Performancing Metrics

Are URLs on the Path to Extinction?

A recent Wisdump commentary describes how marketing campaigns are asking people to search using keywords rather than type specific URLs.

I am sure you have at least one friend or loved one who has not grasped the concept of URLs and remains highly dependent on Google for finding their way around the web. If you’ll take a closer look at their web browsers, you’ll see why it really isn’t their fault.

The very nature of URLs seems to be another major stumbling block. Ordinary people don’t understand the use of a “www” and a “.com”, or that the “@” symbol is used only in e-mail addresses. They don’t know how to share websites through URLs either—unless there’s a button with explicit instructions that tell them how.

Add to that the explosion of all the domain suffixes like .me, .travel, and even .xxx. Not to mention all the malicious parties that wish to take advantage of their ignorance—stealing and spoofing personal information through misspelled URLs, search keywords, and deceptive e-mails.

For me, the analogy would be this. Using URLs to go to webpages is like giving an exact, specific street address. Like Number 5 Main Avenue, Gotham City, or the like. Going to a website via a search engine would be like giving landmarks and asking people to look for signages. It’s like telling a friend to go to Main Avenue, look for the big brown building across City Hall, with the green revolving door. At the ground floor of that building would be your shop, which is right next to the florist’s.

Complicated, eh? My point is that I agree with Ia’s commentary that this would involve some search optimization on the part of the website owner. What if the florist closed shop? What if the building administrator painted the revolving door red? Then your friend would have a hard time finding you. Two years from now, the building might even be grey or blue-colored.

Accessing sites via search engines works this way, too. Today you might be number one for the keyword blogging pro on Google. Tomorrow, we may not be.

Another analogy would be the use of telephone numbers. You can call or SMS me on my exact, specific phone number, complete with country code, area code and number. You can also search for me by calling a directory service or 411, but that doesn’t always work the way I would want it to. The phone company might have several people named “Angelo Racoma.” Or I might not be listed at all. And of course, some people would rather be able to contact me directly.

So are URLs here to stay? Of course they are. It’s just perhaps that a lot of people are increasingly finding it convenient to just key in a phrase or keyword onto that ubiquitous search box at the top of the browser window. No more keying in WWW or .COM. Even that causes confusion, with the multitude of top-level domains.

In the future, URLs might just take a backseat, with more and more people doing searches than directly keying in web addresses. I can liken this to AOL and Compuserve. Remember the old times, when companies asked you to key in AOL keywords to access their portals, rather than URLs?

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  1. mikeyaozm says: 9/20/2009

    travel, and even .xxx. Not to mention all the malicious parties that wish to take advantage of their ignorance—stealing and spoofing personal information through misspelled URLs, search keywords, and deceptive e-mails.


  2. Options Trading says: 2/26/2012

    @babel in a hail of jingoistic chest thumping your comments have provided some objectivity to this discussion, but seriously folks, we have veered off from the main topid and made it a West Vs India and the collective perceptions. In a way we all are responsible for the image of our country cos we do somehow unconciously want to be feted in the eyes of the West.Anurag, Abhishek, Cliff even though we have different viewpoints on this post, but I am sure that you all will ageee upon the fact that the potrayal of India over the years has been skewed to showcase abject poverty. It may change now or it may never change, but the day and Indian ensemble cast with an Indian director at helm and an Indian production house wins accolades and awards just like SDM did, that day perhaps I will buy into the concept of showcasing poverty in a movie to win awards.


  3. laundry detergent all says: 2/28/2012

    Old Obama doesnt even call terrorists terrorists, he calls em the cause of man made disasters. It sure appears from the cheap seats here at Pajamas Media that Martha Cokelady is as confused as our President Obama whos busy planning to tax everything I buy with the VAT tax, not to mention my intelligence.