5 Essential Google Chrome Extensions

It has been a busy year and a half for Google’s browser. Since its release Google Chrome has worked its way up to version 5, has gone from being Windows-only to being available for all three major operating systems and has become the third most-popular browser, raking in over 6% of the total browser market share.

However, one of the biggest additions to Chrome was the implementation of its extensions platform. Though its extension functionality is more limited than Firefox, its add ons can be more easily installed, not requiring a restart, and can still do some very amazing things.

If you’re a Chrome user, either for your main browser or as a backup, here are five extensions that you may want to install to help you with your hosting needs. These extensions can help you do everything from analyze how a site is run, find available domain names, track your site’s speed and gather information about a domain.

Best of all, each extension is completely free and can be installed with the simple click of a mouse.

1. Chrome Sniffer

Many times it is trivial to see what powers a site. Other times, you may need a little help and Chrome Sniffer can do just that.

Chrome Sniffer sits as an icon in your Chrome address bar and, on click, displays the detected web frameworks, CMSs and javascript libraries running on current browsing website. This includes WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, JQuery, Google Analytics and almost 50 other libraries.

This can be particularly useful if you’re trying to see how well a certain CMS runs on a host by letting you see what powers the a site on it and judge the performance for yourself. Alternatively, it lets you find sites that use a similar set up to yours and then determine where they host to get an idea of what might be a good place for you to call home.

2. Domain Availability Checker

Ever had an idea for a great domain name but didn’t want to bother going to a registrar to check it out? Domain Availability Checker does it for you without having to open a new tab or leave the page you are on.

Simply set up the TLDs you want to check and type in the domain you want to look up and DAC will do the rest. You can select from a number of registrars and, if the domain is available, click the link to buy it immediately. It’s a very simple and elegant tool that takes one of the minor hassles out of testing and buying new domains.

If you are a heavy purchaser of domains, or just someone who dabbles in them, this is not an extension you want to be without.

3. Site Information Tool

Site Information Tool (SIT) is a simple but powerful extension that compiles a slew of information about a site at your fingertips. By simply clicking the button in your taskbar, you’re greeted with information about the site’s SEO (PageRank, links, etc.), server information, whois data, IP information, relevant keywords for the site and the status of the domain iteself. All within seconds.

It is a great way to instantly compile a variety of data about a site, which can be useful for digging deep into a site for situations such as reporting abuse or making decisions about purchasing a site or a domain.

4. SEO Site Tools

Similar to SIT, SEO Site Tools (SST) provides a powerful dataset on any site that you’re visiting. Most of the same information is there but SST also provides advice for improving the SEO of your site and also displays the domain’s PageRank in the task bar at all times.

Though definitely more aimed at the SEO crowd than SIT, its server information is solid and provides a slightly improved visual interface. That being said, I personally prefer the way SIT places all of the information on one page rather than have me click through various categories.

Still, the choice between SST and SIT depends mostly on if your main goal is to learn about site for SEO purposes or to understand more about how it works behind the scenes.

5. Speed Tracer

Finally, how fast is your site? If you don’t have a good answer for that, Speed Tracer can help. Not only can it tell you how fast your server loads the data, but also the execution time of your various elements, letting you know where any potential slow downs might be.

However, Speed Tracer does require that you run Chrome with the “–enable-extension-timeline-api” flag and be using the latest developer release. While this may be fine for those who don’t use Chrome as their primary browser, those who do will understandably be nervous about running cutting-edge versions of it.

Still, if you’re into optimizing every element of your site, this may be the perfect tool for you.

Bottom Line

Google Chrome already has an impressive lineup of add ons and, thanks to the rapid uptake of the browser and the ease of developing Chrome extensions, the library is growing by leaps and bounds.

Though the extensions are extremely varied, including improvements to Chrome’s UI, ad blockers, site fixes and bookmarklets among others, its clear that webmasters, domaineers and Web professionals will have more and more to look forward to from Chrome in the near future.

So, if you haven’t given Chrome a chance, now may be a great opportunity to do just that.

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