Google Testing A Version of Chrome that hides the URL

Venture Beat covered a story today that will peak the interest of domain investors.

Do we still need the URL — that gangly collection of slashes and gobbledygook? A new experimental version of the Google Chrome browser says no.

Chrome Canary, like the legendary canary lowered into mines to early-detect dangerous gases, is a leading-edge version of the Chrome browser. Google uses it to test out ideas, and one idea in the new Chrome 36 version of Canary is to bury the full URL into the top-level domain name. Even navigating within the site shows only the site name.

Read the full article here

Now this looks to be more about hiding the ugly string after the TLD, now how this will all plays out remains to be seen. Personally I like seeing the URL, to check out exactly where I am on the site and to check for nefarious things like phishing.

When only the top-level domain is showing in Canary’s Omnibox, you can still see the full URL by clicking the “origin chip” button – that is, on the domain name itself. (The button becomes enabled only by typing chrome://flags/#origin-chip-in-omnibox into the Canary Omnibox.). Clicking on the domain allows you to edit it.


  1. Joseph Peterson says

    Off the top of my head, I think such a change would be beneficial.

    We’d still have the option to view the full URL., which ives a lot of important information. Sometimes navigating within a website by editing the URL is actually easier than clicking around. But most people see URLs as tech gibberish. To many, the domain is just a chunk of that arbitrary string; and they even call domains “URLs”. So any domain will do.

    Better to cleanly separate the domain name from the rest, since it’s crucial for security and matters for branding. This change (if implemented) should help consumers monitor for phishing. And it will emphasize the domain name more, causing consumers to become more domain-conscious. That benefits brands with memorable names as well as domain investors.

    Am I missing some drawback?

  2. says

    If I have a TV / remote which allows me to change the channel but doesn’t identify what channel I am on, if I like a program how do return to that programming next time it airs? Maybe I need some way to identify the channel. So then the question is do we really need Google if they no longer provide the content I am searching for?

    • says

      TV is already like that. when im watching the channel i cant see the number, but if i want to see it i just pick up the remote.

      this is the same exact thing you silly goose.

      • vanderhorst says

        You would have to be a REAL sucker to think that the Internet is like TV with limited stations. There are Billions of “TV Stations” called websites and Billions of “Channels” called urls/domain names. Only a narrow-minded dummy would blindly accept the Garbage of “Top Channels” from Google’s garbage algorithms. I will input Domain Names until the day I die based upon the branding and advertising that you will NEVER find on Google’s Crap Engine(s) results ….

  3. says

    @Joseph Peterson:
    you continue to post brilliant insights regularly.

    By abbreviating the URLs to only the root plus TLD (ex., Google eliminates the value in the practice of “keyword stuffing” URLs. Keyword domains will still have power in the info they display to searchers (probably enhanced).

    Google has researched/toyed with the domain info in SERP snippets for years. Years ago the URL appeared on the last line of the SERP snippet in “hyperlink blue” color; now it appears on just below the title line in dark green… and also often is seeded into the end of the title line (in PPC ads). Google has reported that their research demonstrates that the domain name influences click-behavior.

    I agree with Joseph Peterson: this new Chrome treatment will better spotlight the domain name as the focal point of URLs.

  4. says

    I disagree with Mr. Peterson. We have to take motive into consideration. Where are the public complaints stating that seeing a URL makes their lives miserable? Of the problems confronting human beings, is latent URL more important than World Hunger? A tech company should be preoccupied with advancing human fate, than tinkering with internet protocol.

    Let’s be clear, the internet is nobody’s domain, it belongs to all of us, and search is a critical part of this. Constantly tweaking human behavior to corner the internet is against the spirit of its founding. Google did NOT invent the internet, I hope all agree with that. It can NEVER be their property. So, they should live, and let live.

    I was tempted to accuse Mr. Peterson of compensating for his critical remarks against Google yesterday; it’s a scary thing to make negative comments against Google, but my gosh, so soon?

    • Joseph Peterson says


      You’re free to disagree, and I may (as always) be wrong.

      Yes, Google is a dangerous near-monopoly. Much of what the company does is harmful to society at large. But it’s also true that most of us use Google because we’ve found it effective — however nefarious may be that efficacy. Tweaks to their website and browser will have repercussions. Sometimes they’ll be devious power grabs, and sometimes they’ll simply represent advances over old models. Even those of us who are wary of Google must allow for the possibility that they’ll sometimes offer improvements that benefit most people.

      Most of the people I know would look at this page’s URL and derive no information from it whatsoever, apart from what’s on the very left:

      Less is more. If someone less tech-savvy were shown just the domain, rather than a domain buried inside a URL, then they’d quickly become more attuned to domains in general:

      It’s much easier to pass of a phishing scheme by surreptitiously altering a domain within a long cumbersome URL than it would be when the domain appears exposed, standing alone. Compare:

      I think we need to evaluate changes like this in terms of concrete pros and cons — the way they’ll affect us — regardless of our cynicism about Google’s long-term agenda.

      • says

        @Joseph Peterson,

        I commend you for taking the time to add clarity to your earlier post.

        That did not alley my concern on this particular issue, however. There are is result or effect of an action or condition, sometimes known as consequences.

        There’s nothing innovative about shortening domains, and URLs, The public know of We’ve all used it, yet nobody will serious suggest that it should be the default for our web browsing.

        Secondly, the simplification of URLs, and Domain Names, by eliminating the http://www (Yes, there was a time most of those were mandatory to surf), it invited large corporations to covet domain names that do not belong to them, in the name of trademarks; if URLS were full like they used to be, it will be much more difficult for a trademark holder of, say American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), to say with a straight face that they are entitled to http:// www. ABC .com/ (I spaced this to avoid a link).

        So there are repercussions; there has been some ramifications. We’ve experience corollary, concomitant, aftermath, aftereffect of this type of genius.

        Therefore, it’s proper to ask for importance or relevance. I don’t see why we need this.

        • ymerej says

          The “www” was only ever required if the hostname of the web server was “www” (which it almost always was but was never required to be). The “http://” (forward-slash forward-slash) told early browsers which protocol you were requesting since ftp, usenet, gopher, finger, telnet and many others were in wide use until the versatility of hypertext eclipsed them.

    • says

      Yo, where have you been?

      When you were going to school, and the teacher gave you a problem to solve, did you avoid solving it by saying what it is not? Because, most of your comments are always attacking the personality, and not their points.

      If the teacher asked:

      What is 2 + 2?

      You, ontheinterweb, more than likely said, “that is ridiculous”, or at best you said “it’s not 69”. The teacher wants to know the answer. Next time, try to give us your take on these issues. Answer 4, and be done with it. You sound ridiculous when you try to point out the ridiculous.

      • says

        dude, your arguments arnt valid or worth disputing when you insert things like “is it more important than world hunger?”

        what was that supposed to mean? that google should be solving world hunger because thats a higher priority? its such a leap in logic and something a 12 year old would come up with.

        do you use this sort of reasoning for everything? i.e. getting pulled over by the cops for speeding you say, “well, you could be off catching murderers and thieves instead of writing me a ticket.”

        its the logic of a 12 year old. google shouldnt try different things because of world hunger… allllllrighty

        • says

          That part of a comment is known as rhetorical question, or in some cases a joke; it is not the main concern. You should try to identify the gist of both a post, and the comment and deal with that. I detect some intelligence in your comments, but they are misapplied.

          Wise up.

  5. cmac says

    this could be even better for domains, showcasing the domain only instead of the whole url string. though i don’t really see any benefit in it for the user.

  6. says

    Could this be the end of domain names all together? What’s to stop Google from taking out the extension, then the long terrible domain name, and just putting the company’s name in the url?

  7. Joseph Peterson says

    Google is not the internet. Just a handful of websites, a browser, and an advertising network. Plus lobbyists and lawyers and enough cash to buy up most competitors.

    What stops Google from abolishing domain names on their websites or in their browser? Nothing, really. But other websites with branded domains are still out there in great numbers. And people who visit those websites in even greater numbers. Nothing stops them from using direct navigation to bypass the Google toll booth.

    Obviously direct navigation goes against the interests of Google, since they cannot make money unless they place themselves BETWEEN you and the content / information you want. So, of course, Google is shaping people’s habits in such a way that Google becomes synonymous with the internet. That way, Google can be the starting point and medium through which people surf the web.

    Naturally Google would like to obliterate domains as a competing navigation method. But they’re more likely to do this in a different way.

    Eventually, I’d expect Google to substitute its own proprietary domain name mapping for existing privately owned domains. They could, for example, operate .WEB in a pseudo-public way, giving .WEB domains away for free much like Twitter handles or Facebook user names. Then Google could announce some day that ONLY such .WEB addresses will be displayed in Goolge SERPS or allowed in Chrome. By that stage, Google will have pretty much all websites by the balls, so to speak.

    At least, if I were a power-hungry company with no serious opposition, that’s how I’d proceed.

    • says

      @Joseph Peterson,

      Great post.

      Google, however does not have the Midas touch. They’e failed in many things before. They’ve succeed in really one or two things.

      They’ve tried giving away domain names for free. That did not stop people from buying and selling quality domains. They’ve pulled the rug under domain and website professionals, and that didn’t deter the willing.

      Oh, they also failed in the social media.

      So, my thinking is that, they will eventually come around to embracing the spirit of free, fair commerce; let others prosper too.

      • Joseph Peterson says

        Hope so. Whatever Google might try, I do think they’ll fail to become a true monopoly. Human beings are too slippery to be caught.

  8. says

    A succinct overview JP.
    Monopoly or Democracy? by Ted Turner May 30, 2003 by Washington Post. ( / Justice Hugo Black wrote in a 1945 opinion ” The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public.
    ” IMO for such a new company in a new age Google are as good as one can expect.

  9. says

    Well – it is obvious: That’s the first step in trying to get rid of domain names altogether!

    And do I need the URL? Well – that’s kind of my own decision; and one that varies from website to website, doesn’t it? Do I just want to see “” – or do I want to see “”?

    But an elegant way to eliminate the disturbance that the “gangly collection of slashes and gobbledygook” creates would be highlighting the domain and grey-scale the rest. Like Firefox does already – just a bit stronger.

  10. impulse says

    Very interesting discussion. My thoughts are that people may be reading more into this change than it really means. It could just be about user experience in the browser), and have nothing at all to do with Google’s attitude or plans toward domains or the SEO value of full URLs. I would guess that 95% of the public gets nothing out of looking at the full URL, and most people probably don’t even look at it or process it (this is especially true on a mobile device), so our views may not be typical of the general public on this matter.

  11. says

    The address bar got hijacked by search engines years ago. Direct Nav used to own that space. Google is just trying to turn it off completely.

    It is supposed to be the Address bar so you can see where you are on the web and use it to direct navigate to a web site. I use it to verify location and ownership of the web site I am vireing.

    That gets in the way of Google’s mission to own the browser and the user.

  12. says

    Just to elaborate a little…. The address box to consumers is also a “search” box. Browser address boxes were connected to a “search engine of your choice” in the setup options years ago. Most people take the default search engine assigned to the address box. That is a substantial portion of the Internet doing the default search setup so that option is very valuable to whomever can claim the “default” position.
    IE default search = Bing so why not Google being the default for Chrome? In fact, it is in both of those companies advantage to eliminate the address box. Viola. It will be interesting to see how browsers not owned by search companies will fare.

  13. Bob49 says

    Just revamped website “Domains Feast” ( with all-important addition of new hidden URL features for domain names.

  14. says

    Studied it for a while… It sure cleans up that area of the browser and makes it easy to see where you are. They get a 10 from me for making it look better.

  15. says

    Hello Joseph Peterson says

    Make no mistake about it, this is a cold calculated move by GOOGLE, to block Access to all Domain holders Addresses. OCCAM’S RAZOR

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  16. says

    Hello impulse says
    R. E. = ” Very interesting discussion. My thoughts are that people may be reading more into this change than it really means. It could just be about user experience in the browser), and have nothing at all to do with Google’s attitude or plans toward domains or the SEO value of full URLs. I would guess that 95% of the public gets nothing out of looking at the full URL, and most people probably don’t even look at it or process it (this is especially true on a mobile device), so our views may not be typical of the general public on this matter. ”

    First off Impulse says, who do you represent ??

    Who writes your paychecks?

    Why are you not letting us know your origin and your AGENDA

    No matter your answer, you obviously want to subvert the DNSs Nuetrality, Why whats in it for you?

    We are expecting that you are not identifiable in any way so whats your Agenda ?

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  17. says

    Hello Joseph Peterson,

    You often come up with very astute comments, but your latest Announcement that this first of many calculated moves by Google is OK ? What is the next planned move they are calculatingly planning that you are aware of ?? Its much annalogous to what Googles next Algorithm strategy will be to maintain their Monopolistic Grip ?? If you know what these domino moves are and their effects you are an oracle ??

    ( Think Outside The GOOGLE MATRIX )

    Could it quite possibly be a planned systematic approach to subvert the Domain Name Systems Hierarchy NUETRALITY ?? JAS 4/14/15

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal tiger)

  18. says

    Hello Joseph Petrson,
    REALLY ?
    R. E. = ” Hope so. Whatever Google might try, I do think they’ll fail to become a true monopoly. Human beings are too slippery to be caught. ”

    What makes you think Google is not already a monopoly ?

    The Eu is choking on GOOGLES Monopolistic Grip, and others are aware of their Monopoly and you are obviously an educated person who is choosing to deny the facts??? Whats up with that?? JAS 4/14/15

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  19. says

    Hello MHB, Ray,Jamie,

    GOOGLE, Small Business’s Largest Predatory Threat, to Online Business Expansion. JAS4/6/15155

    GOOGLE, Small Business’s Largest Predatory Threat, to Online Business Expansion.

    Search Engine Marketing, is only a futile attempt to control and mitigate maximum Online Business Expansion on a Global Basis. Its concept is to Dilute corporate Brands drawing power and to control access to online businesses, so as to charge exorbitant fees as a gatekeeper with manipulative codes blocking the pathway to Online Businesses. Sound Sinister ? Yes , Is it going to be allowed forever ? NO

    All Domain Name System Hierarchy Extension owners. Make no Mistake about it that the real threat to DNS Hierarchy comes from Googles assault to destabilize the whole DNSs Nuetrality, through deceptive Anti-competitive Digital Code Manipulation within their Monopolistic Garden Maze of twisted Digital code designed to mitigate and block the finding of Online companies according to fair and free market standards.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  20. says

    Jeff – As far as I know, this is not about Google is not hiding the domain name, just directory part of it (like it would show instead of ). So, that should not have an impact on the domain name market (or on DNS). Also, this all happened a year ago, yet nothing has changed. Mobile devices are a far bigger threat in this area, since on my iPhone for example I can’t see the full URL and many mobile users don’t even notice what domain name they are on anymore.

    As for who I am, I am a big .com domain owner and hate the idea of domains losing their value. I do not work for anyone or represent anyone, and never have. I am about as independent as you can get in the domain industry. Google me if you don’t believe me.

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