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navigate web pageThe Internet and the search engines made it so easy to find plenty of information about anyone or anything. In fact we can now find and go through so much content that we barely have time to read. We rather scan through the articles to get the main idea or to get to the place which is really important to us.

Today’s post will make the task of “scanning” webpage content easier, smarter and more efficient: both the addons listed here create a short outline of the current page and let you quickly jump to the part of the page that seems to be most relevant.

Navigate the Page Using Subheadings

HeadingsMap is a handy FireFox addon that generates the page map based on its headings and subheadings.

Headings and subheadings are the elements of the page marked-up using <h1> – <h6> tags. Website content creators use the tags to structure the page based on topics and subtopics. Here’s an easy way to describe what page headings are about:

Back in school when you were taught how to write papers, you had your main idea with the main heading (H1) and then supporting facts with subheadings (H2) and often those supporting facts had their own supporting facts (H3).

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Website content creators are guided by the same principle when creating a web page content – therefore extracting those subheadings is a great way to generate the outline of the current article. The HeadingsMap addon makes this outline and it also makes it clickable.

The heading map is triggered in the sidebar once you click the <h/> icon in the status bar:

navigate web page

Here’s the heading map of one of the recent MUO articles, for example:

firefox navigate

Notice that the addon highlights the places where the structure is somewhat broken: in our case, that’s h4 tag coming above h3 tag.

Notice also that it brings you to the subheading on the page and highlights it in yellow once you click it in the heading map.

Note: website owners are not always really consistent when it comes to using the h1-h6 tags, so the outline won’t always be correct (but it will still represent the contests of the page):

  • Some subheadings get omitted and missed;
  • Some elements of the page are marked-up with h1-h3 tags for “search engines” (as these are believed to be good places to put your keywords).

Navigate the Page Using the Tag Cloud

While the above addon relies on website owners and how they use the heading tags, this tool uses its own built-in algorithm to do the text analysis of any page and to generate a tag cloud representing its most frequent words and pages.

Once you have the addon installed, use the keyboard shortcut Alt+Shift+U to generate a tag cloud for the current web page (Note: the same shortcut generates the tag cloud for a part of the page as well: just select the area you want the tag cloud for and use the shortcut – this is very handy when you, for example, want to omit readers’ comments, navigation, etc).

Here’s a tag cloud for the exact same MUO article:

firefox navigate

Now just click any tag that you want more context for and you’ll be taken to its first occurrence on the web page; click again and you’ll be taken to its next occurrence (the type of behavior you have with the addons that allow to highlight Google search terms on the target page 3 Tools To Highlight Google Search Terms On The Target Page 3 Tools To Highlight Google Search Terms On The Target Page Read More ):

navigate web page

Are there any other addons that offer some alternative and interesting ways to navigate the current page? Please share them in the comments!

  1. Aibek
    February 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I am not really sure how someone can make use of the tag cloud addon when reading a long article. That being said, I think it's a pretty cool tool for checking keyword density on a page :-)

    • Ann Smarty
      February 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      No, not for SEO purposes only. :) I found it a great way to find the word occurrence on a page and quickly jump to it skipping all that's irrelevant.

    • Aibek
      February 13, 2011 at 4:33 am

      yeah, actually now that I think about it I can see how it can come in handy

  2. Slide Buddy
    February 8, 2011 at 2:25 am

    It's pretty sad, but it's my constant prescence in the world of the Internet that made me more of a scanner than anything, especially if it's an epic article. I love this though, it helps weed out more pertinent information, and definitely saves reading time.

    • Ann Smarty
      February 8, 2011 at 7:47 am

      Thanks! I often feel sad about that too: I miss the time when I really had to go *through* an article or a book, not just scan it over

    • Hozefa KB
      February 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      So shouldn't you be glad that you are saving time from going through an article that you have no interest in? Or skipping the topic you are already aware of?

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