At the end of 2015, Google announced that the Internet had reached a new tipping point: there were now more searches being performed on mobile devices than on the desktop. And in 2016, Hitwise confirmed those findings, noting that nearly 60% of all searches are now coming from mobile devices. That fundamental change in the way people search for information online has led to some very important changes for the domain name industry.
#1: Shorter domain names are more important than ever
As a result of mobile web searches, there is now a greater emphasis on domain names that are short and easy to type into a tiny mobile screen. The reason here is obvious: there’s simply less screen space for people to use, and the new focus is on creating short, memorable domain names that are easy to type. And these shorter domain names just look better on a smaller screen.
#2: Domain names in certain industries now place a premium on location
The analysis by Hitwise was fairly extensive, looking at how the proportion of mobile web searches differed by industry and category. What the company found is relatively surprising: while the overall proportion of searches being conducted on mobile devices was 58%, the precise proportion within a specific category might differ significantly.
For example, 72% of all searches related to “Food & Beverage” were being conducted on mobile devices, compared to just 39% of all searches related to “Banking.” This is an important observation, since it tells you how people are using their mobile devices. When they are searching for food & beverage, for example, they are on the go, looking for a place to go “right now.” In contrast, when they are looking for banking information, they are likely at home, working on a secure laptop or desktop.
Thus, if you’re a food & beverage business, there’s a logical reason to include some information about your location in the domain name. That makes it easier for people carrying out searches online to find you. You might think about including a street name in the address or give some other clue about your location.
#3: Domain names that include suffixes like .mobi are now irrelevant
Remember when there was a great land rush to scoop up .mobi domain names? The thinking was that websites specifically designed to work on mobile devices should include a .mobi extension. But that thinking is now obsolete, and the only people buying up .mobi names are overly cautious corporations and organizations, eager to protect themselves against hackers or other people who might harm their brand.
In the mobile era, all websites are now designed to work with mobile devices. Within Google search results, sites that are fast-loading are marked with “AMP,” and Google has said that it will favor AMP sites, but there is no reason to include “AMP” in the domain name itself, or to buy a top-level domain designed for mobile.
With more and more people searching for information on their mobile devices, it’s clear that Google search has had a marked impact on the domain name industry, forcing people to rethink what makes a good domain name. Short, memorable domain names work best. And if you’re in an industry where people are searching for information on the go, you can also include clues about your location to ensure that people will click on your website in search results. Your location, in short, is what makes your domain name memorable – and clickable.