What's in a domain name?

Will search boxes be the new address bars in your browser? Probably not, but they sure are useful.

While Google bombs and sites that operate as giant search engine optimization hacks can make it difficult to find what you're looking for on some search engines, sometimes it's even harder to get to the page of a product or service you saw a promotion for while out and about.

The sad truth is that nearly all of the good domain names are taken. We see it in the products we look at every day that have slight misspellings, missing vowels, or letters tacked on before, after, or sometimes in between regular words. These names can be incredibly hard to remember when it comes time to market a service, and in Japan companies are starting to realize that.

To compensate, companies are placing resources into making their official home page the top search result instead of going for the easy, and often times, expensive domain name. On a trip to Japan, blogger Cabel Maxfield Sasser noticed a barrage of ads for sites that did away with a long form domain (such as http://www.washingtonpost.com/) and instead put the company name in a search box. Of course part of this is because of Japan's phone-savvy culture, where even on the best phone keypads or mobile browsers, typing in extra letters can be a pain.

Japan subway ad
One of the domain-less ads seen on Japanese public transport. www.cabel.name

Sasser has posted a pictorial of the ads on his blog, many of which feature a mouse cursor on the search button of a made-up search box. In my own experience I've seen enough URLs of pretty great start-ups that end in .net, .us, or other odd .com names that I know would confuse my friends and family if they tried to type it into their browser's navigation box. Telling them to simply search for it, or read our blog post about it ends up being easier.

We don't spend a lot of time talking about SEO on Webware, but clearly it's important for these companies with odd .com domains or spellings if they're trying to reach mass markets. Services such as YouTube are now ingrained in people's heads with that spelling, but because it was so easily confused for UTube.com meant that Universal Tube & Rollform who owned the domain switched businesses entirely last year to cash in. The .tv's and .fm's have helped with video and audio services, but clearly going forward the land grab for domains might not be nearly as important as making your service the top search result.

[via BoingBoing]

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Software
About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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