Was the initial reaction to Google Chrome’s Omnibox wrong?
Earlier this week Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) released its browser Chrome, and my initial reaction was that it will hurt direct navigation. Chrome includes a feature called “Omnibox”, which essentially combines the address bar and search box into one. Start typing a domain name and it will suggest alternative web sites to visit.
This clearly could divert traffic as someone types, say, DomainNameWire.com into their browser and can select to visit a competing site.
But frequent Domain Name Wire reader Joe Politzer argues the effect could be the opposite. It could actually help get some of the direct navigation traffic that is accidentally typed into the search box instead of address bar, he says. Politzer runs a computer repair and IT services shop in San Diego. He explains:
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 necessarily 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.
Good point. After all, those Overture+Ext scores we came to depend on counted on people searching for domain names. Much of that data was captured from people typing domain.com into their search box.
It remains to be seen if Politzer’s theory will come to fruition. A lot of it depends on implementation. After all, if I type domain.com into the Google search toolbar, it takes me directly to the intended web site rather than Google.
But one thing’s for sure: the search engines want to get their hands on direct navigation traffic, and they don’t want to pay for it.