Dan Gillmor claims that with the advent of Google, domain names are no longer important. I bet to differ.
He notes that whereas in the past he would have might have hunted around for the web site for Via Technologies, today he just types in the company’s name into Google to find its web site. The main lesson there, though, is not that domain names are still important, but rather that directories like Yahoo! are probably toast over the long run.
Does anybody use Yahoo! anymore? Obviously that’s a bit facetious, but I almost never visit Yahoo! Two years ago if I wanted to find a web site about 19th century slave revolts, I probably would have navigated through Yahoo’s directory. Today I’d just spend a few moments searching for “slave revolt 19th century” and similar such terms until I find a few sites, and then go from there. I don’t think I’ve searched for any topics on Yahoo in at least 6 or 7 months.
As for domain names, they are still important if only as easy-to-remember markers to bring visitors back. On the one hand, for example, my animalrights.net site certainly benefits from Google. On the other hand, I’m certain it receives a lot of return traffic simply because animalrights.net is very easy to remember. Similarly, I find it very nice that if anyone asks me for the address of personal web site, I can smile and tell them it is just simply Brian.Carnell.Com.
I know this works from personal experience. Three sites I visit regularly are Steven Denbeste’s site – Denbste.Nu, Fredrik Norman’s site – FredrikNorman.Com, and Glenn Reynolds’ InstaPundit.Com (which isn’t a name, but is very easy to remember and very descriptive of the site).
Gillmor says he’s letting his domain names lapse, but I’ve been registering cool ones. Seth Dillingham was nice enough to alert me to an awesome domain name that was available, and which I subsequently registered, DevilsAdvocate.Org, and I’ve had other people e-mail ideas for very cool domain names that are still available. Given how cheap domain names are, it’s still a good idea to grab one for your site rather than rely solely on Google for people to find your site.
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