Will search finally kill off the URL?

Much fuss and expenditure is being made about domain names, particularly with the news that eventually any TLD (the .com or .co.uk bit) will be allowed. Meanwhile, however, I wonder if the domain name is dying a bit of a death, and will eventually be relegated to a behind-the-scenes technicality. Something has been happening recently which reminds me of the moment I first saw a company advertising its internet domain name about 17 or 18 years ago. I was amazed to see it then, and immediately thought: “this web thing is here to stay”. Since then it has become unthinkable not to quote your domain name at every opportunity …until recently. What we’re now seeing are two changes. The first is a downgrading of the prominence with which large organisations quote their domain name, because of the acceptance that almost everyone is going to type the company name into their browser’s search bar, rather than type in the domain name. With the Google Chrome browser, there isn’t even a separate search bar any more, and I suspect that for users of other browsers, the address bar is used far less than the search bar now.

The second change is for organisations to quote specific searches rather than URLs. An example you might have seen would be: “To find out more, visit your nearest Army Careers Office, or search ‘Army Jobs’ online”. Even if the Army has a more memorable redirected URL than http://www.army.mod.uk/join/20072.aspx, I would imagine that most would-be applicants would be more inclined to type “army jobs” into the search bar.

Now, many of you would like to send people to specific pages on your website from print, but are put off because you have awkward URLs which you (correctly) suspect nobody would ever type in. One way around this would be to set up a redirected, simpler URL, or even a whole new domain, but another might be to just say “search for…” So if you have a print advert, or you’re writing a letter to prospects, and want to direct people to a specific page, consider that as an option. You’ve got to be certain of topping the search results, but if it’s a product model number you’re referring to, there’s no reason why you can’t be confident that’s the case.

I think that it won’t be long until we look back on how quaint it was to say “read more at bmon.co.uk” in the same way as we already look back on our former habit of always including the “http://” bit. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about our Google AdWords management services, search for “bmon adwords” online.

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