Will Google Chrome Hurt the Domain Industry?

The address bar and search box have become one.

It’s no secret that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) would prefer internet users to visit Google rather than use direct navigation. The company’s Google Chrome web browser is making that possible by blurring the lines between web addresses and search boxes.

Most web browsers now have a standard address bar as well as a search box (usually providing results from MSN or Google). Type an address in the address box or a search term in the search box.

Google Chrome, on the other hand, has only one box. In fact, the number one point it highlights on the Chrome web site is:

One box for everything
Type in the address bar and get suggestions for both search and web pages.

It certainly sounds like this will curtail generic type-in traffic. As someone types in a domain like Baseball.com, they may be presented with other baseball web sites.

The good news is that Google Chrome is only being used by early adopters right now and will be for the foreseeable future. Consider that Microsoft still owns 75% of the browser market. 25% of internet users are still on IE6, not IE7. Direct navigation’s sweet spot isn’t with early adopters.

However, Google has a way of penetrating the market quickly. This is just another example of the danger of competing with the hand that feeds you.


  1. says

    Is this goodbye to the extension hierarchy?
    I agree that most people are not early adopters, but after 10 minutes with Chrome I am wondering about the aftermarket – if xyz.info, or fgfhfgfh.cc, has better content, and traffic, and links, than xyz.com…?
    Anybody want to buy a (mostly parked) dotcom portfolio?

    – Paul

  2. Andrew says

    lumpenfolk – I don’t see any difference on extensions in this browser. The difference is if you end up going to a search result rather than the domain.

  3. says

    Andrew – I guess the underlying search algorithms are unchanged right now, but my number 1 worry since I started investing in (mostly .com) domains has been that at some point we will just type what we (they) are looking for, like “diet” instead of “diet.com” (or diet {Ctrl}{Enter}), and the “interface” will be smart enough to find the best (most lucrative) content. I thought it would take longer to come about.
    – Paul

  4. says

    This is very Interesting! I actually think Chrome will benefit domainers who actually really get it! Here’s what I mean:

    If you have access to Google Adwords, use the keywords tool to determine the figurative search level on any keyword domain in your portfolio. E.g I entered “Car BMW” and “Restaurant Los Angeles” of which i own both the dot coms. To my big suprise, car bmw gets 400,000 searches per month and restaurant los angeles gets ove 200,000 per month, more than los angeles restaurant.

    So why is this extremely important?? Google has only just started revealing the actual number of how many times a user searches with keywords. Before just 2 months ago or so, all you had was a graphic bar giving you an indication of search levels. Ok, this information is the killer selling point, and clever domainers should be break dancing right now! It’s very important for everyone to fundamentally understand that google is a $500 billion company because it sells the “keywords” that you the domainer own as “advertising” to the end business user.

    So therefore, if I said to a BMW car dealer why not buy CarBMW.com for $xxxxx and showed him empirical proof that 400,000 people a month actually search using those keywords, do you think he would be stupid not to buy the domain and get first page ranking with content and basic seo? or do you think he would just prefer to keep on spending thousands on google adsense for the same keywords?

    I am predicting, the value of domains is only just beginning and most of what you see out there today, all this ppc income rubbish is childs play!! It’s only a question of time before real domain innovators and marketers/ agencies, who know how to properly present the real intrinsic value of domains ensue! Very very soon big and small companies will better understand to own the location as an tangible asset rather than wasting thousands on intangibles such as adsense. However only one company can own that tangible domain…the “keyword”

    I give it 3 years max before chrome starts to kill off explorer and for domainers who really understand the value of their assets, you should be laughing. So for me, chrome is great…it’s all about the keywords and google is in the keywords business…get it?

  5. Johnny says

    I believe that if G tries to usurp the user’s intent to go directly to a domain name, that will be a turn-off to the user and they will revert to the old browser for product, service and info searches, and keep Chrome for porn searches.

    Maybe G will shoot themselves in the foot for once by being too greedy. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. :)

  6. Johnny says

    Okay… I just downloaded it.

    Here is what I immediately noticed. If you have a parked page it will not show it as a choice with the extension. If the page is developed it will show it as a .com choice that you can click. If you type in the whole domain that is parked and hit “Enter” then you go to the parked domain. The last method is the only way you can get to the parked domain. And, yes, there are plenty of suggestions to take you away from any search.

  7. jp says

    Au contraire! Unless I’m missing something, it looks to me like google just significantly increased the value of generic type-ins! In case you guys missed what I do for a day job in a previous comment, I run an IT Consulting / Networking / Computer Repair Business in San Diego. I watch countless numbers of John Q Internet Users use their web-browsers each week (under my instruction, which they try their hardest to follow). I would argue that nearly 100% (I know its alarming) of my customers (which are a pretty arbitrary yet accurate sampling of the internet user population) mis-use their Internet Explorer web browser just about every time they try to go to a website.

    Some of them type their search query into the Address bar, and lots of others attempt to direct navigate using the search box. Its amazing how many people seem to want to put the square peg through the round hole! The thing is when they direct navigate using the search box, it doesn’t take them directly to the domain they were attempting to reach, but search results, which don’t even neccissarily contain the desired domain at all.

    Bottom line, with this multi-function address bar, any attempt at direct navigation will now be honored as long as a site exists at the typed-in address.

    There is something we will lose however, we will no longer be able to see OVT w/Ext type scores for people attempting direct navigation out of the search box, unless of course google continues to track this data and make it available for their combo address/search box.

    On an interesting side note, I find FireFox users are actually far more likely to know how to use a web browser than IE users.

  8. says

    Hi JP,

    Thank you for your very interesting observation. I never considered it, but removing the search box could be beneficial to domainers.

    Michael Collins
    Internet Commerce Association

  9. says

    Chrome creates a walled garden.

    Chrome reduces the control that web users have to identify and reach sites of their choice.

    Chrome interjects Google between owners of websites and potential customers.

    Chrome represents proprietary search and gives Google too much power over access to information on the Internet.

    Doing something that Google’s doesn’t rate highly? Don’t count on the same level of access to viewers with Chrome versus other browsers.

    Why aren’t free speech considerations being included in mainstream-media discussions of Chrome?

  10. jp says

    I just installed Chrome on another computer and on my first launch of it, it told me that MSN Live Search was my current search provider, and watned to know if I wanted to change it. I said no. Now when I type stuff into the search/address bar like “blah blah” it does a msn search, not a google search. I was a little suprised. Furthermore you can go to the options and from a drop down you can select from other search providers, such as Yahoo, and so on.

    I will say, along with everyone else I am skeptical. I don’t trust google, and google doesn’t trust me (or anyone else for that matter). That is the breeding ground for a bad business relationship, however I havn’t identified any specific glaring issues with Chrome yet. On the surface they appear to be playing fair to me, but I am sure they are getting lots of valuable data from this new browser app, and I just hope that this new data causes them to take actions that also benefit domainers.

    Am I missing something here?

  11. says

    Hi, I saw this conversation referenced at http://www.SubliminalMessages.Com and think some of you are getting scared for no reason. Yes, direct navigation is nice, but the best part of domaining is the ease of remembering a good name.

    I was at a party earlier tonight and it was nice to be able to give someone my website address and know that when he gets home, he will be able to remember it and properly access it. That’s what a good domain is all about. Kinda like a good phone number. Ease of recall — without the need to write anything down.

    Sure, there are tons of other advantages too, but, in my opinion, ease of recall is the most valuable. Not much Chrome or any other browser can do to take that away.

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