By: Daniel Dore


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Last week I posted an article about top-level domains, and added some of my own pithy analysis. Rather than keeping to the topic at hand, I started rambling about various other topics, and I asked “are domain names REALLY that important anymore?” In response, a reader named Bruno emailed me the following:

I would like to add that Direct Navigation, or traffic received from users typing the domain name directly into the address bar – bypassing search engines – amounts for a large percentage of overall Internet traffic (I don’t have the exact number off the top of my head). I have a personal portfolio of names, and have many colleagues that also do, that receive thousands of views/day from this type of traffic, without any marketing or seo.

 He’s absolutely right – direct navigation has always been a very significant portion of overall internet traffic; a 2003 study found that 64% of internet traffic was via direct navigation. Much of that navigation is “good” domain names of generic things – if I want pizza, isn’t a good place to look? However, there’s only a finite number of names like this, so everyone else must be getting direct traffic through other methods that aren’t so random. But, my question is, how much of this traffic is due to a “wicked good” domain name, and how much is because of bookmarks, RSS feeds, etc.? I’d never randomly navigate to based on the domain name (is it about owls? Who knows?) but it’s bookmarked in all my browsers and it’s my first stop every morning. …after I visit, of course. So I guess the point of this rebuttal is this – domain names are, indeed, very important, but so are all the other tools to drive traffic to your site, gain an audience, make money…