The End of the URL?

I was listening to BBC news radio last night when the announcer said to “type World Business Report into the search engine and follow the link from there” for the latest version of the report.

He followed up by mentioning the BBC’s news domain name ( as an alternative, but it was striking that he considered “the search engine” a more reliable path to the program’s page.

Of course, the actual URL for that page is pretty long, and it isn’t available directly from the BBC news home page or even from its Business page, so he’s probably right.

For Google and MSN, anyway, both of which return the report as the second search result (the first being the BBC’s other World Business Report, a TV program).

Yahoo, on the other hand, returns the Wikipedia entry describing the TV program as its first result.  The radio program page is below the fold (on my monitor) as the fourth result.


Myk Melez

Myk is a Principal Software Architect and in-house entrepreneur at Mozilla. A Mozillian since 1999, he's contributed to the Web App Developer Initiative, PluotSorbet, Open Web Apps, Firefox OS Simulator, Jetpack, Raindrop, Snowl, Personas, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Bugzilla. He's just a cook. He's all out of bubblegum.


5 thoughts on “The End of the URL?

  1. In Japan, most visual advertising shows a search box with keywords in it. Companies often buy those keywords from Adwords etc. to insure their site is easy to find.

    It’s probably much easier for most Japanese to remember a short phrase in their language rather than an exact alphabet spelling. A lot of advertising actually doesn’t even show a URL at all.

    Sites for mobile phones are advertised with a QR code, and/or a very short email address (like to which when you send an email you get an automated reply that contains the URL.

    So you could say the URL is really almost dead around here.

  2. What I’m finding a lot of these days, is people being referred to the top-level domain, then being given instructions on how to navigate the site, to get to the desired page.

  3. Afraid I’ve completely forgotten who it was, but on local radio in London I recently heard an advert which said “search for blah blah” instead of giving a URL. I thought this was a little surprising, but the actual domain name was very long, and spelling it out on the radio would have been awkward.

    I guess it’s easier these days to buy your keyword in a couple of search engines than find a reasonable domain name in a well known TLD.

  4. This is really probably more about the BBC’s policy on giving out web addresses. They quite strictly don’t allow their presenters to read out direct web addresses to anything other than the channel/station homepage. It’s quite amusing listening to Radio 1 all day where whenever they want to direct you to anything they have to explain how to get there from the Radio 1 homepage.

  5. I remember seeing awhile back a piece of code that could analyze a document and then return ~5 words. If you searched for those words, it was extremely probably that you would get the same document back. It’s essentially a URL that isn’t dependent on the location of the document. For instance, this post can be identified by “mykzilla bbc radio.” Kind of an interesting idea considering how often URLs break.

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