There are many reasons one might want to learn more information about a site they are visiting. Perhaps the site is a competitor that is beating you in the search engine rankings. It could be that the site is a spam blog or other site warranting an abuse report to their host. Maybe they are just curious to find out who is hosting the fast-moving server, making them want to switch to their host.
Whatever the reason, cutting through the veil of a site to learn what makes it tick can be a tricky feat, especially for those who are not familiar with the inner workings of the Web. Navigating through a mess of Whois results and DNS information can be very useful, but also intimidating.
So how does one learn more about a site, preferably without being inundated with confusing information? Here are five simple bookmarklets that can teach you more about a site with just one click.
If you want to know who is hosting a site, there is no easier or faster way to learn than WhoIsHostingThis. Simply drag the bookmarklet to your browser tool bar, click it and the site will tell you who the host is of that particular page. WhoIsHostingThis doesn’t make you wade through a mess of DNS records or other advanced information. It does the math for you, giving you the name of the host.
As a warning, the service is not perfect. Though it’s accuracy is very good and getting better every day, there are times it does get things wrong. It’s important to do a sanity check when using the service.
It’s hard to imagine getting much more information about a site out of one bookmarklet. Installing this in your browser’s toolbar and clicking it will literally bring you eight pages of information including how popular it is in social news/networking sites, its estimated traffic, information about the server and even any Twitter accounts associated with it.
Surprisingly, Quarkbase does not tell you anything about who is hosting the site or the site’s PageRank. However, these omissions only seem glaring in light of the information Quarkbase does provide.
A bookmarklet well worth adding to your browser.
Smart PageRank does one thing and it does it well, it tells you the PageRank of the site that you are on. It’s that simple.
But what makes the service so “Smart” is that it checks the site both with and without the “www”, letting you detect any possible errors or problems. It also provides a slew of other information including Alexa traffic data, a backlink analysis and an estimated number of pages indexed (though this feature doesn’t seem to be perfect on some search engines).
A great tool for getting a quick overview of the SEO of a particular site and ideal for those that don’t wish to run the Google Toolbar or another PageRank extension, but do want to know score of a page from time to time.
Even though Domain Tools is the kind provides the kind of intimidating information many people try to avoid, it presents it in a clear and simple manner. Through its results, you can see who’s name the domain is registered in, information about the server, its IP address, information about inbound links and references in search engines/directories.
For those that need more powerful information, Domain Tools has one-click access to IP Whois, Traceroute, advanced DNS and other information that can help you further track down how a site operates.
It’s one thing to know how a site or page looks today, but the Wayback Machine’s bookmarklet (Scroll down to “Take The Wayback Machine With You”) makes it possible to see how the site looked at almost any point in that site’s history. By letting you look at old versions of a page, you can not only see how its look and feel changed, but how the content evolved.
Perhaps most powerful of all is that, by looking at the first copies of page that are stored, you can get an approximate idea of the age of the site, making it a great tool for understanding how a site grew up and came to be whatever it is today.
The beauty of bookmarklets is that they are a free and easy way to extend the power of nearly any browser. By dragging and dropping these links into your bookmark toolbar, you can turn your browser into an information-gathering powerhouse, one capable of getting almost any detail about the page you are looking at with the click of a mouse.
You may not need all of these bookmarklets or even most of them, but just one or two of these can greatly expand your understanding of the Web sites you visit.
Even if you don’t need the information for any business or personal reason, it can be a lot of fun and very interesting to peek behind the veil of a site and see beyond the HTML code.