I’ve been noodling around and making custom buttons for the new Google Toolbar buttons for beta version 4 of the Google toolbar for Internet Explorer 5.5+. In Google’s words, a custom toolbar button is “a push button that you can add to the Google Toolbar that can have custom navigation, search, send and update capabilities.” Custom buttons offer cute and convenient possibilities of keeping visitors connected to your web site.
Google Toolbar Buttons are the same size (16 X16) as the standard for favicons. Webmasters can use their existing favicons or create one to use as the button image (must take the simple step to convert it to base64 encoding with a tool like this).
What I really dig about the custom toolbar buttons is that Google lets developers add a search component to narrow a search to a particular site by entering text in the search field and clicking a button. For example, if you don’t find what you’re looking for on your favorite search engine, narrow your search to Slashdot by clicking the button (assuming you added it) and the query goes to Slashdot.org and displays results. The Whois.sc button shows you the the Whois data for the page you are viewing in one click–very useful. My favorite feature is the ability to create a button that displays your site’s rss feed with each entry refreshing in a drop down list. So, fans of your site or blog can see when you’ve updated something.
Essentially, to create your own custom Google Toolbar button, all you need do is look at the Google example in the api documentation and just substitute your own site info. Then, save it to an XML file and link the button. The below button for the Clickfire site displays the most recent articles and reviews.
The link code to install the button is this:
Substitute your own site URI and XML file name.
Here is the Google Toolbar Button code I used for my Blog (http://www.clickfire.com/googlebutton2.xml). Substitute your info to create your own button’s XML file:
< ?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″ ?>
<title>Clickfire SEO Blog</title>
<description>The life of a SEO, his site, and the Internet.</description>
<feed refresh-interval=”900″ refresh-onclick=”true”>http://blog.clickfire.com/feed/</feed>
<icon mode=”base64″ type=”image/x-icon”>AAABAAEAEBAQAAEABAAoAQAAFgAAACgAAAAQAAAAIAAAAA
Despite the Google Toolbar Button Gallery rearrangement, Google is still allowing link from the directory to be “followed,” so, in theory, you should still get the benefit of a link if one of the pages with your button on it is indexed. I’ve noticed backlinks from the foreign versions of the Google Toolbar Button being reported.