Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Firefox for Mobile, Programming, Technology, URL Fixer

What do people type in the address bar?

Earlier this year, I added a feature to URL Fixer (a browser add-on that fixes errors in URLs that you type in the address bar) that collects anonymous usage stats from users who opt in in order to help improve the ways that URL Fixer corrects typos; the collected data includes domains that are typed in the URL bar as well as the locale (language/country) of the user who typed them.

I now have six months of data, and I’ve run some statistical analysis on it in order to share some interesting stats with you. (If I were more creative, I would make an infographic out of this information.) Note that this data does not include bookmarked links or links that users click on in websites. It is strictly domains that have been typed directly into the address bar.

Care to guess the most commonly typed domain? That’s right: facebook.com. It was typed almost three times as often as the second most popular domain, google.com.

The top 10 domains account for 20% of all typed domains.

facebook.com 9% twitter.com 1.1% amazon.com 0.5%
google.com 3.3% mail.google.com 0.6% reddit.com 0.5%
youtube.com 3.3% yahoo.com 0.6%
gmail.com 1.1% hotmail.com 0.6%

The most popular TLD for typed domains is .com, followed by .org, .net, and .de.

.com 63%
.org 4%
.net 4%
.de 4%
.ru 2%
.hu 1%
.fr 1%
.co.uk 1%
.br 1%


The top 17 TLD typos are all variations of .com. In order of frequency, they are .com\, .ocm, .con, .cmo, .copm, .xom, “.com,”, .vom, .comn, .com’, “.co,”, .comj, .coim, .cpm, .colm, .conm, and .coom.

The website that appears to benefit the most from users mistyping a legitimate URL is faceboook.com (count the o’s). It’s a scammy website set up to make you think that you have been chosen as a “Facebook Winner.” However, it is only typed once for every 7,930 times that someone correctly types facebook.com. (googe.com and goole.com are runners-up in this category, albeit with much less scammy sites in place than faceboook.com.)


49.5% of domains are typed with a leading “www.”.

The most popular non-.com/.net/.org domains: google.de, vkontakte.ru (a Russian social network), and google.fr.

The only locales where neither Google nor Facebook control the most popular domain are ru-RU (Russia – vkontakte.ru), fi-FI (Finland – aapeli.com, a gaming website), ko-KR (Korea – fomos.kr, an e-sports website), and zh-CN (China – baidu.com).

How does domain length correlate with typing frequency?

Domain Length vs Frequency Graph

(Facebook is to thank for the spike at 12 characters.)

How about alphabetical order? Has the old trick of choosing a site name early in the alphabet in order to show up above the fold on DMOZ had any lasting effect?

Facebook and Google certainly make their letters stand out, but there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the first letter of the domain and its popularity.

None of the domains with more than a 0.0005% share are unregistered, indicating that this kind of usage data would not be very useful to a scammer or phisher looking for new domain names.

Standard

55 thoughts on “What do people type in the address bar?

  1. jason y says:

    I wonder how much people use the Google search bar in Firefox to do their searches–do you think that would make the Google/Facebook numbers more comparable?

  2. jason, I’m sure (but have no way of confirming) that searches from the search bar and the address bar greatly outnumber any single domain. The high number of people typing “google.com” in the address bar before ostensibly doing a search surprises me though.

  3. Brian Warner says:

    Great data! Can you distinguish between URLs that were manually typed into the address bar and those which were cut-and-pasted from elsewhere? One of my projects would be influenced by a theory that folks are willing to cut-and-paste relatively long URLs even though they’re only willing to actually type short ones.

  4. Adrian says:

    Would you be willing to share the list of the top 25/50/100 typed domains? 7.5m is a great dataset, so you’re teasing us with the (somewhat predicatable) tippy-top of the iceberg!

    For example, alphabetization, length and even www/non-www may be skewed in interesting/different ways at the ‘premier league’ end of the results.

    This is only based on users of Firefox. So it would also be interesting to see if there is any ‘tech’ skew to the rankings, or whether FF’s userbase is akin to IE’s – anyone know of any IE datasets?

  5. Michael Wexler says:

    Any thoughts on how “representative” this sample is of, well, anything? You are talking about the typeins of folks who chose to download this plugin to Firefox. Do the top sites visited correlate with the top sites reported by Comscore or Nielsen in the US or UK for english language settings?

    It’s interesting to just count the data, but if we want it to really mean something, you should put some descriptives around who the users are, and what they represent, as best you can (even just by using the languages and seeing how that count profiles with WW usage stats.)

    If you don’t have that data, that’s fine, but we are left with some data that tells us that some group of people we know nothing about (except that they use FF and your plugin) behave in a certain way. I’m not sure how useful that is, since it would be dangerous to generalize beyond this data without knowing more, IMHO.

  6. TJ Kirchner says:

    Thats actually really interesting, that facebook takes up that much of the internet traffic and that “.com” is that dominating. Course, those numbers might be significantly different if you factor in the number of people using Chrome, mobile browsers, and apps to do their web surfing and business. Still, its pretty interesting.

  7. Michel says:

    Do you see how many people type f+enter or g+enter to go to facebook/google as the first dropdown entry in the location bar?

  8. Jon N says:

    I hardly type google.com since I switched to Firefox and then Chrome. I don’t type m.google.com in Android. Most importantly, I seldom use facebook.
    But then, that’s just me :)

  9. Drew Wells says:

    Fascinating data. Google properties combined make up 8.3%, much closer to Facebook’s typed domains share.

    Does Google’s share change significantly if you include other Google properties like News, Maps, Picasa, Blogger, Reader, Code, etc.?

  10. Sebastian Cesar says:

    As someone else said, many user use the google searchbar in firefox, or just write in their search in the url-field of their browser wich often is set to google. Alot of user also uses the gmail-extension to firefox and chrome. It would be interesting to see the values for these uses implemented in your statistics.

  11. John Vincent says:

    I rarely type in an address in the address bar and only when I know that the drop down list will suggest the website that I have previous visited. Otherwise I normally use one of my tabs such as facebook, gmail, google etc. So I was wondering if there are stats for the number of people who type in the address bar as against those who search or tab their way round the web?

  12. Michel: I don’t have data on how many people typed the full domain vs. how many of them typed something, pressed down one or more times, and then pressed enter. In any case, the domains were all accessed initially by someone typing in the URL bar rather than clicking on a link or a bookmark.

  13. Drewbert says:

    Very interesting data.

    Do you have any stats on people typing in UNICODE (IDN) gTLD’s that don’t actually exist yet (such as .ком)?

  14. It is interesting but perhaps not all that accurate?

    As a power user I often go to my regular round of websites by typing the first letter in the address bar and choosing the drop down.

    I often type google.com as I need to make certain that I am using one of the main datacenters and not my national, .ca.

    I often use the address bar to type in my search phrase. In Firefox this works like the Google tool bar.

    best
    Reg
    nbs-seo.com

  15. Pankaj Garg says:

    Do you have the link stats. e.g. using google.com/bing.com where do people shift mostly?

  16. Erik says:

    “Drew: All of Facebook’s properties (*.facebook.com) combine for 9.4%; all of Google’s (*.google.com, YouTube, Blogspot, etc.) combine for at least 9.7%.”

    What about google.de, google.co.uk, etc? The top 10 list seems to be based on worldwide statistics, and if you’re not adding localized version of google, then the numbers really won’t be correct.

    I’d be interested in the numbers for *.facebook.* and *.google.*.

  17. jeanX says:

    I’m using ff5 and have turned all my favorite sites into apps.This makes an icon of what had been a url.I google by typing in the address bar. I close everything down by clicking one ‘X’.Very interesting site…

  18. Google is the typical browser start page and on the home button. so for facebook it’s better to loose type-in share because. as long as they don’t loose views or user a decreasing type-in share would mean that people use facebook as their browser starting page.

  19. Aankhen says:

    “(If I were more creative, I would make an infographic out of this information.)”

    FWIW, I’m glad you aren’t more creative. ;-) I’m tired of infographics where the graphics obscure the info, which, in this case, is pretty interesting stuff. It’s funny and/or tragic how no-www is winning—if only just—but most people wouldn’t know what to do if marketing materials used that version of the address.

  20. Chris,
    indeed nice stats.

    Anken, regarding no-www domains winning – its quite normal IMO – who wants to type extra chars? Very many people actually type just facebook and press enter which goes to google search, then they click on first site which incidentally is facebook.com.

  21. Drewbert says:

    “Drewbert, yes. There are a handful of entries showing people typing in Unicode, like “.ψομ”. Not a statistically significant amount, but still some.”

    I guess the follow-up question would be “what’s the geographic distribution of your user base? :^)

    .ком gTLD seems to be gaining popularity in Russian and Ukraine from what I’ve seen, even though it’s yet to be approved.

  22. Nice data and thank you for sharing. I found several stats interesting.

    There might be a sampling bias here (I’m not sure) — did you market/advertise your add-on from a facebook page? If so, then your add-on may have more traction among avid facebook users, just because they would be the ones more likely to have been exposed to your tool.

  23. A lot of people and me, don’t type “http://www.” at the start of the URL as it’s quicker.
    But I have found a few sites where leaving out www. dose not work or takes you to a different page.

    On my site I have set it up so http://www.DOMAIN, web.DOMAIN and just DOMAIN all load the same page.

  24. Adrian says:

    OK, maybe the top 100 is asking too much :) – but an aggregate of the main email provider sites would be interesting (ie Gmail + YahooMail + Hotmail etc etc).

    I also think some insight into ‘intent’ can be obtained this way:
    “I am about to be social” = FB + Twitter + similar
    “I am about to search” = Google + Bing (but excluding non-search properties) etc
    “I am about to use email”

    Thanks!

  25. Javier says:

    You mention .co as a typo for .com, yet .co is the country level TLD for Colombia. Does your add-on and/or your statistics consider this?

  26. Not sure you are collecting these information, but if you have location of people… you can distribute the domain by location. It might give a very different picture. On top of that a discrimination on the time the data has been accessed once normalized for timezone might also give an interesting picture on when people are accessing each type of Web sites.

  27. I suspect that people also have google as their home page, much like myself. This would account for a significant drop in the number of times you need to type it in!

    This also doesn’t take into account chrome where the address bar is the google search bar!

  28. Aankhen says:

    Daniel Tan: I know it’s not surprising. What I was saying is that despite people primarily using the www-less versions of URIs to get there, they wouldn’t understand what to do if the marketing materials used those URIs (e.g. Web: chrisfinke.com).

  29. John N. says:

    Can you make the full data set available either online or for purchase? I’d love to have a list of all the domains and number of times they were typed in during the 6 month period.

  30. Anon says:

    Someone already eluded to this but the fact that facebook is typed more than google isn’t really that meaningful. Google’s usage comes from typing searches into the url bar and search bar in most modern browsers.

  31. Donna McMaster says:

    I have to agree with Michael Wexler … this data is interesting but does not represent a very wide group of users. What percentage of web users actually installed this plugin and what characteristics do they share? Because they are the only ones actually represented by the data.

  32. great article… i use the search bar in firefox which is actually google.. and I think a lot of people use it… maybe google should be around 5%…

  33. I think a more interesting topic would be how many people use Google, the site and the Search-boxes in browsers, to get to their frequently visited sites.
    A lot of people i know don’t actually use the address bar to get to facebook.com. They go to google, type facebook and klick on the first hit.

Comments are closed.