An "X-Ray" Toolbar for Web Surfers

Most web sites have an "about us" link, but sometimes you want more information. Searching is one way to get this information, but it can be a time consuming process. It's much faster to use the Alexa Toolbar, which aggregates all kinds of useful information about the site you're currently viewing, available with a simple click of a link.

The toolbar snaps unobtrusively into your browser, available when you need it but easily ignored otherwise. It offers four main types of information about the site you're viewing, and two useful search enhancements.

* Contact Info

The owner of the site is listed, together with snail mail and telephone numbers, email contact addresses, a link for maps and directions to corporate offices, and a city guide, if available.

* SiteStats

How popular is the site? Alexa uses its own methods to calculate site usage and traffic, and ranks the site's overall web popularity. The total number of sites linking to the site is also listed, giving you another measure of popularity similar to that used by Google to determine important sites. The amount of time the site has been online is also provided.

* Related Links

Want to know other sites that are similar to the one you're viewing? Related links are a great way to quickly locate similar sites without searching.

* Related Categories

Beyond related sites, related categories show where you can find hundreds of other sites in categories related to the one you're viewing.

* Search Menu

The Alexa search menu gives you direct access to a number of major web search services without leaving the page you're currently viewing. Simply type in your search term, open the search menu, select the type of search you'd like, and go.

* Archived Pages

Even if you don't need any of the other features offered by the Alexa Toolbar, the ability to search archived pages warrants downloading the tool. This feature searches the Wayback Machine, a joint venture of Alexa and the Internet Archives project (see link below for more information).

The Alexa Toolbar is an uncommonly handy gizmo for just about anyone who does a lot of searching and surfing the web. Definitely worth a look.

Alexa Toolbar
Version 6.0 of the Alexa Toolbar is a free download, available for users running Internet Explorer versions 5+.

Alexa for Non-IE Users
Use the Alexa Snapshot to access most of the same information provided in the full toolbar.

The Wayback Machine: A Web Archives Search Engine

A full review of the Wayback Machine, a phenomenal search engine that contains over 100 terabytes and 10 billion web pages archived from 1996 to the present.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

Cyber help for sale...
Rocky Mountain News Nov 19 2001 2:37PM GMT
Yahoos days as a profitable portal are over...
ZDNet Nov 19 2001 2:28PM GMT
Explorer Web searches lost without Java...
Chicago Tribune Nov 19 2001 1:29PM GMT
U.S. Aiding Broadband Despite Strong Growth...
Los Angeles Times Nov 19 2001 12:56PM GMT
BBC plans global news website...
Media Guardian Nov 19 2001 10:18AM GMT
Paying for Web Content Is a Tough Sell...
New York Times Nov 19 2001 8:54AM GMT
ICANN warned of its own vulnerabilities...
CNN Nov 18 2001 5:06PM GMT
Firms seek consensus on Net ad hits...
MSNBC Nov 17 2001 6:59PM GMT
The of Brazil...
Online Journalism Review Nov 17 2001 8:56AM GMT
Yahoo axes 400 jobs...
Guardian Unlimited Nov 16 2001 10:48AM GMT
Senate extends Internet tax ban for two years... Nov 16 2001 9:15AM GMT
XML for Not Yet Techies...
VBXML.COM Nov 16 2001 7:18AM GMT
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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.