Robin Cannon in Search Engine Journal asks the somewhat puzzling question, ‘Is Google Trumping The URL?‘ Apparently more and more people use Google to find websites than type in the URL in the address bar of their browser. As he says:
When there’s a simple box to fill in with your search term, and you know exactly what you’re looking, why bother to use the address bar? If statistics on popular searches are anything to go by, it looks like many people aren’t bothering with that inconvenient “www” and “.com” and are just going straight through Google.
Hitwise UK just published its most searched for brands 2007 statistics, and the fastest rising US search terms are widely available. Both suggest that Google users know exactly where they want to browse to, and just use the search box to give them the link to click.
It’s certainly an intriguing finding. It brings with it a very important downgrading of the value of a dot-com domain name. If anyone is typing in a website URL in the browser address bar, then they may well guess that it’s a dot-com domain. So they type say ‘cnn.com’, hit the [Enter] key and will be shown the www.cnn.com website. If they are somewhat computer savvy, then they need only type cnn and hit [Control][Enter] and the same website opens up. That works for almost any browser, be it Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari or even exotic ones like Flock.
Using the Google search box instead of the address bar opens up a whole new world. Typing in only the domain name without the dot-com may or may not bring you to the dot-com website. It all depends what Google feels is the most relevant result for the word you have typed in. If you can get your dot-net, dot-org or dot-ca website to be #1 in Google, then you’ll win the searcher’s click. Dot-com domains are no longer invincible on the web. As so often happens, the Internet with Google’s help is levelling the playing field