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NAVIGATIONAL SEARCH:
WHY BOTHER?

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Navigational search - using a navigational query - is the practice of typing a word into a search engine that the user knows will return the specific web site that they want to visit. The practice is born out of the fact that a domain name or URL must be typed in exactly in order to reach the required web site. With a few notable exceptions, specific spellings of domain names can be tricky to remember - including which suffix is used.

If the surfer wants to return to a web site they have been on before, what they do is type into the search box a word or phrase they know is part of the domain name.

This practice has been around for a while, and I thought that it would die down as folk got more use to how the web works - but that is not the case. I have signed up for the excellent Hitwise [hitwise.co.uk] newsletter which gives a round up of what search terms are being used in searches. This months [feb 07] includes details of the top UK Search Terms in 2006. And the top three? - 'ebay', 'bebo' and 'argos'. Indeed, the top generic - that is non-brand-related - term was 'games' at number 28.

What bugs me is that I have long preached the importance of a good domain name - but it would appear that for the major players at least, it is not an issue because users don't bother typing it into the browser anyway.

And what baffles me is why, if you know the name of the company is Google or ebay [usually at the top of search term lists], do you bother opening up a search engine and typing in the name and '.com' / '.co.uk' ? Even more baffling [to me at least] is how many people search on the term 'Google' in Yahoo and MSN - if I worked for either of those that would really annoy me.

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