from the Toolbar itself. Simply click on the Mail button or the Sign-In button, enter your Yahoo ID and your password, and your Yahoo! mail and Yahoo! Group memberships are readily available.
Each of the available internet browser toolbars possesses some unique features. For search engine optimization specialists, the choice of toolbar or toolbars, will be based on their needs.
The Google Toolbar features the readout, in graphic format, of Google PageRank. It also makes available, the backlinks that Google is publicly displaying, for each individual web page.
The Alexa Toolbar offers website statistics and traffic rankings, compiled from its users, and their visited websites. Alexa also offers website owner and contact information for ease of enquiring about link exchanges.
Both the Google and Alexa searches use Google powered results.
The Yahoo! Companion Toolbar, by using Yahoo’s search, provides somewhat different results for your search terms. Those results will become even more different as Yahoo! phases out the currently used Google search enhancements.
All three toolbars offer a pop-up blocking feature as an available option.
The right internet browser toolbar for your needs exists. All you have to do, is match one or more to your individual requirements, and install to your internet browser.