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What are Type-In Traffic Domains?

August 11, 2023


Craig in Tokyo

An insightful look at type-in traffic domains, illustrating their influence in early internet navigation patterns. Dive into the history & mechanics of type-in traffic domains and their pivotal role in the pre-search engine web era.


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Web navigation has seen numerous evolutions, and among the notable trends from the internet's earlier days is type-in traffic domains. This article unravels this concept, examining its origins, mechanics, and impact on internet browsing.

Understanding Type-In Traffic Domains:

Before the era where search engines like Google became household names, a unique browsing method prevailed—type-in traffic. I've seen many domain owners & domain investors talk about type in traffic but I haven't seen an explanation of where the traffic comes from?

It refers to the direct navigation users undertook by typing a specific domain name or keyword into their browser's address bar. The browser, in many cases, would automatically add a ".com" extension, whisking the user away to the corresponding website. In other words if you typed in a single word in the address bar example: Nuts the default behavior of the browsers years ago was to append dot com to the end of the word. Due to the space in the middle of two to 3 word phrases appending dot com only worked on words typed in without spaces.

A Look into Its Origins: Internet Explorer:

The journey of type-in traffic domains can be pegged to Internet Explorer. One of the first browsers to have a majority of global use. From 1995's version 2 until 2011's version 9, Internet Explorer automatically tacked on ".com" to any keyword entered in its address bar. This simple function accelerated the popularity of type-in traffic, particularly for .com domains.

Firefox's Launch with Type-In Traffic:

Firefox, in its earlier days, mirrored Internet Explorer by appending ".com" to keywords. This trend continued until Firefox 3.5 came around in 2008. A turning point for Firefox—and arguably the wider web—was in 2004, when Google became its default search engine, signaling a broader transition from type-in traffic to search engine-led navigation. At this time Firefox was a major competitor for Internet Explorer & had a massive global share of browser use.

Type-In Traffic in the Age of iPhones and Safari:

The smartphone era, marked notably by the iPhone's launch in 2007, wasn't untouched by the type-in traffic trend. Apple's default browser, Safari, would automatically add ".com" to keywords, a practice it upheld until 2010's Safari 5.0 release. A vivid example comes from my personal experience with iPhone users in Japan: typing the Japanese term "Anime" into Safari resulted in the native Japanese IDN domain Anime dot com being accessed. A domain that I have owned since 2005.

Decoding Type-In Traffic Metrics:

For domain owners who employed domain parking, understanding the reach and impact of type-in traffic was challenging. The parking stats never painted the full picture. Around 2008 I used an iframe on my Japanese IDN domain anime dot com to see where the traffic came from. I added Google Analytics so I can fully understand why so many people accessed the domain.

At this point I realized that mostly all of the traffic was coming from iphone users in Japan. After investigating I figured out that around this time Safari was appending dot com at the end of any one word terms whether it was in English or in other languages.

The Branding Potential of Simple Domains:

The allure of type-in traffic domains wasn't just in their navigational ease; there was branding potential too. Choosing intuitive domain names, particularly those with generic terms and familiar domain extensions, could enhance an online property's branding. Such domains often enjoyed heightened user familiarity, thereby improving brand recall and driving more traffic.


Since 1995 there are many legacy stats around domains & type in traffic. Some refer to the traffic as hits, accesses, page views, or just traffic. Since 2008 I've known through my research that type in traffic was people putting in keywords in the address bar & the browser appended .com to the keyword. From a domain owner's perspective since there wasn't adequate analytics tools back then it would seem like people were putting the dot com on the keywords themselves & looking for that item to buy or purchase. I'd like to state this wasn't the case.

In writing this I in no way want to discourage the brand value of a good domain. I just want to clarify what type in traffic was & where it came from & what it wasn't.

Here's a timeline

1995-2011: Internet Explorer appends ".com" to keywords.
2002-2008: Firefox's transition from type-in traffic to search engine-led navigation.
2004: Google becomes Firefox's default search engine.
2007-2010: Safari on iPhones auto-appends ".com" to keywords.