Thursday, October 09, 2008

DBE Review of Google Chrome

Last month marked the launch of Google Chrome. The open-source Web browser features a minimalist design and is intended to be faster, safer and more stable than existing browsers. It even comes with its own comic book, which explains Chrome’s features in detail.

After letting the DBE team play with Chrome for a month, here are our thoughts on the browser:


Chrome displays your frequently visited pages when you open up a new tab or window.

Typing into the “Omnibox” address bar automatically generates a drop-down menu with predictive text for search queries and suggestions for which site you may be looking for. After typing just one or two letters, you usually find the site you want.

The warnings when you enter porn mode, the private browsing feature, are funny. (The official name for the private browsing feature is “incognito mode”.) This mode is applicable to what the user's computer remembers (what sites user visited, what are the search queries user entered, etc.) that are remembered by the computer.

When you hit CTRL+F and search for a keyword on a page, Chrome automatically gives you the count for how many times the keyword appears and highlights the term throughout the page.

“View source” brings up a separate tab with line numbers and different color coding for the source code. Nifty!


Some of us miss the traditional search box. Even though you can use the Omnibox address bar to send queries to your default search engine, we miss the convenience of being able to switch between multiple search engines (this feature is available in both IE and Firefox).

Other thoughts on searching with Chrome:
1. To search for keyword in Yahoo, MSN, or any other search engine, type the search engine name and the keyword in the Omnibox address bar. This will give you the option to “Search [Search Engine] for [keyword]?”
2. If you use the Google Toolbar a lot, you’ll need to be patient with Chrome. Google says it has plans to develop some type of generic API for Chrome first, and then it plans to bring another toolbar out.
3. Regarding your privacy, Google engineer Matt Cutts reassures Chrome users that, “If you’re just surfing around the web and clicking on links, that information does not go to

Bookmarking could be better. Bookmarks do appear on the start page, but aren’t accessible from an active tab, unless you toggle the bookmark bar on (CTRL+B). A small drop-down option might be nice. (We did find an option in the settings to add a “home” button to the toolbar, which helps a bit with this.)

Those of us with a lot of bookmarks weren’t able to transfer all of them to Chrome.

There are some bugs to be worked out, which is natural since Chrome is still in beta testing. One of our team members noticed that the touchpad scroll on his laptop was not functioning properly. It would very quickly move to the bottom of the page and would not scroll up. We’ve seen similar feedback from other users, so it’s not an isolated problem.

When trying to stream music (Internet radio), one of us noticed that it gets hung up and repeats several times during songs – this never happened before installing Chrome. Can’t say it’s related for sure, but there is a Google Groups posting about video and flash hanging up in Chrome.

Our thoughts from an SEO’s perspective:

Since there is no Google toolbar for Chrome, we’re unable to see a site’s PageRank. In order to perform other toolbar functions, you have to use shortcuts.

Chrome’s Incognito browsing will only affect Webtrends analytics tracking in terms of counting unique visitors to a site. (Since Webtrends and other analytics programs can't set the permanent cookie when the visitor is using the "inprivate" mode visits the site, they won't count the visitor as repeat visitor when the visitor visits the site next time. Since inprivate mode accepts session cookies, Webtrends/any other stats software will be able to track the user's session (what path user took thru' the site, etc.) However, users using this mode will still be counted as organic search visitors. Demographic data/SEA geo-targeting won't be affected either.

You usually can’t see the entire title tag, as the tab is too small.  True, all you have to do is mouse over it to see the whole text, but it’s not as easy as just looking at it in IE or Firefox.

Overall, Chrome is a bit rough around the edges, but we like what we see and encourage others to give Chrome a test drive.

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