Google has quietly introduced a new feature to its popular browser toolbar that means you will never need to type in a full URL again.
The Google Toolbars new Browse by Name feature, introduced on Wednesday, takes the concept of searching from the browser address bar and kicks it up a notch. Now, to search, you simply type the name or description of the site youre looking for. If theres a strong match, Google will go straight to that page. For example, “new york times”, “ben and jerry”, “john kerry” and “strong bad” all zoom directly to the appropriate page.
When theres no single obvious match, you havent lost anything—you still get a standard Google search results page. Browse by Name is especially useful when the URL youre searching for is not obvious. For example, Browse by Name on “Muir Woods” brings up the National Park Services site, www.nps.gov/muwo.
The functionality may remind some of the RealNames service, which shut down in 2002. Web sites could pay to register a simple phrase with RealNames as an alternative point of access for their URL. However, sites need not and cannot register for Browse by Name. If a pages relevance to the search phrase is significantly higher than all others, it will be selected.
The process is dynamic—if at a later time a different sites relevance skyrockets, then that site will be selected. Theres no connection with Supported Links or AdWords, and sites cannot pay for placement in Browse by Name.