LONG ISLAND, NY – Ten or twenty years ago, if you wanted to find information a search engine such as Yahoo would allow you to simply type-in what you were looking for, and countless websites would appear with information related to your search. Sometimes, ugly websites would appear that had keyword-stuffed their pages with the search string, but often you would be able to find what you were looking for within a few clicks around; and your answer was always on a website or web page of some kind.
Today, you have a variety of sources to find the information you’re looking for – and the amount of clicks it takes to find things is decreasing significantly.
Today, you might not need a search engine; you can use an app on your mobile phone. You could also try a voice command on a product such as Amazon’s “Alexa”, iPhone’s “Siri” or some other voice activated answer system. Last but certainly not least, just as you always have in the past, you could ask a search engine.
As far as using a search engine, a significant change to be noted is that you will find what you are looking for with fewer and fewer clicks… Often times a search engine will answer your question, without having you click to anything else at all; it won’t bring you to a website; the answer will be right there on the search page. I talked about the growing frequency of these knowledge graphs in a previous article about a month ago, so I won’t rehash the entire thing here, but I’d like to talk about another example of how websites continue to lose more and more traffic to search engines.
For example, I wanted to find-out what time Red Robbin was open till at a location near me. All I needed to do was type in “Red Robin 11704” and I have the answer I am looking for right there on the search result page. A beautiful Google Maps listing has the locations images, business hours, address, reviews and more right there within my single search. This is great, because it is super easy for me as an end-user of Google; but along the left are fantastic resources that decrease in value to me as a user.
I did not need to look at the location page on their website RedRobin.com; I did not need to visit Yelp.com despite all the effort that has probably been put into the page to make it great and rank so well; I also did not need to go to the YellowPages.com which is listed high in the search results.
RedRobin.com, Yelp.com and YellowPages.com would all be fantastic results for my web search, but I just did not need to visit them at all. They are worthless to me in my objective to find out what the business hours are for the store I want to visit. Keyword: Worthless.
I have to admit that this is somewhat scary as a website owner and domain investor. This is where all the traffic is going which results in sites missing out on more and more traffic.
As Google and other similar tools become smarter and better equipped to answer the questions we all ask in an instant, the less we will need to use websites to find information. We will become accustomed to the answers being available in a split-second simply by asking.
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®
The more sources and ways to search, the more expensive it is for businesses to compete, and domains become more important as they are the equalizer. Been here 20 years ago and heard then domains would not be here today. I bet 20 yrs from now .com will still rule. More things change more they stay the same.
John Colascione says
I hope you at 100% correct, just for the record.
I also read the same 15 years ago! Old news.
Graham Haynes says
That’s exactly what I thought. Heard the same twenty years ago and for the same reason search engines.
We all need an address an email. Shorter the more memorable the better.
Domains are like phone numbers or TV channels.
I see it the other way around. As TV’s came into every room in a household, we needed more channels and choices.
As telephones and cell phones became ubiquitous, we needed more phone numbers.
As internet grows, there will be more of a need for domains.
Even though we might have other options for interacting with our devices, everyone is going to need their own distinct address for us to find them. I don’t see any better options on the horizon for a distinct one of a kind way to connect your business to the world than domain names.
It may be more convenient now to call someone in your address book or do a search with voice commands, but we still need a phone number to connect to them.
There is no email without a domain name, and email (with 90-96% uptake globally) is the cornerstone of all website verification. So next time Alexa tells you: “ok, I just sent you an email…” rest easy knowing domain names will still be visible and relevant in 30 years. But by then they will be far less likely to be a .com or net or org than they were 5 years ago.
Raymond Chai says
You must need domain names for your internet address.
Our world is now heavily online and domain names are inseparable from branding and businesses…..you need a domain name to support your business for a long time…..
Google is great for those quick, simplistic answers; restaurant times, the phone number of a local store, how many inches to a foot, etc. When it comes to online stores where you browse goods, or any branded, functional site, domains will still rule. Google can only do so much in-house before they run foul of competition laws. Domains will still play a big role in customer trust and marketing, and will remain important for returning customers who want to navigate directly.
Voice recognition is another touted threat to domains, but the technology has been around for 15-20 years. No one wants to talk to their computer. It’s often not convenient, polite, or secure to do so. Even if the technology improves, do we trust voice recognition to complete a transaction correctly?
John Colascione says
Imagine a day when your website is only used to export your inventory to Google shopping or Amazon. I could see it. All Google would need to do is import more and more product results on the first page of Google and ask website owners to get your feed in, or see you later. Site owners would all scramble to include their feeds even faster than they do now; they would have no choice.
Big Hands Johannessen says
You can do absolutely nothing on the internet without a domain, even using an app. An app uses an IP which is a address which is also essentially a domain. The Internet was constructed around DNS.
I have to say that I think Google is not as good a search engine is it was 10 years ago. Try to find your answer other than looking for the time a restaurant opens or closes, a geo-search basically, and you will have to wait 3 more ship now than he did 10 years ago. Google even has taken over the entire page above the fold.
It’s been my prediction for a few years now that the entire 1st page will be advertisements here soon on any commercial search.
Search has gotten much worse, not better. There were many directories around 2006 that did a much better job in Google ever did or is doing now, but Google make sure that most directories were removed from their index which killed off the directory model for many companies.
Search sucks compared to the old days, so I think domain names are more relevant now. I also agree with some of the other points the other posters made about a domain being needed more now than ever because of competition.
John Colascione says
You’re right. Google’s ultimate objective is to have a full first page of results which are ads. The average users can’t easily tell the difference anymore since the ads are no longer colored and sport only a small tiny ‘ad’ icon to the left. Google wants the ads to be as helpful as any ordinary search result, and with quality scores and such, they’ll get there. People won’t care its an ad; so long as it is exactly what they’re searching for. Google will then accomplish its mission of an entire first page of ads. Additionally, you will notice that asking a question of Google will generally show a snippet of information, with its answer bolded and taken from a web page somewhere. Google is just taking the information it needs in small fair use amounts, and answering the users question; so the websites that exist are feeding Google the information it needs, and Google answers the question.
Frank Carson says
Time for a new Google. The people deserve a search engine that doesn’t spend billions to squash technology, that doesn’t trade political favors to avoid anti-trust penalties for search engine manipulation to try and further enhance their wall street gain, and that doesn’t integrate itself at every level into national security policies run by the most self-interested, sold out, corrupt politicians we’ve known since the time of Rome. They taint most things they touch, over half their revenue is driven by fraudulent clicks, and even with all the money in the world they run around looking to integrate more ads into everything, not thinking philanthropically for the good of anyone. This is a group who in their desire to capitalize on non-working mobile phone ads have almost tanked large screen convergence applications, harming everyone in their way with their magic brush. If you have all the money you could ever hope for, and your idea is to wake up and grab YouTube so you can saturate it with ads, time to find a new hobby. They are the great ruiner, the manipulator of all businesses, and in their greed are taking hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy while destroying the routes to visibility that hundreds of thousands of companies have past relied upon. The irony is, it would take very little to disrupt them, especially with the right ad campaigns for public migration. $50m investment into a new search engine yields a $100bn company, even as a fraction of what Google’s corruption and internal interest alignment has yielded. Instead they play weight ranking games to intentionally reduce helpfulness and visibility to their fullest capacity, all to maximize their private airplane purchases at the detriment of 60 million US consumers.
Fisrt , Would BBC or CNN disappear because you have news in first page of Google or Yahoo site ? OR would they loss traffic ?
Secaond , Would they dumb their domain name ? and shift to voice activated answer system
Joe Ray says
The future is not scary to me as a domain investor and Google is exactly why you need a good web address, Google will only be showing results of paid advertisers in the future and as it is now it’s hard to find some locally owned businesses using google.
If you own a restaurant you need a web site so people can see your menu and tell other people about it. You don’t need google, yelp or trip advisor for that. A web site is like a phone number and phone book all rolled into one and will be around for a long time to come, the webs not going anywhere and domain names are the perfect way to accesses it.
Phone numbers have been around for 100 plus years and will be for many years to come. I can still remember the number of the cab company in the town I lived in 40 years ago it was 734-5000 and it still is today. If we don’t need web addresses how would we get to Google.com?
Search engines grab your content for nothing and place you where they want.
If Red Robins wants you in their website, it is very simple. They can block, or limit, search engines with an easy robots.txt command, and all you have to do is type redrobin.com to find out where and when and what’s on special. They can also improve and make their homepage super easy to navigate, just like Google does.
Search engines take advantage and become mega rich from our laziness. If in 2017 you still need to rely on Google to be found, you are SOL anyhow. How much money did you make last year from people finding you on Google? And how many hours and sleepless nights did you spend on SEO? Exactly.
Can’t agree more. People think the internet is Google and they forget that Google is just another website and they can’t exist without a DOMAIN.
Dave Villacreses says
I see you are focusing only on the use that domain names and websites have when it comes to search and finding information, well Google.com (website and domain) is already quite good on that. Frankly I can’t recall any apps widely used to look up for information on every possible field like Google already does since you state people are using apps to look up for information, this is still developing and not many start ups are willing to go and compete on those wide fields against big G.
I do know in the other hand that most decent Brands own websites, apps, fan pages and more to reach their audiences and this is not showing any signs of decline at this time. You are also forgetting about direct search and direct typing which is a very common way for people to fin brands and products,
Also you input an specific number 10 to 20 years, how sure are you about such bold statement, any statistics or well grounded info to share? I guess you title is way too bold and based on assumptions while at the same time you are focusing way too much on how Google works nowadays. In 20 years time I believe we will pretty sure have the same big brands leading everybody to any direction the technology goes.
At the same time some assets like GOOD domains (Think of CASINO.COM) will have surely widely “Appraised” in value and will be strong assets that big Brands more than never before, will certainly hold and recall as their valuable properties, that many acquired, own and I believe are not willing to let go for a new waves reaching the bay.
Keep in mind that from what we have seen waves of change happen every 10 to 15 years in the Internet world. I just do not see Toyota, CocaCola, or Amazon letting their Domains names expire and go just because they suddenly turned into “insignificant” domain assets, as you swiftly claimed.
Mustafa Darwish says
You are talking about the “left” side from 1 end-user, which is “you”. What about the end-user who needs the rest of information on the “left”. Someone who doesn’t know the location, and buy the way, the “right” side tells you about the opening hours just in case you do not know. Or just because the information is there, the end-user was inspired with a new idea, or nice photos happened to be a reason behind exposing a crime! The less information, or controlling it, is bad for all, business and end-users. One more thing, giving the end-user just as little as he needs is not the spirit of the web, if you do not like the “left” side stay on the “right” and do not speed.
domain guy says
Google is a third party and like fb will soon be regulated. Third parties have little value and are not the authority on anything.It is more important than ever to control your flow of information. Do you see consumers using google for long island info? or do they go to the authority longisland.com?
and yes 2 billion users use fb and get fakenews, a third party.
More specifically and start writing about this a domain is a single segment consumer touch point that the owner/corp controls the flow of information. Another way to state this how does amazon work? a 20 billion dollar company? a separate domain goes to each page. case close….
Progressive Apps Require a url and the url is used to market the App. Domains are not a luxury they are a necessity that will only grow in importance for many more years to come.
Installable – Allows users to add apps they find most useful to their home screen without the hassle of an app store.
Linkable – Easily share the application via URL, does not require complex installation.