Google’s Toolbar 5 has an interesting feature guaranteed to draw the ire of the domaining community.

From the features page:

Address Bar Browse by Name
Browse by Name helps you find a site even when you don’t know its URL. Just type the site name into your browser address bar, and Toolbar will take you there automatically. For instance, try typing “oxford” into the address bar to go directly to the university’s home page at

OK, but what if you’re looking for Oxford, Mississippi? Google is deciding which “Oxford” the searcher is intending which is an extremely inexact science. It appears from the few queries I’ve been running that Google is choosing the #1 SERP result as best representing the searcher intent rather than the dot com domain of the keyword.

So, let us take a domain well known in the domaining community: Rick Schwartz’s

When I type the word “candy” into my Opera browser bar (that doesn’t have a Google Toolbar installed), I end up at Rick’s website. Rick clearly has a parked page monetized for his benefit, but the page offers the searcher many possible choices for candy-related destinations…so searcher intent is clearly served.

When I type the word “candy” into either my IE or Firefox browser (both containing the Google Toolbar), I end up at, which currently owns the #1 SERP at Google.

I’ve seen other scenarios where typing the keyword into the browser brings the searcher to either a Google or MSN SERPS page containing the top results for the queried term. The domaining community has strongly argued that usurping browser type-in traffic and sending it to SERPS pages is a way for the search engines to steal and monetize type-in traffic…but at least the searcher is presented with a page full of possible choices that should ultimately meet their needs. However, when Google sends a searcher directly to one site without offering alternatives, they are not only taking type-in traffic away from domainers but they offer the user only one outcome to their query which flies in the face of what a search engine is supposed to do…offering the best possible user experience to answer queries via presentation of multiple alternatives.

Google’s corporate mission is “is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” How is presenting only one alternative to a typed query best serving that mission?

7 thoughts on “Domainer Type-In Traffic Under Attack By Google’s Toolbar 5

  1. This may be something new to the Google Toolbar, but it’s been the case on Firefox for as long as I can remember. I find it useful. People are generally smart enough to use the search bar for searching and the address bar for going to a specific site. I doubt many people are going to be too upset about this other than domainers.

  2. It’s definitely bad for domainers, but it puts even more weight into the #1 SERP position for each keyword. The #1 position is getting richer, while #2 and below are getting poorer.

    I don’t much like this solution they’ve provided – your example proved a point. “Oxford” is the name of the town where the famous university is, and I would think a page about that (e.g. Wikipedia) would be better than going to the university home page.

  3. I honestly don’t think that people ARE that smart, unfortunately, and the point is that it’s another example of functionality that makes a determination that might be completely off-base. This is happening in more places than the address bar and it’s going to continue to be a major issue in search.

  4. The browser bar traffic debate has been around for a very long time. It is a gray area of the net. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I’ll take the traffic I get when they type in candy without the .com. Just because I own the .com version of candy does not mean it should be the default. I like it when it is, but I think I am out of my bounds to demand it.

  5. I personally don’t really like the idea because it can send you to a website you might not be looking for. I find just putting the name into the toolbar and choosing the one you want. I guess some people like the idea so it is kinda good. Great post btw always learning new things from you and I’ve subscribed!

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