Google Trends can give a reality check to the way people are searching on the Internet. For example, did you know that less people are typing in full domain names than ever before? Names of sites minus the TLD appear to have always been popular but the popularity of searching for the name appears to be increasing.
Here's a sample of how people search for Google (on Google).
Here's a look at how people search for the NYTimes vs. NYTimes.com vs. New York Times
New York Times is in first place, followed by NYTimes, and the least searched version is the domain, NYTimes.com. Put another way, people are six times more likely to search for NYTimes than the domain name, and over 30 times more likely to search for the name of the site, New York Times, than the actual domain name. Try this across sites you know, the pattern is pretty much the same regardless of site or niche.
Now here is a look at something different but related. The most popular method of searching for a site has also been going down. For example, New York Times was searched for more often in 2004 than it has in 2013. 2013 name search volume is averaging between 30-57% less in 2013. Possibly this reflects a switch to limiting their content to ten articles per month.
The story is different with Facebook, one of the top three sites popular with mobile devices.
Searches for Facebook are actually growing, unlike the steady drop seen for many other sites. This trend is made clearer when compared to the domain name searches:
It seems that the downward name search trend might correlate with the mobile popularity of a site. This search focuses on a site's actual popularity and is independent of search algorithms. How does your site fare?
[edited by: engine at 4:42 pm (utc) on Mar 26, 2013]
[edit reason] de-linked to fix obfuscation [/edit]