While Firefox had for years the upper hand on its competitors thanks to its wealth of useful third-party plugins, Google Chrome has been catching up and now, by and large, offers a similar toolbox. Chrome also tends to feels snappier so it is well worth considering adding to one's toolbox.
Chrome Applications and Extensions for the Productive Marketer
Google launched its web app store for Chrome in May 2010 to help people discover applications and customize their browser. Don't let the terminology confuse you: these are not stand-alone desktop apps, but rather web applications and browser extensions (here's a fairly technical explanation on the nuances between the two). And despite the "store" label, most of these add-ons are free.
The store lists both web apps and extensions, and to confuse things further, some "apps" are just a shortcut to a website, acting really only as a shiny bookmark icon. Fear not, though, as installing an app just takes a click, and you can easily see (and uninstall) the apps you already have installed. To do so, type chrome://extensions/ in the URL field (obviously a Chrome-only link). As long as you install browser apps from a trusted source, you should feel free to experiment.
The most useful Chrome tools for online marketers
- Analytics Helper to verify what Google Analytics UA code is loaded on a page, if any, while Tracking Code Debugger goes more in depth to troubleshoot incorrect GA code such as Custom Variables. See also: Omniture Debugger.
- Google Global allows you to see how Google search results appear in different countries, regions and cities.allows you to see how Google search results appear in different countries, regions and cities. Invaluable for people working on either multi-country campaigns or local targeting.
- Google Suggest for Google Insights for Search: faster serendipitous trend research.
- SEOMoz Mozbar: displays a wealth of search information but most useful if you have a paid account with SEOMoz.
- Woorank's SEO Report fetches a decent number of in-site and off-site SEO metrics, though it works pretty much as a good old bookmarklet would. See also: SEO SERP Workbench, SEOQuake.
- The OpenIn series: KeywordSpy, SEMRush, SpyFu, Ad Planner, Compete.
- TweetDeck comes pretty close in functionality to the Air desktop application from the same vendor. In the same vein, but slightly different: Seesmic and Hootsuite. Many people seem to try them all at some point, and eventually stick to the one they like better to handle the usual suspects among the social streams they handle: Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn… On top of which you can add Proxlet Tweet Filter.
- BTBuckets Google integration adds behavior targeting support to Google Analytics and Google Web Optimizer.
- Facebook Power Editor can't be downloaded without being logged into Facebook as per this walkthrough.
Easing teamwork: website creation, maintenance and improvement
The following tools will let you figure out more things by yourself without having to constantly ask your favorite designer/developer/webmaster/techie/teenager. This also beats the daunting View Source experience.
- Before its release for Chrome, Web Developer was probably the sole reason many people kept using Firefox despite its insatiable hunger for more memory. First released in 2010 and not updated as of June 2011, a slew of fixes are somewhat overdue. The developer is working on it but, in the meantime, even with bugs this is a very useful tool to ease the dialog with web designers and developers.
- BuiltWith profiles any website and shows what kind of analytics, ad server or content delivery network is uses, among other technical details. Great to audit your own sites or research the competition.
- Explain and Send Screenshots works on a whole page or partial screenshot that you can comment and share (with the enigmatic name, who would have thought?). Alternatively: Screen Capture, Lightshot, Awesome Screenshot.
- With CSS Reloader you can reload style sheets without reloading the whole page. Handy for these tedious finetuning sessions with your designer when you are trying to get the 12 split-test variations of your next microsite just right.
- Eye Dropper allows you to pick any color from a website and gets its RGB code.
- Resolution Test resizes your browser to common screen resolutions from 640×480 to 1920×1200.
- MeasureIt draws a ruler/overlay box to get the pixel width and height of page elements.
- View Image Info shows an image dimensions, location and file size.
- WhatFont shows font names as an overlay.
- Word Count counts words and characters in your text selection.
- Link Checker - self-described as a quick and dirty way to find broken links on a pa
- Pendule promises to do a lot of the above functions in one extension, though according to some comments not everything works yet.
- How fast is your site? Ask Speed Tracer or Yslow. Warning, website speed is complex, engage your tech team with diplomacy.
Other Useful Chrome Apps
While the following tools are not specific to online marketing and building websites, they are still useful for the kind of office work done in the profession.
- Evernote is note-taking and task management tool. Try it if you still haven't conquered PostIt-Littered-Monitor-Syndrome.
- Table Capture and Scraper make it easier to copy HTML table for use in spreadsheets.
- With iMacros you can automate repetitive browser tasks, such as filling in a landing page form that you are testing before its live release.
- Chrome Toolbox is a swiss army knife with unrelated but useful featurettes.
- Chrome to Phone is a low-friction way to send web pages to an Android device. Surprisingly there's no support for iPhones or anything else not Made in Google.
- Rapportive adds a social layer to Gmail. No, not Google Buzz - this tool connects to social applications that people actually use.
Staying in Sync Means You Don't Have To Reinstall
A compelling benefit of Google's cloud-centered approach is how easy it is to keep several computers in synch. This means that, after a once-per-computer setting change, you won't have to reinstall all your extensions on each computer you're using.
Keyboard Shortcuts Impress Colleagues, Save Time
Until the day when someone adapts Hacker Typer to fake speedtype industry-leading mocial drivel, we have to actually use our keyboards and write real words, one letter at a time. Cue in keyword shortcuts to reduce productivity loss due to moving from keyboard to mouse all the time: Windows, Mac. In all seriousness, it does add up. Mastering a few of the most common keyboard shortcuts is an easy way to feel your work is flowing faster.
Unlike IE or Firefox, Chrome blends the address bar with the usually separate search box. Besides your default search engine, you can search other sites right from the address bar.
A tweak that many search marketers like to apply is to set up a new, non-personalized Google search using this base URL:
Best used in Incognito mode while logged out of any Google service, for that extra layer of warm and fuzzy privacy.
Like all things, there are diminishing returns to browser tweaking, but the following links cover additional ground: