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Search engine toolbar guide - part 1

By David Callan

Search engines, do you use them? Of course you do! Most if not all internet users use them at some stage or another, and why not, they are very easy to use, simply go to the address of the engine be it Google.com, Alltheweb.com or any other engine and enter keywords relating to what you want to find and viola!

However many engines now provide an even easier, more direct way to access their databases through the use of small applications known as toolbars. These search engine toolbars provide extra search facilities and surfing facilities usually from within Internet Explorer but some toolbars now have Netscape alternatives lest with limited capabilities.

These extra search facilities will allow you to conduct a search from your browser without actually having to visit the search engines site itself. The toolbar will automatically bring you to the engines results page and you can take it from there. When I speak of extra surf facilities I'm mainly speaking of certain features which aid web surfing such as the Google toolbars latest feature, a pop-up ad blocker. I like most people find pop-up ads very very annoying, so this is really good feature.

These features of toolbars are very handy for the ordinary surfer, but what about us guys and gals - the webmasters that make the web happen. Do any of these so called toolbars have elements within them that will help us get more visitors, more profit and hence more success? Yes, they do.

This article is your guide to using the two main toolbars available on the net from Alexa and Google to your advantage while promoting and running your site. A note before we start, the Alexa toolbar search feature is powered by Google and not by Alexa as one might expect, Alexa simply provides extra information in such a way that webmasters will find very useful and helpful.

Alexa toolbar

Continuing with the order mentioned above I'll start with Alexa. With over 10 million downloads the Alexa toolbar is very popular with surfers. The big attraction to webmasters however of using the Alexa toolbar is its ability to provide you with information about the site which you're currently visiting.

This comes in the form of Alexa's ranking figure, which in turn comes from the information that each Alexa toolbar installed on a users machine sends back to Alexas server when the user is surfing such as the URL they are currently visiting.

Admittedly when I first downloaded the Alexa toolbar, I was confused over this ranking figure which is displayed on the center of the toolbar. The confusion stemmed from the fact that I was unsure whether a better and more popular site would have a larger ranking number representing it in the Alexa site database or indeed a smaller one. The former seemed more right initially as I presumed this was related to the number of page views Alexa users had given a particular site over a certain time span, so the bigger the better.

However in my quest for the truth I hit Google and Yahoo to search for a definitive guide on Alexas toolbar, while scanning the results on Yahoo I noticed that its Alexa ranking figure was one, intrigued I continued to the Google.com site where I seen a ranking of five. I knew that these two sites where immensely popular so obviously the lower the figure the better. The figure relates to a sites popularity with Alexa users. Yahoo's figure meant that it was currently the most popular internet destination with Alexa users and hence Google was currently the fifth most popular site with Alexa users.

This provides webmasters with a great insight to the popularity of a website, which can be used to determine sites that are worthwhile link exchange partners or worthwhile to spend your advertising dollars on.

If you've read my articles on reciprocal linking you will remember me saying that it's better to 'link up' with a more popular site rather than 'link down' with a less popular site. Alexa can help you to always 'link up', simply visit your own site and check your ranking and then search for sites related to yours but with a better ranking.

Using Alexa over the Google toolbar pagerank feature to locate good link partners has the advantage of not being search engine based. That is Alexa provides a ranking based on the popularity of a site based on actual visits and not incoming links like the pagerank system is based. I prefer to use Alexa myself because I know the benefits of the free long term traffic that can come from reciprocal links alone, discarding the fact that they can help your ranking on Google and other engines.

Other tools included on the Alexa toolbar include the ability to view contact information for a site so you can contact them directly for a link exchange proposal and backwards links pointing to a site, so you can see who your competitors exchange links with and hence ask them to exchange with your site too. The Alexa toolbar is available free of charge from www.alexa.com. Currently however no Netscape or Opera versions are available.

Continue to Search engine toolbar guide - part 2

About the author
Article by David Callan. David is an Internet marketing professional and webmaster of http://www.akamarketing.com/webmaster-forums/. Visit his webmaster forums for the latest discussions on search engines, website authoring and Internet marketing related issues and topics.

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