ReadWriteWeb.com is letting the world in on a secret, mainstream users can’t find the address bar. If you’ve ever done over the phone tech support you know this is true. They end up typing into a search engine, or a search engine bar, or into some piece of foul malware that wiggled into their browser. They will type anywhere but in the address bar.
What made ReadWriteWeb notice this trend was a report by Hitwise that showed more than 10% of the searches for the top 10 dating search terms were URLs like match.com and plentyoffish.com and almost all of the queries were something that .com could have been added to for direct navigation.
For competitors this isn’t such a bad thing. If you buy into Adwords your site can come up on a search for a competitor. For instance, type eHarmony on Google and the sponsor links come up with Match.com and LoveandSeek.com. Of course had they just tagged on the .com onto eHarmony in their address bar they would have gone straight there and never saw the links for the other sites.
Is it a bad thing for users? Not really. I make plenty of fat fingered typos and I hate landing on some misspelled domain that is brimming with malware. You avoid that altogether by searching. It is also human nature to take shortcuts. Users know they’ll get there whether they add the .com or not.
It’s not so hot for the companies that shelled out big bucks for the domain name. Domain names haven’t worked so hot since they came out and squatters snatched up as many as they could to sit on waiting for a huge offer. It’s led to some creative names for companies that desperately wanted their domain name to match their company name however.