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Google threatens domain names with Direct Connect

Kevin Murphy, November 8, 2011, 13:58:29 (UTC), Domain Services

Google’s latest social networking play is a potential threat to the relevance of domain names.

The company has announced the launch of Direct Connect, a feature that enables direct navigation to Google+ pages via the search engine.

Essentially, typing a + sign before the name of a brand in the search box will take you directly to that brand’s Google+ page, assuming it has one, bypassing search results.

This video explains it pretty well:

Google said yesterday that at launch a handful of brands, including Pepsi, Toyota and Angry Birds, are signed up, but from where I’m sitting only +google seems to work as advertised.

The feature also only seems to work when used with the search box on Google’s home page.

However, it does not require a massive leap of the imagination to see it quite easily showing up soon in the Google Toolbar and the integrated search/URL bar in Chrome.

Direct Connect was launched alongside Google+ Pages, the company’s answer to Facebook Pages – a way for companies to have their own branded fan page for interacting with customers.

Many companies are already advertising their Facebook addresses, or simply encouraging people to search Facebook for their brand, in print, on TV and elsewhere.

It might not be long before we see +brand advertising along similar lines.

Could Google train people to type +pepsi instead of pepsi.com? It’s an interesting notion.

The + operator was of course until recently a way of telling Google that you really, really wanted to see search results containing your query.

As Google has increasingly crapified its search engine with infuriating “user-friendly” guff over the last few years, I’ve trained myself to automatically put a + in front of every search in order to get the results I want rather than what Google, in its infinite wisdom, thinks I might want.

I’m sure I’m not alone.

While the + function has now been deprecated in favor of enclosing queries in quotation marks, it is nevertheless already trained user behavior in many cases.

I’m not suggesting that Google is going to kill domain names, but at first glance Direct Connect certainly seems to be a step toward attempting to make them less relevant for branding and advertising.

I can’t help but note that Google+ Pages was launched unilaterally by Google with no multi-stakeholder consultation, no battles with intellectual property interests, and no government oversight.

The Association of National Advertisers has yet to demand that Google shuts it down.

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Comments (12)

  1. Gene says:

    Interesting, but, in a sense, a minor issue for domainers. Here are four reasons why:

    a) At this point in time, if I want to go directly to a brand page, (95% of the time) why would I type that name into google rather than directly into the address bar?

    b) Companies still need their sites hosted on and accessible via a domain name, regardless of how the visitor arrives there. This addresses HOW they arrive there, not WHAT is there when they arrive, or HOW the content is hosted.

    c) People use search engines to narrow down the choices when they’re looking for something – whether something general or specific (hence the ongoing effort to be ranked on Page-1 of Google).

    d) Even Google is still buying domain names, along with most other companies; so if they were going to launch a technology that would eliminate the need for domain names, you’d see them stop buying names and start dropping them.

  2. Alot to think about…

    I think I must be living in a cave…

    I never knew to type the + into the search field (or is that in the address bar field) ??

    Who here has Google + Pages ??
    Can I see some… ??

    ~Patricia – Ohio USA – DomainBELL

  3. JS says:

    So it’s an opt-in service, right ?

  4. Dan says:

    Hi,

    It is quite obvious, that Google with its changes in how and what websites they now prefer on top in their ‘organic’ listings…are officially catering to large company’s and well known ‘brand names’.

    In the last 6-12 months, they have almost destroyed..many good small to mid-size business’s.

    Their motto of: “Do No Evil”… went out the door, about 10 minutes, after they came up with it.

    Only industry that will continue to thrive, do to company’s trying to keep up with Google’s never ending changes is the “SEO industry”….

    In fact, if it was not for Google…the “SEO” industry would be 1/5 or less in size it is now.

    Anyway…

    Google will continue to do whatever they want to do…as no one seems to care much…or are willing to challenge them on anything.

    Peace!
    Dan

  5. Steve Jones says:

    If Facebook hasn’t thus far made domains much less relevant, Google+ won’t. Brands might be coming to Google+ now, but the people still won’t be, and brands being on there won’t exactly entice people there. People are still choosing Facebook.

  6. I think google is very scared of facebook & trying every aspect that they can to copy it one way or the other but failing in miserably,

    In fact no new innovative thing has come out for last so many years from Goog that it has become like Microsoft which is just always into upgrade mode

    As regards domains i dont think any serious marketeer would leave his brand in hands of any other company even Facebook or Google . They just create addons

    My 2 cents
    🙂

  7. Randomo says:

    If this “+” method of navigation becomes popular, it seems the only losers would be typosquatters. Someone who types “+Pepsi” is looking for Pepsico’s site, not for something generic related to cola drinks.

    P.S. @Gene: My wife, a smart and highly educated person, does exactly that – types a company’s name into Google and then clicks on the link, rather than typing it into the address bar. If she does it, zillions of other people probably do too.

  8. Google this, google that… Are we so afraid of Google we would cower whenever they shake their finger??

    Seriously people, Google should fear us! We all have Facebook pages. We all know Facebook has beaten Google on more than one occasion. And our habits prove that Google should be afraid!

    The end is near and all the panda, goose, local market slapping is the remnants of a ONCE great dictator.

    “Do no evil…Relevant searches…” my foot! Mark Zuckerberg has started the revolution and .com is KING.

    Google will fall into not a million pieces but googol pieces. (Googol = 10 to the power of hundred)

    Ex-Adwords/Adsense account holder.

    • Jenna says:

      It really denpdes on the dollar amount invested and lost if it is small no matter what the personal and emotional motivation to pursue them might be (and I really think people like this need to be punished) chalk it up as lesson learned. If the dollar amount is fairly large remember Investigators don’t work for free I know I used to be one. You can always try to track them down through the internet using ICAN or one of the other companies that are providors for internet addresses. Sometimes when they register especially shady companies they make mistakes and actually leave a real contact address when they register their domain name. Another way..though harder is to get one of your computer whiz kid friends to ping his server and get his IP address and try to get a local address for where the server resides. Other than that report them to ICAN report them to the local BBB and contact your state rep at the attorney general’s office to see if they can help. If all this fails .it is as my grandfather would say, I guess your the goose and your cooked.

  9. Very nice article! Now this is informative news that I can chew on and get a good taste of what Google has vomited today. After swallowing the chunks and making my way through vial of the intestestnal fortitude of Googles under belly, I can honestly say it is a mere after morning hang over which passes like flatculence. Domain names will forever live! Kev

  10. Dan says:

    Hi

    @Privy …more than just a good “2 cents’ worth 🙂

    When a company like J.C. Penney… can put ALL their 275K products on “Facebook” for sale…and you can buy them right off Facebook…that is pretty powerful.

    You right about what Google has/is becoming…they are turning into the old “MS’…When “MS” was trying to be ‘everything to everyone’…by foolishly pumping ‘billions’ into MSM live search…to try and compete with Goggle.

    Problem at the time, which took ‘MS’ way to long to recognize is that they were and are a “tech” company and not a search engine company…and that’s how most people ‘perceived’ them.

    Finally, they ‘got this’….and “BING”…you have a decent search engine…with a bit of separation from the ‘MS’ the ‘tech’ company.

    Now, Google instead of being a ‘Search Engine’ company…they are doing what “MS” was/has/is…they are trying to become ‘every thing to everyone’

    Their search engine…for the last 5 years or so now, has become nothing more than a ‘financial bank’ for them…to fund everything else but their ‘search engine’

    Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but to this day, people do much more search’s for information, than they do for buying a specific product.

    Yet, most searches you do on Google today, the first page(s)… do not look that much different, than any domain name ‘parking page’…you can think of….IMHO

    Peace To All,
    ‘D’

  11. Domain Gnome says:

    Well, I’m thinking that Siri type navigation may kill the domain name market long before Google+, just my humble opinion. When you can ask your computer to go find you something, and it comes back with several verbal choices and refinements to your query, and back and forth again and again, well, where’s the need to see any domain name at all? Aside from branded domains and actual destination sites, I think the future importance of the rest of the stuff on the net is marginal, at best. This voice navigation is going to multiply geometrically, the way the mouse did, and later the gesture navigation. Cap’n Kirk didn’t give a hoot about domain names when he spoke to the mother ship, and I think that’s the internet end game.

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