Google has published Google Zeitgeist 2008 this week. This yearly summary of the year’s most popular searches at Google. So what is interesting here?
The results for the most popular searches in Austria are odd: youtube, orf, ebay, hotmail, wikipedia, herold… Not just Austria, all over the world people seem to mix up address bar and the search field.
This implies a few things: first, this seems to be a basic design flaw in internet browsers. Of course, the address bar is commonly placed on top, but for most people attention is drawn to the all important input field in the center of the start page. (Or, if I recall correctly, in Internet Explorer people’s inputs in the address bar are redirected to a search engine when no website is found)
Whatever the cause one can’t help but notice, secondly, people (the significant majority) are nowhere near internet-savvy. In some countries more, in some countries less. Really successful in the web business are the people who really acknowledge and exploit this fact: hackers, phishers and spammers. On the legal end of the spectrum, most internet advertising and market seems to just talk and connect to the experienced internet user segment.
Thirdly: Why bother printing your web-address on ads? Or, if you are internet service like check24.de or monster.at: Why bother confusing your clients with adresses? What has to stick is the brand name, and then you have to make sure you own the search results when it is entered.
And lastly, it probably pays to buy yourself into the searches for names of your competitors. Say someone wants to get to eBay, googles eBay and as first result gets the paid ad for Ricardo.at, an Austrian auctioning site. Admittedly, eBay know their stuff too well, but for most other brands you can position yourself right in front of your competition’s gates.