Over the past year, I’ve observed my kids exhibiting a similar behavior when going to various destinations on the Internet. Rather than typing “destination.com” in the address bar, they go to the search box and type “destination”. As I thought about this, three reasons came to mind to explain their behavior:
- It’s less typing. They have discovered a way to reduce the number of key strokes to get to their destination.
- They trust that the results of their Internet search will return the destination URL in the 1st or 2nd listing of the search results.
- People think and relate to brand names and the association to a product/service rather than an address.
The behavior I observed with my kids is not isolated to them. When I searched for some research on this topic, I found this piece about how the search box is used to type in the .com site name for online dating services.
If you look at current trends with browsers you’ll see that we may be headed for a combined address and search box. In fact, Google has filed for a patent to combine the two boxes. If you use Firefox as your browser of choice, you will see that typing a search phrase in the address bar does return a Google search result. It’s the number one result in the “I’m feeling lucky” search from Google. Want Firefox to return a standard search results page? Read this. For our friends at Microsoft, I tried a keyword in the address bar on Internet Explorer 8. Typing a phrase in the address bar returned a Google results page. Nothing like putting a destination in your browser for your biggest competitor.
Think about this. Why do we need two input boxes for addresses and search? It’s a nice simplification and natural advance to combine the two boxes. As I noted about, we think in terms of what we need, not an address. However, Google and other search engines have something to loose if the two boxes are combined. If you type in “destination.com” and get a search page of results, Google is making money for the ads you see. If they combine the two boxes and you do that then you’ll be taken directly to the destination address and not see the search results. So who will win out? The consumer or the money making company?
What lessons can learn from Internet search behaviors, browser offerings, and how we market our products and services?
- Your brand is your traffic generator. On some materials you may choose not to spell out an Internet address (destination.com). This is OK, because people will search for you based on your brand name or the type of product/service you offer and not your web address. It’s not about you, it’s about your product/service meeting a need and providing utility.
- You need to make sure your brand is in the top slot of unpaid search results for the like key-word in an Internet search. There are many volumes of books, articles, and blogs about search engine optimization. If you haven’t already, find someone you trust and start making plans for this. You could even contact me…..
- Put your brand in as many locations as possible. It seems obvious, but don’t have to worry about additional wording because your name only can drive awareness and subsequently traffic to your web site. This simplifies your task by both removing the task of creating copy as well as reducing the amount of space required to put your message on a particular item.