Michelle’s Go-to Browser Plugins for 2013

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how-many-browsersI like to test things. Lots of things. All the time. I can honestly say that sometimes I’m surprised my browsers actually function like they’re supposed to, given the abuse I put them through when I get into testing mode. You know how your phone gets slow when you play around too long in the app store? That’s how my browser gets… but when it’s time to clean house, that’s when I figure out which add-ons are worth keeping and which get tossed out. Here are my “keepers” so far for this year.


Website Check-up

Sometimes you just have to pay a little attention to the general health and well-being of your web site but you don’t have the time for a thorough examination. I rely on these plugins to keep me informed.

WooRank

This plugin gives you quick and easy access to the WooRank web site analyzer that runs the URL through an extremely thorough SEO check that includes everything from mobile-friendliness to visitor counts to page load time. It’s available for Firefox and Chrome.

WooRank Free SEO tools

SEOquake

SEOquake has been around for a long time and continues to be a tool I rely on for an initial review of a client’s web site before I even talk about a proposal to do any work. At a glance, it will give you a summary of a page’s search engine lifespan, let you know whether the site has an xml sitemap or uses a robots.txt file, and give you a quick diagnosis of the state of on=page SEO performance indicators. I also use the heck out their keyword density tool for things like demonstrating when a page has no relevance to a paid search term that someone wants to bid on and they wonder why their CPC is so high. This add-on is available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari.

WASP

Web Analytics Solution Profiler, or WASP, has also been in my browser tool box for years. The paid version ($69/yr) is capable of finding, analyzing and alerting you to issues with over 200 different kinds of analytics tracking without any source-code examination on your part. If you understood that sentence, then you already know what a time-saver this can be. You would not believe how many times folks who are not “the web guy” or “the analytics” guy have to be the ones to tell someone that their analytics code is wrong on their web site. If you’re using WASP, you can produce filtered reports with the level of detail you need to get tracking repaired so you can get on with your job. Well, at least that’s how I use it. As far as I know, this plugin is only available for Firefox.

Social Media

In the old days, this section would be populated with things like Sharaholic or the Digg and Delicious buttons, but Social Media has moved so far beyond mere shared bookmarks that these next few “browser plugins” are actually quick access routes to utilization of actual 3rd party tools.

BufferApp

I have my ups and downs with Buffer. On the one hand, I hate when my Facebook or Twitter stream is plastered all over with links and shares because someone running the social media “campaign” finally got into an account and started using it, but I don’t like to see the spewing of links all at once and I don’t like doing that either. But let’s face it, sometimes you just you get in a grove or on a track and everything you find is awesome and you have to tell the world… so Buffer it. Buffer will queue your posts up and distribute them over time to Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and so forth, so you get a little more lifespan out of your 20 minutes of social sharing before the boss catches you. It’s an awesome tool in this regard and it solves Facebook Edgerank problems you never even knew you had… However, the “down” I have with this is the new payment structure. The free version is still there but, if you’ll excuse my French, it sucks – I set up a new account a couple of days ago, buffered ONE message and was 5 posts in the hole! That means I have to tweet out their silly sales message five times just to get space to post one more thing. Dude, what the frak?! So I went to check out the paid version… $10… a month? I may have to revise this list and rely on Hootsuite for my post scheduling. In the meantime, however, I am using Buffer for Chrome and for Firefox.

Paper.li

Like it or not, curated content is a big part of social media. While bemoaning the demise of Thoora, I found Paper.li. This handy little content aggregator not only gives you a handy way to gather RSS content feeds together by topic, but it will put the together for you in a nifty looking newspaper layout with its own URL that you can share as a stand alone content resource. Otherwise, I like to use Paper.li to set up topics to monitor for newsworthy stories. The handy Paper.li bookmarklet gives you an easy to way to drop new RRS feeds, articles, tweets or Facebook content you find into one of your “papers,” which you can share yourself later. My main use for this particular resource, however, is to keep up with an industry. I will set up Paper.li papers for topics relating to my clients’ businesses so I can better understand their business landscape, and keep tabs on the competition as well. You have to go to Paper.li and create an account to get the bookmarklet, because frankly, it’s of no use to you if you aren’t going to use the tool.

Visib.li

This is the coolest gadget on the internet if you’re into social media sharing. It’s got a sort of new name now – Shared By – but all its parts are still labeled Visib.li. Confusing. But still cool! This company provides a free “engagement bar” that you can customize to include your own social media contact info, any RSS feed, text messages you might want to include, music playlists, Amazon wish lists – very versatile. You can customize the style and color of the bar, test it out, save it and then the real fun starts. Connect the tool up to your Twitter/Facebook account(s). Once you’re all hooked up, drag their bookmarket to the bookmark bar in your browser and then go hit a website somewhere that has content you want to share. Click “Personalize w/Shared By (because they have re-branded the bookmarklet) and you are greeted with a pop up containing a link that you can post to Facebook and/or Twitter. Ok, no big deal right? But click on that link. The page you shared is magically rendered with YOUR personalized engagement bar at the top which broadcasts the message, “Shared By {insert your name here}” along with your social info, RSS, special message, play list or whatever you decided to put in the bar.

See this in action – CLICK HERE

Again, this is a bookmarklet that you’d have no use for if you were not using the tool, but if you have anything at all to do with the success of social sharing for your company, you owe it to yourself to check this tool out.

Utilities

My entire experience with browser plugins began with basic utilities designed to make certain mundane tasks easier – screen captures, color sampling, figuring out how much space something was taking up on a screen, or checking source code. most of these are self-explanatory so I’ll just list them.

For Firefox

Awesome ScreenShot
ColorZilla
Evernote Clipper
Firebug
Print Pages to PDF
View Source Chart
Voyage (more than just a browser history – you have to see this to understand)
Web Developer

For Chrome

Awesome Screenshot
Eyedropper
Evernote Clipper
Palette for Chrome
Resolution Test
Window Resizer

Screen Capture by Google


My Up and Coming Go-to Browser

Because my background is rooted in web development, I always have at least four usable browsers installed, with which to test things. Sometimes I will designate them for certain specific jobs – at one time I had icons on my desktop labeled for the entities I was logged in as when I used them: “Flock GHG” was for my band, “RockMelt MV” was for my professional social media work, Chrome was for personal use, Firefox was for my job as a Google Page Rater and nothing else, and then there was “Opera RR” (which stood for Rockett Rithmatic – an educational enhancement program that is currently in mothballs.) I dusted off Opera, removed the RR designation, and I went looking for plugins. What I found was unexpectedly broad support for this browser! I also really like the browser itself – it’s fast on a computer that’s around 6 years old. I will have to write about this later, but so far, I have to say I’m impressed.


Use the comment form below to let us know what your favorite browser plugins are.

Happy browsing!

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Michelle has worked on the Internet (sometimes, literally) since before it had pictures, learned web development in HTML before it was iterated, worked in SEO when there were 12 search engines, watched Digg become the grandfather of social media, worked as a Google page rater, and predicted today's holistic online marketing environment back when MySpace was a thing. And she makes kick-ass fajitas.

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