There has been much said, some good and some bad, concerning Alexa's toolbar. This is a tool used in gathering information that will provide a website's Alexa ranking. It is available for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, the Internet Explorer's version serving as the example for this article.
Please keep in mind this is not a search engine, rather a "companion" designed to provide you with additional information. Yes, you are able to navigate the internet from the toolbar itself, but again it is not a search engine. While navigating the web, the toolbar will provide you not only traffic data pertaining to the website, but contact information of the website as well. You will receive links to other similar websites, and be able to interact with additional users of the toolbar.
I am sure everyone has gotten a search result containing websites that were absolutely useless. Many times you ended up using a link within the website requiring you to obtain your information elsewhere. The toolbar will provide you with complete data, normally not seen. Among this information are links that take you where you need to go. A portion of the data you are given is among that used to assign Alexa ranking
One of the great things about the toolbar is the website information given to you, the user. Contact information, website statistics and user reviews are included. It is also possible to write a review of your own, offering your opinion of the website. It is also possible to use a feature of the toolbar referred to as "The Wayback Machine". This will allow you to view the website as it appeared at a prior point of time past.
There are many outstanding features built into the toolbar. Two that are particularly unique are the "Hot Pages" and the "Hot Topics" options. With these you have the ability to learn what web pages are popular at the moment, as well as what topics are being accessed the most. This information is updated in five minute intervals, enabling you to stay on top of the information you need the most. Again, this is information that is used to help determine a website's Alexa ranking.
So what are the "Hot Sites" according to Alexa? The company releases a list of the Top 500, the websites with the highest Alexa ranking. At the top of the list are:
Google - It goes without saying Google.com should be number one on Alexa's list. It is accessed millions of time daily for searching the internet. It's Alexa ranking as the number one website in the world is the result of traffic information gathered by Alexa over a three month period
FaceBook - Just imagine, this giant was created and began operation in a dorm room.
It is a Social Networking Site, linking friends and provides uploading of photos and videos. It's number two, Alexa ranking names it as the second most popular website in the world.
YouTube - As the third most popular website, YouTube not only serves as a great entertainment website, but also acts as a marketing tool. There are many companies posting information and marketing videos on YouTube in order to drive traffic to their website.
Yahoo - Yahoo.com claims the fourth most popular website in the world. It offers a search engine, chat rooms, email capabilities and more.
I have only briefly touched on the toolbar, giving you just the highlights. I only presented the top four websites, there are 496 to go in the list. I hope you will take the time to explore both in greater detail.