Users Type Domain Names Straight into Google

Anybody who spends any time with web analytics knows this fact, but I thought I’d highlight a real world example. Three years ago I wrote about a sort of money-tracking website (I’m reluctant to name it here, for fear of Heisenberging the search results further). I’m referring here to the Canadian site–not the American one shown above.

Three years later, there are 181 comments on that post, mostly from people providing the details–their location, the bill’s serial number–of a particular bill. Lately the reports have been coming in at a rate of nearly one per day.

Why’s that? Because if you search for the money tracking website, my blog post is the first result. It’s kind of weird, like the website doesn’t really exist in Google at all.

Clearly the folks visiting my site aren’t entering the URL on their money into the address bar–they’re searching in Google. It seems peculiar to web veterans, but it’s really not. They’re trying to find something, after all. And where do you go to find something? A search engine. They just don’t seem to conceive that the www address means that they’ve already found it.

Hmm…today’s posts have been particularly navel-gazing. I’ll do better tomorrow.


  1. I do this purely out of muscle memory sometimes. I’m so used to clicking on the Google box in Firefox that I’ve clicked on it and started typing the url before I realize my mistake, at which point it’s easier to just hit return and click through to the site.

  2. As someone who did front line support 10 years ago… that’s nothing new. 🙂 I’ve had customers complaining that their sites weren’t up, because they weren’t listed in popular-search-engine-of-the-day. Convincing them that they had to use the address bar to see their websites was occasionally tricky…

  3. I have watched many people do this. I have tried to correct them, saying, “Just type it into the address bar,” but get only blank looks in return. Even if I show them (family members, for example), they will forget almost immediately and revert to searching urls. It hurts my brain, but I do understand that not everyone is as immersed in web culture as I am.

  4. rofl

    Yes I’ve witnessed older family members and coworkers do the same thing. Isn’t it kind of like typing someone’s phone number into the search field of a phone in order to call them? Two steps? Ah well. The younger generation will be laughing at us one day.

  5. Apparently, some people use that method to get around blocks at their workplaces. But of the 75 or so people that type my URL (or my name, since it is my URL) into Google every day, I doubt that’s really an issue for most of them.

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