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I Say Use The Controversial Google Toolbar

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The Google Toolbar Beta 3 has been stirring controversy and outright anger by many web site owners and advertisers since it was launched.

Google Toolbar Girl
Perhaps We Should Reconsider Google’s Toolbar

Editor’s Note: As the discussion about Google AutoLink continues, some people are beginning to show support for the controversial feature. Does this change your opinion? Discuss at WebProWorld.

This newest version of Toolbar introduced a new feature called Autolinks. Essentially, the new Google Toolbar scans each web page for certain information, such as street addresses, the ISBN book numbers, or car VIN numbers. If found, the Toolbar’s AutoLink button changes to read “Look for Map,” or “Show Book Info,” or “Show Auto Info.” Clicking one of these buttons turns these numbers into links that lead to sites programmed into the Toolbar, by default to Google’s own new map feature. In the case of book numbers, the links lead to Amazon.com. For car numbers, the links lead to Carfax, a company that sells reports detailing a car’s history.

What angers web site owners and advertisers about this is that these links can lead users away from their own site or advertisers. For example, Barnesandnoble.com is a Google advertiser, but in order to keep customers from being sent to competitor Amazon.com, they recently they had to add millions of links to every published ISBN number listed on its site.

Years ago, Microsoft was forced to pull a similar feature of theirs called Smart Tags after pundits like Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg created a firestorm of controversy. Well, today Mossberg weighed in on the Toolbar situation, bringing it to the forefront of national attention. He does believes it is a user convenience, but doesn’t like the idea of a browser creating and directing links. He said he’s spoken with Google officials and they are open to making some modifications.

My thought on Toolbar Beta 3 and Autolinks come from a user perspective. I say use it! Downloading and installing Google Toolbar takes literally minutes.It will give you a pop up blocker, spell check, word translator, autofill, highlighter, word find button, Google search field and more.

Look, the Google Toolbar is an optional download. Then, clicking on Autolinks is an optional step. On top of that, you can go into Options and change where the Autolinks point to. At this point, I don’t believe Google is overreaching. If they become more heavy-handed in their “suggestions,” I could have a problem with it.

Now when Google comes out with a much-rumored Gbrowser and it becomes the world standard we’ll have to revisit how they are using their powerful hold of the user.

Note: All of this assumes you are still on the old-school Microsoft Internet Explorer, which is the only browser on which the Google Toolbar works. Come on, get with it and starting using the much better Firefox browser!

Read about the controversy surrounding Google’s toolbar.

Mark Fleming is the founder of a new blog called Google Tutor & Advisor. Google Tutor & Advisor offers in-depth Tips, Techniques and Advice for Google Users.

Visit Google Tutor & Advisor

I Say Use The Controversial Google Toolbar
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