Bad News For Domainers? Kids Don’t Use URL’s But Search Engines To Connect To Sites

If A new study by security firm Symantec is accurate, its bad news for domainers.

The study found that kids use search engines to find sites, rather than typing the URL’s directly into the navigation bar.

“YouTube” was the #1 most search term, “You Tube” was #11 and “YouTube.com” #12.

Google was the #2 most search term.

Facebook was #3.

Myspace was #5.

Get the idea?

Why would kids go to a search engine and type in facebook, rather than typing in facebook.com into the browser directly?

The bigger problem is if Kids use search engines to find sites they want to visit like facebook, rather than typing in facebook.com into the navigation bar on the browser, one could expect that habit to continue into their adult online life, meaning less traffic by direct navigation to our domains down the line.

One can only hope that the study was flawed or do not accurate reflect kids navigating habits.

The study was based 3.5 million searches that were submitted by users of their OnlineFamily.Norton services, between February and July 2009

The list of search terms was ranked from those submitted most frequently to those submitted the least.

In order to be included in the list of kids’ top search terms, a search term had to have been submitted at least 50 times by registered users of OnlineFamily.Norton.

You can see the top 100 searches by clicking here.

Comments

  1. says

    why is this bad for domainers? it may not be good for people who rely heavily on direct navigation for PPC/parking. I guess it depends on your definition of domainer, but someone who relies strictly on type in traffic/PPC to generate revenue from their portfolio should be worried about a lot of things not just the trend of using search engines by kids.

  2. Snoopy says

    “why is this bad for domainers? it may not be good for people who rely heavily on direct navigation for PPC/parking. ”

    That is probably 50% of the domain industry’s revenue.

    I think though it probably underscores an overall lower focus on domain name names which has been a trend over perhaps the last 8 years. People are not as fussed about keyword and extension and are more likely to just register something rather than buy in the aftermarket.

  3. says

    I say, GOOD.

    Advertisers (and publishers)
    Dont’ want kids clicking on ads anyways.

    A 9 year old kid that goes to

    BasketballShoes.com and clicks on an ad for
    Foot Locker, has a 0% chance to covert to a sale.

    This is wasted money for advertisers.

    Keep the kids on Google to search, and away from
    PPC pages.

    Aron

  4. says

    Well, I’m 35 and until I came into the domain industry I always used google to find things. As for kids, I have three. Ages 9, 6, and 3. All of whom use the computer heavily and I can confirm the report. The two oldest use google to find videos, images, games, facebook. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll grow up to always do that. Even now there are times when they’ll type in a url hoping to find a favorite cartoon or video character getting sometimes a parked page. All is not lost.

  5. says

    It has been common knowledge to anyone arbitraging SERP results that the highest searched terms in all engines are the busiestsite.com or just busiest site, just as the YouTube, YouTube.com example. I think this has been occurring for much longer than people realize.

    Still, if you develop even just the homepage for the KW, you will find yourself near the top if not the top of the SERP and traffic will still flow. It is a more 2-step Direct Navigation if you will.

    In the end, the game will be traffic arbitrage regardless of traffic acquisition method.

  6. says

    Mike, it’s the kids that don’t have access to PC’s growing up right now that will be the future direct navigators. Unfortunately, even in this society, that is a huge number.

  7. Johnny says

    I think that means they are amateur navigators. That may run contrary to what most of our assumed notions are about how they are all whiz kids and such, but really may mean they just have not surfed long enough to figure out it is faster to not use a search engine.

    There’s a parallel here to the old stereotype image of old person or new Internet user using Google to access the Web thinking that is they only way to a person can even surf the darn thing.

  8. BIll says

    You guys are living in a dream world if you don’t think this effects you, even if you develop sites it means less type in traffic parked or otherwise.

    And yes its better to use search bar rather then address bar for a number of reasons.

  9. Dave says

    The trend of depending on search engines to deliver the most relevant site has long been established in asia. I think the trend will expand to all other places eventually. Basically, it’s easier and more reliable to find sites (even the most established ones) using search engines. For example, ppl may not be sure if they should type it Wikipedia .COM or .NET or .ORG – why not just type in “wiki” in a search engine and let it find the right one?

  10. Francois says

    I am not astonished,

    In fact except new internet users we ALL do the same (no?).

    After few type-in tries and see one only land to links farms (parking pages) one understand he will not found any accurate information this way!

    Worst, because most popular generic terms are parked names then this bad experience is very fast to come, and unfortunately for domainers, to be corrected.

    Solutions?

    Probably develop these popular generic domains.

  11. cartoonz says

    The one thing nobody is talking about is how many people actually type in “fulldomain.com” into the search bar.

    Fortunately, the search engines see that and actually GO to that domain and not break it down to search results.

    Yes, people do that all the time. Still.
    Think about it… that is where OVT numbers came from… (with extension)

  12. says

    Not necessarily bad news for domainers, having more names for a single site increases both the type in and searched traffic. JC Penny uses JCP.com as well as Gift.com for this segment of there business. If more businesses used this same strategy it would greatly reduce the number of names available and drive prices considerably upward, which is great news for domainers.

  13. MHB says

    Cartoonz

    If you have a landing page Bing does not put it at the top or rank it anywhere on the first page, and possible not at all.

    There may come a day in the near future when Google follows suit.

    No bueno for domainers

  14. MHB says

    Richard

    There is NO scalable solution for “developing” hundreds, or thousands and certainly tens of thousand of domains in a way that make anywhere near the money that parking does.

  15. says

    Hi Mikey,

    The issue is whether those “kids” are buying — and how hard the domain industry wants to work at educating the public on name direction. Thousands of domain investors, with hundreds of thousands of domains will soon combine forces to put out “PSA’s” on finding prodservs by using name direction as opposed to SE enquiries. Call me a dreamer… or an idiot. I’ve heard both.

    I only use SE’s when I want a long term search. If I think I’m going to have to use quotes, I’ll try the domain first. However, here’s the problem… the domains we own SHOULD BE OWNED BY THE RELEVANT END USERS so that when people DO those name direction typeins, they’ll come to what they expect, instead of a landing page.

    Make sense? Type in Camera.com… will that satisfy your needs if you’re looking for camera-related articles. If so, then that user process will make sense to the user, and then enhance the value of generic domains. We need to show the end users that generic descriptive domains of their prodservs are essential for them to own if they want to establish their “marketing power” online.

    Good article…

  16. says

    I’m a domainer and using search engine instead of going direct. When I open my Google Chrome browser, it’s easy to type the world without the http:// .com anyway. This is a direct effect in parked domains because they are not search engine friendly. Whether you customize your meta tags or description.

    Best approach is develop your website.

    Cheers,
    EM

  17. MHB says

    Stephen

    The issue is not whether the kids are buying but what happens when the 15 year old becomes 20 gets a job and a credit card and is then buying.

    If they don’t type in domains now they won’t then.

    If bing which will have a 30% market share, doesn’t list parked domains at all, it doesn’t bode well for the industry.

    As we have all have seen as parking revenues decline so do industry domain auction sales. Before the decline in PPC revenues you were seeing domain auctions at TRAFFIC shows doing $10M in sales, the last one did $2M.

    So whether you park your domains or not the reduced traffic to domains, and lower PPC revenues effect all domainers.

  18. says

    I guess I’m looking at it through the eyes of someone who wants to buy domains for the purposes of development, though I still consider myself a domainer – but everything you’re saying sounds great to me. Lower prices for domains at auction makes it much more reasonable for acquisition and development. Sure, if I had a huge portfolio of premium .coms I’d consider myself a domainer, too and this news would be very upsetting. So maybe the couple of dozen domainers that have great portfolios are worried. Everyone else in the industry should be licking their chops.

  19. Johnny says

    Is anyone getting any traffic from search engines anyhow on parked pages? My percentage is less than 4% for Google, Yahoo, and Bing combined, so I never relied on any search engines to begin with. I always knew they would take the traffic from me so I always bought domains with direct navigation in mind.

    I still think that no matter how the kids surf top-tier generics can’t be ignored totally. There will always be SOME direct navigation. It’s just a matter or accumulating enough of it to where it does not matter too much what the trends in surfing habits are.

    If you owned Sex.com and it was parked, does that mean in 15 years that traffic will dwindle to almost nothing? I simply don’t think that will happen. Maybe traffic will recede, but it won’t disappear.

  20. MHB says

    Johnny

    No one is saying direct navigation traffic is going to go to zero but if it drops 20% or 50% or 75% none of that is going to be good for domainers.

    If you buy a stock a $100 a share it doesn’t have to go to zero for you to lose your shirt $5 a share is bad enough.

  21. says

    Maybe its just me but if any domainer is still buying domains with an end game to just park the domain then you are already destined to fail.

    I use the word fail to define negative growth. If your NET income is decreasing 10% a year or more consistently then your business plan SUCKS and once again, you are not a good businessman but someone who simply bought an asset with revenue which most domainers are. My grandmother could have done the same thing.

    Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to park a domain – As I’ve mentioned many times before they are many teams in this industry. The SEO and SEM teams being light years beyond most domainers – even the biggest domainers – in terms of securing a future not dependent on type in traffic. Maybe learn some SEO, start developing and join the ranks of people making real money on the web.

    Sure, many domainers have great names that earn lots on PPC but each year its gets dwindled down some more and how is this report any more of a surprise?

    Like Francois said “In fact except new internet users we ALL do the same (no?)”

    He is correct.

    As theoretical said

    “So maybe the couple of dozen domainers that have great portfolios are worried. Everyone else in the industry should be licking their chops”

    He is also correct.

    No surprise here.

  22. says

    I think youngsters are going to the app store. Otherwise there wouldn’t be billions sold and more skus in stock then the biggest Walmart. Jakob Neilsen who I consider the smartest guy on the web made Rick Schwartz-type predictions about this in 1999. One thing I always remember is that past habits have no relevance to future behavior. The whole study is here and more relevant now then it was 10 tyears ago:
    http://fragerfactor.blogspot.com/2007/08/adage-retailers-cash-in-on-college-kids.html
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/guidelines-change.html

  23. says

    A Few Things…

    1) I think there’s a lot of fear mongering going on regarding the slow death of PPC. I hope a lot of people fall for it so I can continue to pick up these gems each month. The fact of the matter is PPC is probably the most effective form of advertising ever invented. It is infinitely more effective than TV, radio, billboard, etc, etc, that advertisers have been using previously. The only thing that is close to it is PPA and that isn’t universally applical or practical for every type of business.

    2) Totally disagree with “theoretical” on the top 2 dozen domain portfolio owners needing to worry. They will only get stronger during this period. It’s the little guy who’s carrying dozens, hundreds or more domains that can’t pay for their own regfees that have to worry most.

    3) Domain valuations are not based on PPC. I would bet that 90% of the domains that sell for $2,000 and up as listed on DNJournal don’t make any money parking.

  24. Johnny says

    I’d have to agree with Tony on this one. I think a lot of people who make these anti-parking comments never got to the point where they had substantial domain portfolios and can’t see what’s on the other side of the fence…..they never scaled it.

    I’m loving this down market……it’s the most exciting thing in domaining I have seen in eight years. There have not been so many great generics dropping, or for sale on the cheap at auctions, or through individual owners in years and years.

    I’m loading up b/c when this turns around I think there will be intense demand for this traffic and parking will recover because of the scarcity of traffic. There is getting ready to be a whole bunch of new businesses coming on board. Sales of domains to end users is picking up and they have to get traffic from somewhere.

    If others like development….fine…..but I prefer a virtually maintenance free business which is what I set out to do in 1996 and have done ever since. I still think it can be done indefinitely. I’m also not into fighting others for positions in the search engines…..that’s a game you have no control in, and it’s only going to get harder from here on out……much more competition is coming.

    Nobody has to be forced into development, unless they can’t make ends meet, or buy crappy domains. For me, it’s all about how you want to live……do you want to build a skyscraper and manage tenants or do you want to take money for parking on your parking lots? Parking lots are much more relaxing. I’ve done heavy development going back to the 90’s and know both sides of this coin. I’m just heavy into it much anymore. I found a better way.

    Anyhow…. :)

  25. says

    Using a search engine like Google to find Facebook, MySpace, Youtube or any huge site is easy enough, they are always at the top of search results. But try using a search engine to locate less trafficked sites, and you’ll end up wading through lots of other stuff. The only solution is to know the url you want to get to and type it in the browser. And if people do that, you want to have an easy url for them to remember. I would think kids would stop going through search engines to get to other sites as they get older, it is an uncessary extra step. Better to bookmark the site if you visit it regularly, or just type the url into the browser. They will figure this out eventually.

  26. says

    This isn’t great news, as these kids will grow up someday and be the future adults. On the positive side, if they just use chrome where there is one box for everything and type YouTube.com into that box they will be doing direct nav.

    Think about how not just the kids, but everybody is going navigate once the new .tlds are out and we start seeing ads on tv for cheap.hotels, and hotels.cheap, cheaphotels.com, etc… people will have no choice but to search because who will know what to direct nav to anymore. Although I think the new tld’s will be bad for direct nav in general, I at least still think it will boost .com value (as people will probably only be typing in .com at that point, even though less type-ins).

  27. says

    If I want shoes, I go to Zappos. If I want Books or DVDs or music, I go to Amazon. If I want mp3s I go to iTunes. If I want restaurant reviews, I go to Yelp. If I want to travel, I go to Travelocity or Expedia. If I want to be social I go to Twitter or Facebook. If I want to be entertained I go to Hulu or Youtube. If I want to get off I go to yuvutu. The way I get to these sights vary. Sometimes direct nav, sometimes search engines. Those will always be the two ways of getting to thing and that will never change. However, how we decide which sites we go to is changing as the web becomes more social and interactive and kids become savvier than ever. Therein lies the key.

  28. says

    So at a 10,000 foot view on this, there’s two things at play:

    1] Use of search engines as opposed to direct navigation and that use of domain names : is this accurate for all age demographics

    I run across this frequently as an objection to new top level domains, and candidly, while it is relevant that folks navigate to find what they need using Yahoo, Google, Bing or whatever, they make decisions on what to click based upon the relevance of what they see. The Domain Name and overall URL are an integral part of that process. The right domain name plays a very significant role in effecting the trust of the link. Positively impacting the psychology of the potential visitor is a very key element of search marketing. The Domain Name is VERY IMPORTANT.

    2] The trend of migration away from using direct nav in the newer generations of internet users, that this trends away from domains’ current significance in daily internet use in the future.

    As I describe above, even if the trend is veering away from direct nav by habit or it is being corralled by “nannyware”, the fundamental thing to recognize is that there IS a positive effect on the potential visitor from the domain name. With the upcoming things like IPV6 and DNSSEC being implemented, Domain Names remain relevant and important.

  29. gg says

    I’ve been noticing this disturbing trend for awhile now, and it’s not just kids, young adults are doing it as well.

    Kids are lazy and they’re typing the url into Google because to them it IS easier. It’s easier because they don’t have to type the http: or the .com if they don’t want to, and they don’t even have to spell it correctly because Google always manages bring up the right URL somewhere on the first page which they now merely have to click on. Clicking is easier than typing.

    Another reason is that Google has become so familiar to them that they don’t even know are forget that they can type a URL right into the address bar. It amazes me how many kids don’t even know you can do that.

    On my last laptop the customized web browser had an address bar that was a gray color and it really looked like a read-only sort of thing, whereas the search box was an inviting bright white color. This sort of thing is another reason why people are using the search box more than ever.

  30. gg says

    The sentence “…always manages bring…” should read “…always manages TO bring…” and the sentence “…don’t even know are forget…” should read “…don’t even know OR forget…”

  31. .h2o. says

    “If others like development….fine…..but I prefer a virtually maintenance free business which is what I set out to do in 1996 and have done ever since.”

    It looks like domainers, especially old ones, are still living in their dream world. They continue to pray for a new stream of “dumb or inexperienced” people have this frame of mind:

    “I want a car. I want to search for one online. I think I’m going to cars.com.”

    That might work now while the clash of the generations is occurring. Many older folks are afraid of technology. But in five years, this will not be a sustainable business model. A parked page is of little or no value to the Internet user.

  32. says

    I also run a IT company in San Diego where I help home users and small business with their computers, service, repair, networking, etc….

    Anyway, from what I’ve seen 9/10 of my clients all type everything into the google search box. Often I try to talk people over the phone to go to ShowMyPc.com so I can log into their computer remotely. The first thing I tell them to do is open their web browser and go to ShowMyPc.com. The next thing I ask them is to start reading me what they have on the screen from top to bottom so I can guide them what to click on. 9/10 times what they read to me is “Show My PC: Remote Support, Instant Desktop Sharing, Web…”, which is you’ve guessed it, the 1st search result in google when you enter ShowMyPc.com in the search box. So I just have them click on that to get to the actual web page for ShowMyPc.com, it would be almost impossible to explain to them how to do it otherwise.

    1/10 lucky customers is smart enough to actually know how to use the address bar and then the 1st thing the read back to me is “Show My PC To Remote User”. My numbers are probably a little skewed because the smart ones that know how to use computers generally don’t call me, but nonetheless this is my experienc with end users, and has been generally the same for 10+ years.

  33. FX says

    MHB, IMO opinion the study is dead on.
    The other thing that no one ever talks about it is how much harder it has gotten to type stuff into your address bar as compared to a search box on a google toolbar. I need 1 click to type stuff into google toolbar search box. At times i needs 3+ clicks to get to a point where i need to type in the address into an address bar. All those little things do matter. Also a good point about domains and bing.com, no traffic. Yahoo has been very friendly with domainers and parked pages.

  34. MHB says

    Larry

    Interesting story.

    Kids have grown up in an era of free information 24/7 on the net.

    They have never read a newspaper on a regular basis and never had to pay for the news they care about.

    Its going to be tough to convert them.

  35. Snoopy says

    “If others like development….fine…..but I prefer a virtually maintenance free business which is what I set out to do in 1996 and have done ever since. ………………. For me, it’s all about how you want to live……do you want to build a skyscraper and manage tenants or do you want to take money for parking on your parking lots? Parking lots are much more relaxing. I’ve done heavy development going back to the 90’s and know both sides of this coin. I’m just heavy into it much anymore. I found a better way.”

    These are very important points, development is something that really doesn’t scale. If parking does die completely, which I personally doubt but don’t disregard entirely either, then development is no substitute, it is hard work as opposed to passive income. Of course the value of passive income is much more valuable than profits from developed domains. People will be working far harder, for less money, building up an asset that is worth a much lower multiple of earnings in my view. Whatever happens happens and if parking dies I doubt anyone from outside this industry will shed a tear, personally though I think if it did happen the industry would be far less profitable overall than today. It will lower he value of all domains in my view, not just names with traffic.

  36. says

    The study makes sense.

    Watching my kids search, they type fast and make plenty of mistakes. The URL address bar is not very efficient, nor a productive use of limited resources (i.e., time and attention) for those prone to typos. Type the wrong address and you’ve wasted 100% of your effort (not to mention the annoyance of navigating away from a typo site).

    Enter the same typo in the Google search bar and Google takes care of the rest:

    You enter: “Fafebook”

    Google says: “Did you mean: facebook?”

    It’s self correcting. What could be easier? As if that wasn’t enough, the first returned result is this: “Welcome to Facebook!” So, one way or another, Google’s going to get you to your intended target.

    Nobody going to take on extra work when someone else will gladly do the heavy lifting. Don’t forget, this is our kids we’re talking about!

  37. says

    This vulnerability of direct navigation to changing habits and search engine developments has been the ticking timebomb for direct navigation and PPC. It was, to some extent, being discussed at least as far back as 2007. This comment thread on Frank Schilling’s blog seems unnerving in places given recent events.

    http://www.sevenmile.com/2007-05/google-yahoo-and-domains/

    The big battle over PPC and direct navigation will now be between Google and Microsoft. The typo checking on Google when searching for a website will effectively nuke typo traffic when people search through the search engine and Google has an 80 to 90% share of the search market in some countries. Another interesting aspect is that the default home page for Firefox is actually Google’s search page. The Google search box is right in the hotzone of the user’s screen. Microsoft’s IE default homepage is Microsoft’s portal type page from what I remember. How many users would even bother to change their browser’s default homepage? How many users would even know how?

  38. says

    There is a catch 22 in all of this. Traffic domainers on one side of the fence and ad agencies on the other side. Ad agencies want branded names, not generic keyword names. This battle has been going on now for quite a few years. It has been called ” The battle of Eyeballs ” and the Search engines are winning. To think otherwise is simply going against hard figures.

    People are looking for professional sites that deliver full service, and holding pages frustrate consumers in general. A case in point when was the last time any of us bookmarked a holding page site ? Generally people bookmark sites they feel are valuable.

    Professional development of generic keyword sites can and will turn the tide.

  39. Snoopy says

    “Ad agencies want branded names, not generic keyword names.”

    This doesn’t really ring true, a large % of what is sold to enduser is still keyword names. They use both.

    “A case in point when was the last time any of us bookmarked a holding page site ? Generally people bookmark sites they feel are valuable.”

    The value lies in site found via the next click on, that is the site people may bookmark. Expecting people to bookmark a PPC page is a bit like expecting people to tell their friends about about page 589 in the yellow pages, or expecting consumers to bookmark google results. They’ll want to go back to the company they find listed, not the listings themselves.

  40. Cartoonz says

    “Ad agencies want branded names, not generic keyword names.”

    Rubbish. Ad agencies know full well that a generic domain that passes the Radio test, the Telephone Test, and the Billboard Test is an incredible marketing tool.

    For marketing purposes, it has far less to do with bookmarking on the web… it is about actually bookmarking in the user’s head. That happens before the user even gets to the computer… he hears or sees an ad for some particular “service/product/brand” and then is shown, either audibly or visually, the perfect generic URL – one that is the obvious descriptor to the entire vertical of whatever the “service/product/brand” is. That user will remember that domain. He will associate it with that “service/product/brand” later on when he goes to it later on to respond to the ad.

    Unlike the SEO guys’ mantra of domains not making a difference, using kitschy domains like gibblefarb.com and doing branding / SEO and the like on that to build a search engine presence, a real Ad Exec will be looking at the big marketing picture… and that is the one that draws the user TO the web in the first place with the express intent to go directly to the simple, easy to remember, perfectly descriptive domain that was used in the offline ads.

    This is not the best example but… do you think immediately of Calvin Klein when you think of underwear? Probably not. Yet, guess who owns that domain?

  41. Snoopy says

    “Unlike the SEO guys’ mantra of domains not making a difference”

    From what I have seen of it (mainly from SEO discussion forums) alot of SEO people do see the domain as important, I would say more than half. Those using gibblefarb.com are a mixture of different types of people in my view,

    -Those who can’t afford a really popular keyword domain.
    -Those who think think bradability is more important than search engine benefits (I can understand that point of view) which is more the marketing point of view rather than the SEO point of view.
    -Lastly those who think a popular keyword term gives no benefit (minority)

    I think in the last few years it has become more undeniable that keywords in the domain does give a small boost.

  42. says

    The hard fact is that until more keyword addresses are developed into professional sites, the stigma of going to a holding page remains intact. Mean while the SEO people continue to work with branded professional sites backed by advertisers and their agencies. Just an observation, don’t take this personal.

  43. Cartoonz says

    The Polar ice is melting, too Jeff… don’t take it personal.

    you make a valid statement but it has nothing to do with Ad Agencies. Obviously, you have a stigma against parking, and that is ok. I see exactly where you are coming from with that, I really do. But it is pointless to keep trying to marry that viewpoint to a completely separate discussion, don’t you think? When you insist on the viewpoint that if an ad agency works with an SEO, they automatically do not view the value of a generic domain… that means it has got under your skin, not ours… because in my example above… it has nothing to do with the web at all… so SEO has no part of the equation.

    Next, you’ll be telling me that Ad Agencies look to SEO’s to design billboards, magazine slicks, radio, and TV spots too… right?

    When it becomes apples/oranges you lose credibility altogether. Just an observation. Don’t take it personal.

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