If you are a blogger, or niche or affiliate marketer the Firefox browser can save you time and make you money. There are free extensions available that you can quickly install to help you do all kinds of things that you normally need custom software for.
First – if you blog or own a web site you should already be using the Firefox web browser. If you aren’t, download and install it now and make it your default browser. It’s free, it’s open source, and the same extensions are available for everyone regardless if you’re on Windows, a Mac, or Linux.
Next, download and install this list of list of free Firefox extensions – and then follow along below with my descriptions of how to use them. I’ll give you two lists of extensions, one “must have” and the second are “optional” depending on your needs and the type of web work you do. Please note, “your mileage may vary” and the more extensions you install the more memory Firefox needs to run. You can install and uninstall any of these add-ons at any time by going to “Tools -> Add-Ons” in your Firefox browser. All of my working PC’s have 1-2GB of RAM, if you have an older system with less memory you may choose to only run the essential extensions that work best for you.
Oh, also if you work in more than one location or on more than one PC you may choose to run “Portable Apps” on a memory stick thumb drive. If this sounds like what you need, read my article Portable Apps, Work from your USB Flash Drive Anywhere, and install these add-ons on a Portable version of Firefox on your flash drive.
5 Essential Firefox Extensions for Bloggers
7 Optional (but handy) Firefox Extensions for Bloggers
Details for 5 Essential Firefox Extensions for Bloggers
I’ve previously written about how to track search engine rankings for your blog, but one method requires creating an account with a web site, and it costs money after a 30 day trial. The other method requires downloading and installing software to do the tracking. Finally – the geniuses over at SEOBook have finally created a Firefox extension so you can just do this in your browser. It’s dirt simple, and always a just a click away in your status bar. Just give it a URL and some keywords and it will check google, Yahoo, and MSN Live search in a snap. You can save all the pre-configured searches you want, and even schedule them! Thank you SEOBook, this tool is a blogger’s and niche marketers dream for quickly and automatically checking your SERP rankings on a regular basis.
SEOQuake is the ultimate SEO browser add on. It’s highly configurable and has a million options, but in a nutshell it’s the ultimate tool for getting stats and information about web sites. By default when you install it you get an “SEOBar” on your web pages when your surf the web. It’s fixed at the top of the page (which annoys me), mine is setup to be ‘floating’ so I can move it around the page. You can also open and close it. I’m going to show you what the SEObar looks like (broken up into two images to fit on this page).
What stats are included on the toolbar is completely configurable in the options of the add-on, this example is the default options. In order, the options on this example are your google pagerank, number of indexed pages in google, number of backlinks listed in Yahoo, link density in Yahoo, indexed pages in MSN live search, Alexa ranking, age of the domain, links in del.icio.us, link to whois, link to source code view, link to custom link density report, number of internal links, and number of external links. This is an insane amount of information all in one place, and very, very handy even if you aren’t doing a lot of “SEO” work. It’s so handy I think every blogger should have this installed. If you are an affiliate or niche marketer and just now learning about the power of this plugin – you’ll never be without it again. There is another option for an “SEOToolbar”, which displays fixed in the top of your browser (with the same stats) just like the google toolbar. I prefer to have the floating one on the page.
But wait “there’s more”! SEOQuake also enhances your google search results, and here’s an image so you can see how that looks:
The first modification that’s made to a google SERP is the buttons at the top of the page to “save to file” or “append to file”. That’s right – you can search google for keywords, and save the SEO data to a CSV file so you can import it into a spreadsheet for analysis. While this may only be used by advanced users, the SEOQuake stats are displayed under each and every search result. Instantly get pagerank, alexa ranking, backlinks, indexed pages, and other data on all the pages ranked in google’s top positions! SEO Quake is just the plugin that won’t quit giving! Once you use it you may become addicted to looking at other people’s stats!
The del.icio.us firefox extension is very basic, but time saving. del.icio.us was the first popular online social bookmarking web app. It was also one of the very first to use (and many say innovator of) “tagging” to classify saved bookmarks. I honestly don’t know a blogger that doesn’t use this service (which is free and now owned by Yahoo!). When you have this extension installed you gain 2 things. One is with just a click of your “Ctl-D” on your keyboard you get a popup dialog box, just add your tags and it’s saved to del.icio.us. Second, if you hit “Ctl-B” you get the sidebar, and you can instantly search and find your bookmarks. This extension makes del.icis.us 100 times more usable.
Before google notebook I was an unorganized mess. I stored all my blog and web site ideas and “to-do” lists on post-it notes and scrap pieces of paper. That and lots and lots of text files. Once you install this extension – all that will change. It sets up an online “notebook” that you can use for notes, research, and works in progress. You can work in a full web page, or a small box in the bottom right of your browser by clicking “open notebook” in your status bar. You can setup separate sections, and pages, and headings, and sort multiple ways. You can drag and drop, copy and delete – but probably the greatest feature is the ability to read a web page, select some text (or image, or anything) on a web page, right click it with your mouse and select “send to notebook” and BAM! you’ve stored it for later use. This completely stops having dozens of Firefox tabs open for days and keeping notes all over the place. Being web based and part of your google account, you can access your notebook from any computer anywhere anytime. You can even send completed documents or works-in-progress to Google Docs at any time.
Oh – I almost forgot the best feature! Do you work or collaborate with others online? You can “share” a notebook with anyone (that has a google account) and collaborate with them. This is AWESOME if you work on a team online for web design, niche marketing, mentoring, consulting, or blogging!
StumbleUpon is a web based social media service that lets you “discover” web sites you like. Once you enter some keywords in your profile when you click “stumble” it just displays a random site in it’s favored index. Then you vote on it thumbs up or thumbs down style. Besides stumbling, you can vote on sites by using the toolbar as you surf the web, and if you’re the first to find a site you can give it a short written review and keywords to “tag” it in the right categories. So you have to have the toolbar to vote on sites, to stumble, but also you can use it to interact with other stumbleupon members and “friends”. Once you have found some “friends” in your profile you can use the SU toolbar to “send” them pages they might like. If you can’t already see the handwriting on the wall – most bloggers use StumbleUpon for marketing. It’s a way to connect with other bloggers, and many have no problem asking you to “stumble” their post or site. You can trade stumbles or reviews, SU is a great way to not only build community but also to get traffic.
Details for 7 Optional (but handy) Firefox Extensions for Bloggers
Web Developer: The Web Developer extension is the same, it’s for people that write HTML and CSS code and need to debug the layouts. This extension is great for finding layout issues like problems with tables and divs.
iMacros: iMacros is a neat extension that allows you to automate nearly anything in the browser from filling out forms, to downloading something, testing an application, and more. It is however, more for advanced users, coders, web developers, or bloggers with some technical geeky knowledge.
Firefox Companion for eBay: If you are a niche marketer, or someone with BANS sites, or if you do any eBay affiliate marketing at all – firefox companion for eBay is for you. You can do all your eBay searching and research in the sidebar without having to open tons of eBay tabs to get the info you want and quickly do product research.
ScribeFire: Scribefire is a plugin that uses the XML-RPC protocol to connect with your blog and enable you to write posts right in your browser without going to your admin page or browser at all. It used to be called ‘Performancing for Firefox’. It’s very popular because it works with WordPress, Blogger, Windows Live Spaces, Blogspot, Drupal, and many other blogging platforms (anything that uses the XML-RPC spec). You can take notes, write drafts, quickly publish – for many people it makes blogging more fun and easier to do. Many people report blogging a lot more once this is installed.
FireShot: Fireshot creates screenshots for you right in your browser just by clicking a button. No more opening up Photoshop or Fireworks or Paint Shop Pro. Unlike other extensions that just take a screenshot, Fireshot has graphic editing tools and you can insert text and annotate pics. You can choose to capture the whole web page or just part of it, and it will even help you upload the pic to your web site or email it to somebody for you. If you take a lot of screenshots when blogging – fireshot is for you.
ColorZilla: If you do a lot of web design or CSS work you find yourself looking for the right colors all the time. ColorZilla gives you a little eyedropper so you can get the color of anything you see – anytime, without having to visit a web based color chart, color generator, or firing up Dreamweaver. You get both hex and HTML color codes, and it has a built in palette browser as well. It has DOM spying features, which basically means you can get quick info on the color of any element on a web page. If you deal with color in your sites, this is a great plugin as well.
What Firefox Plugins work best for you as a Blogger?
As always – this is a subjective list, and maybe you use different Firefox extensions that you find invaluable. By all means – please comment now and let everyone know about them!