The general consensus among browser developers seems to be that urls confuse the average user. While the removal of http:// in some browsers is not really hurting the visibility that much, other implementations do. Google Chrome displays for instance the search term that you have entered in the browser's address bar and not the url that was opened as a result on Google.
A recent experiment on Google Search goes a step further than that, as it replaces url information with names of websites or domains only.
So, instead of displaying the url that users will open when they click on a result,the page is only displaying the domain name or brand name that has created the page.
While results may not be displayed for all websites and brands in this way, it is in my opinion a stupid thing to do. Why? Take a look at the following example:
If you want to log in to Facebook, which of the displayed pages would you load? Most experienced users will reject the second result outright, but there is no clear distinction between the first and third result. While the first is more likely the homepage of the service, there is no guarantee that this is really the case.
Side Note: There is a way around this, should Google ever launch the change for all users of its search engine. It is still possible to hover over a link to display its target in the status bar area of the browser that you are using.
And that is just a basic example, but one that will occur numerous times on the web. As long as multiple results from a single domain are displayed, users may have issues selecting the correct page from the selection that Google provides, as there is no clear distinction anymore between different results.
The url is the only parameter that enables you to identify a website with 100% certainty, as it is the only unique parameter that identifies web pages on the Internet.
Often, urls not only provide you with information about the page you are about to open, say the homepage, a blog on a subdomain or a page on the site, but also with other information such as the date an article has been posted or a general categorization of the topic it covers.
If you just display Facebook, Wikipedia or IMDb in the results instead of the url of the linked page, then you have no clue where the link will take you. While you may be able to use clues posted in the title, it is important to note that titles are selected by the site so that they do not necessarily reflect where you will land when you click on the link (unless Google manipulates them, which the company does at times, but that too does not have to mean that you will know where the link will take you).
What's your take on a url-less Google?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.