5 Tips for Automating Your Customer Service
Have you ever wanted to do research on a topic and didn't feel like going to a specific search engine to do it? Well, you don't have to. If you download a "search toolbar," you can actually perform research from wherever you are online and do some other pretty cool things depending on which one you may be using.
Most of the major search engines offer "free search toolbars" for download, to enhance your surfing experience and make tracking down information a snap. You need to keep in mind that most toolbars will only work in Internet Explorer 5.0 and above.
Let's review some of the most popular bars available for download:
1) Google - http://toolbar.google.com
The king of search engines, Google offers up a superb toolbar and my personal favorite. The latest version contains a pop up blocker, a mechanism to fill out online forms with one click, a way to check the page rank of any site you may be visiting and more. Since Google also bought Blogger.com, members of that free service can also post to their personal Blogs with a click on the toolbar.
2) Yahoo - http://companion.yahoo.com
With this you can bookmark your favorite websites, search the web, peruse yellow pages and get notified of new Yahoo email you may have. If you'd like to refine your searches to just images or news, you can do that or check on your favorite stock quotes. Click the included yellow marker and instantly highlight the search words on any web page you're presently visiting.
3) Hotbot - http://toolbar.google.com
Hotbot allows you to search over 200 search sites including Hotbot itself. This toolbar installs itself into your windows task bar (unlike the others, which attach themselves to your browser).
4) Alexa - http://www.alexatoolbar.com
Rated by CNET Editors as a top pick download, it contains a popup stopper and combines Google search results with Alexa information. Search Amazon for products, check news and stocks, find out a site's traffic ranking, find similar sites and use their handy "tell a friend" to inform your pals of great websites -- all with just a click. This is a great one for online marketers to research your competition. Use the "wayback machine" to view archived versions of any website you're visiting.
5) Altavista - http://www.altavista.com/toolbar
This toolbar allows you to search within Altavista or within a particular site you're visiting. In addition to its built-in popup blocker news & image search and weather & zip code finder, this one will translate text or web pages into 10 different languages.
6) Teoma - http://sp.ask.com/docs/teoma/toolbar
Search Teoma from any web page. Includes a built-in highlighter that highlights your search terms as they appear on the page. Dictionary and page email functions are built right in. This toolbar is dynamically upgradeable as new versions become available.
7) Ask Jeeves - http://sp.ask.com/docs/toolbar
Search Ask Jeeves from anywhere on the web. Use the built-in "kid friendly" search function to find sites suitable for children. Get financial info, weather, news, search for local events or get a map of any location in the U.S. Also includes email this web page to a friend function.
As you can see, your options for a toolbar are pretty impressive. But which one should you use? That depends on which search engine is your favorite. Most of them offer similar features and with the inclusion of popup blocking, that's one less piece of software you need to have on your machine.
There are also toolbars served up by "Meta Search Engines." Meta engines do not maintain their own database, they actually query other major search engines for their displayed results. So if you use one of these toolbars you'll actually be doing a search across several different search engines at one time.
Let's look at a few:
1) Trellian - www.trellian.com/tooblar
Search across all major search engines such as: Alta Vista, Fast, Google, Inktomi, Overture, Teoma and more. Includes a popup killer, spellchecker, and is a handy tool for anyone doing search engine optimization.
2) Dogpile - http://www.dogpile.com/info.dogpl/tbar
Queries 13 major search engines including Google, AllTheWeb, Inktomi, Ask Jeeves, Overture and more. Includes image search, stock quotes, weather, news and much more.
3) Groowe - http://www.groowe.com
Search across Yahoo, Google, Teoma, AllTheWeb, MSN and others. Perform specialized searches, such as news or images.
4) Ultrabar - http://www.ultrabar.com
Search across multiple search engines. Ability to highlight search terms within the page you are visiting. If you'd like a customizable version of this toolbar that you can give away from your own site. Add your own menu items, icon and additional search engines. This could be used as a great promo item for your site and pricing starts at only $89.00.
As you can see, you have many choices when it comes to browser toolbars. By choosing wisely, you'll have a desktop tool that will help you be more efficient and perform smarter web searches -- and with a price tag of free, that's a terrific bargain!
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