For several months, Google has been excluding domain names from the majority of its search results. Instead of prominently displaying a website’s domain name, Google has generally been displaying brand names / website names and favicons to help users better identify the websites they were visiting. I thought this had the potential to be confusing, but it looks like domain names will be making a comeback on Google search results page:
Presenting site domain names prominently 🙌🏼 https://t.co/PATbim2sXe
— Doron Vermaat (@doronvermaat) January 14, 2020
If you scroll down on Google Search Liason’s tweet from this morning, you can see how the results have looked from when Google responded to a tweet about the change that was posted last year. Google previously published a blog post that illustrated how the search results pages looked without most domain names included.
Without domain names showing up in search engines, a brand could easily use an “ugly” domain name and it didn’t really matter from a Google search results perspective. In addition, prospective buyers have tried to use the argument that domain names don’t even matter. Obviously, there is more to a good domain name than the Google results, but the interpretation has sometimes been that “domain names don’t matter.” With the change highlighted by Google today, that argument can be refuted pretty quickly without having to tout the other benefits (branding, direct navigation, ease of recall, email deliverability…etc.).
I don’t think the return of domain names is going to increase the value of domain names across the board or anything like that. I do think Google’s tacit admission that domain names are important is something that might resonate with digital markets, SEOs, and others who buy domain names, and they might be more willing to spend money on acquiring the right domain name. With this coming change, users will see the domain name before they click through to a website, so having a good domain name will matter more for click throughs on search results pages.
I believe that domain names help create trust between brands and visitors. Because Google is now presenting domain names more prominently, it shows how important Google believes they are to the search experience.
Thanks to Doron from Efty for highlighting this.