A search marketing discussion about optimizing Web pages for mobile devices raises questions about the .mobi domain's future.
Should search marketers optimize Web pages for the ".mobi" domain, which is exclusively for mobile applications, or focus on ".com" and other major Web domains?
This week, that question fired up at least one person attending a Search Engine Strategies panel discussion devoted to mobile search engine optimization (SEO).
Some search-engine marketing experts said the arrival of Apple's iPhone, which has a desktop-like Web browser, along with other developments mean marketers should focus on optimizing their Web sites using .com, .net, and other major domains.
Dhana Pawar, co-founder of Yojo Mobile, a company that develops location-based applications for mobile devices, was discussing Apple iPhone usage statistics during the session. Suddenly, someone interrupted her from the back of the room.
"I own 700 dot-mobi [addresses]; I don't want to see 'dot-mobi is not alive in the United States,'" he yelled. "You're trying to sway [us] toward your company."
Pawar countered that her company does not have an interest in seeing dot-com addresses fare better than those with dot-mobi addresses.
Returning to the topic at hand, Pawar said using one Web address makes it easier to track Web site usage. Plus, it's easier for consumers to remember one Web address.
Cindy Krum, senior SEO analyst at Blue Moon Works, also pointed out that companies that use both .com and .mobi addresses run the risk of publishing duplicate content, a practice that's frowned upon by search engines.
There are more than one million .mobi domains registered, according to dotMobi, the registry for that domain.
In an e-mail interview, Vance Hedderel, dotMobi's public relations director, said the .mobi domain remains relevant. He pointed out that there were more than 200,000 mobile sites in July 2008, up from 25,000 in July 2007 -- based on a crawl of all mobile-specific and mobile-friendly sites on more than 80 million .com, .org., .net, and .mobile domains.
"While that very strong increase shows the growing interest in the mobile Web, it's obviously a fraction of the total number of Web sites that will not work on a mobile phone," Hedderel wrote. "This is why the .mobi domain is relevant for end users -- they can know that content is designed to work on their mobile devices."
Hedderel said dotMobi is an iPhone fan, adding that point has been made on the domain registry's blog.
Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.
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