The Browsers – Reviewed

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My use of a variety of browsers is driven by the nightmare of trying to manage  a ton of separate login profiles,  so let me start off this article with what SEOs really need: a browser that allows the management of many logins simultaneously (ie several gmail/adwords/facebook/etc accounts).

Here I will share my experience with some of the big names, and a few of the “lesser knowns.”

The browsers evolve over time so this document will as well… also as I add new browsers that I find.

Google Chrome

The winner.  Chrome is the best of all  – as of today. It is just so fast… Recently, I was in a hurry and clicked on the Opera browser icon.  I got tired of watching the icon bounce in the taskbar, slowly starting up. I opened up Google Chrome and browsed to the site I was looking for – before Opera was even fully open.

Chrome is also sleek and simple.  The lack of menus makes more of the page visible.  There are browser extensions or “add-ons” that you can easily install to customize the functionality and experience.  One I recently added on was a button to “reload all tabs.”

Also, the more I use Chrome the more cool features I discover that are built into it.  For instance if you “right click” and “inspect element” on a web page you can see the code that is working behind that part of the page.  THEN, you click the “audit” button and it reloads the page and identifies processes that could be improved to make the site optimized for quicker and cleaner loading.  There are several other features “under the hood” of Chrome that could probably make a web developer’s life a lot easier (and probably put some 3rd party applications out of business)

Also, seeing a commercial on TV for Google Chrome’s “It Gets Better” Campaign was pretty eye opening.  Even if this message somehow offends you, perhaps give Google some props for having the guts to put this foot forward.

The only downside I can add to Google Chrome is that it so pared down and sleek that it can be difficult to find the menus and work with favorites, etc.  A great companion is Mozilla Firefox…


Mozilla Firefox

In its latest release (Firefox 7), Mozilla has made their browser better than ever by making it faster and sleeker (no doubt competing with Chrome). I consider Firefox a great companion to Google Chrome. It really provides a complementary set of features to Chrome and depending on the type of work I’m doing, usually one or the other is distinctly better.

Firefox was the first browser that I can remember providing a sensational upgrade in performance over the native browsers that came with Windows or Mac OS. I guess added functionality was a requirement for Firefox to compete with browsers that were built into the computer’s operating systems (like Explorer and Safari).

Firefox’s first claim to fame seemed to be speed (hence the name).  I would go out on a limb and say that it is definitely faster than Internet Explorer and Opera (both horribly slow) but doesn’t distinguish itself from the rest.  It may have been faster in previous incarnations.

What’s good about Firefox: it is kind of chunky.

What’s bad about Firefox: it is kind of chunky.

Hear me out: Firefox is feature rich and especially the add-ons are plentiful.   These add-ons allow you to really customize the experience and greatly extend the feature set (our favorite add-on: SEO Quake).  It is a little bit confusing to manage many of  the add-ons, but getting easier.

But when you are really just browsing the web, Firefox is just a tad slow and the browser apparatus is a little too busy.  They have made great strides in the latest release to improve this (but it still pales in comparison to Chrome in this regard).


Internet Explorer

Oh how I dislike “IE.”

Let’s take a look at IE when I open it on my mac (the default page they give you is  – everyone’s favorite site, right?):

IE for mac fail


The interface looks like its from 2007 and the home page ( doesnt’ even display right. Really Internet Explorer? Show some self respect!

So let’s give IE the benefit of the doubt and assume it only cares about how it performs Windows computers. The last time I was setting up a new work computer and  tried to change the default search to Google (from Bing), Bing  returned a search result that led to a broken “not found” page.  So childish (this has since been fixed).

IE is so slow, clunky, uses a ton of processor, and crashes too frequently.

BUT, every tool has it’s use, so let’s focus on what IE has going for it:

  • every website is most likely optimized to appear correctly in IE since it is has the greatest market share (so if you want to watch youtube videos or print from google maps, or anything like that  – you know IE will be able to deliver)
  • IE lets you see the page “title” at the top of the browser bar
  • IE is what clients are most likely using to see the work you do for them, so it allows us to see what our clients will be seeing


safari review logo Safari

I use Safari on my Windows machine as well as my Mac.  I like it better on my Mac but no surprise there.  Here is what Safari has going for it:

  • nice layout
  • pretty fast
  • almost never crashes
  • was a leader (and still the best) in managing tabs/bookmarks/tab groups  and bookmarking multiple tabs tabs and making multiple groups of bookmarks easy to find.
  • best history display and easiest search
  • every website will display properly in Safari (similar to IE above)

Safari is a great browser that provides a great user experience.  If it weren’t for the sleekness/speed of Chrome, and the additional functionalities/add-ons for Firefox, I would be pretty happy using Safari exclusively.



Opera I have a soft spot for because it saved the day for my mobile browsing.  Opera is what I use on my (sucky) work blackberry that the (incredibly sucky)native browser won’t even load most pages.  So I am grateful for Opera on my blackberry (but it could be better).screen shot of opera

But Opera on the computer is not so great.  I use it for both Mac and Windows and primarily just to help manage my plethora of login identities. Opera is SLOW and clunky. Opera has tried to differentiate itself with a feature that allows you to preview tabs (kind of cool I guess but also buggy). Unfortunately for Opera, it is always getting error messages in Adwords (and probably other sites) that insinuate it is “not the latest version” or “refresh to upgrade Adwords” which tells me that Opera isn’t “speaking the right language” to these sites.

Finally, I will add that Opera is not that great because it always wants you to download a new version which is annoying and if I had to guess it’s to fix some of the bugs that make it less than ideal.  Opera does have a nice password manager interface.


camino logo Camino

Camino is a Mac only browser that is pretty good actually.  It has a robust bookmark/history interface and nice layout with attractive buttons. Using Camino feels like using a cross between Firefox and and Safari, and I haven’t found anything in Camino that differentiates it greatly from either of these.  A solid browser.

11/2/11 Update: Apparently you can’t upload video to Youtube through Camino which I found out in such a frustrating manner that it makes me want to push this browser even farther down the list.


omniweb review Omniweb

The jury is out on OmniWeb until further research and experimentation is performed. OmniWeb is another “Mac only” browser and I am intrigued by it.  I think OmniWeb is dynamic and has some customizable features  that might make it really great for some purposes.  For instance, you can customize the way specific web pages appear in OmniWeb (where as for other browsers I believe that it’s a global setting).

Casual testing and use in OmniWeb makes it seem slow and clunky but it might be a worthy tradeoff for the features it offers. OmniWeb looks and feels a lot like Camino but a little more “chunky” of an interface.

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