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How To Get Listed In The Dmoz Directory

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Marcel Feenstra

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User since: 20 Apr 2007

Articles written: 2

I'm a little confused. As an internet consultant specializing in search engine optimization, I believe that it is a good idea to submit your site to DMOZ (a.k.a. ODP or the Open Directory Project) --in fact, Google even encourages you to do so! However, being an ODP editor myself, I can tell you from personal experience that perhaps only 10-20% of all the site suggestions we receive actually follow our guidelines...

This is a pity, not only because it wastes the time of the ODP's volunteer editors, but also because it severely reduces the odds of your site being listed within a reasonable amount of time! So, for the benefit of all Workers of the Web, this article will show you how to suggest your site the right way. I will walk you through the Guidelines and point out things that typically go wrong.

Is your site listable?

The first step would be to determine if your site is listable at all, since certain sites will simply not be listed. This not only includes sites with illegal content (e.g., material that infringes copyrights or other intellectual property rights), but also sites that contain little or no original content (e.g., sites consisting mainly of affiliate links, advertisements, and articles that are being syndicated across the Internet).

Keep in mind that the ODP is not a listing service for webmasters; instead, we try to include and describe sites that are valuable resources for end users. If your site contains a lot of unique, useful information, it is probably a good candidate for inclusion; but if it doesn't, it is not.

Is your site already listed?

It is a good idea to search for your domain (without the "www") from the ODP home page before you start the site suggestion process.

If you find that the site is listed, but not the way you would like it to be, do not suggest your site again. Instead, use the "update listing" link at the top of the page where your site is listed. Keep in mind, however, that there has to be a good reason for a listing to be updated; e.g., the listing contains typos, or is factually incorrect. A webmaster's natural desire to add keywords or marketing hype to the title or description is not considered a good reason!

What is the single best category for your site?

If I had to name the one mistake that causes the most delays, this would be it: not selecting the "correct" category. The first criterion we use to determine where a site should be listed is its language.

If your site is not written in English, you should suggest it to the appropriate category under World. For example, a site in Dutch should be suggested to the appropriate subcategory of World/Nederlands; however, a site about the Netherlands written in English should be suggested somewhere in Regional/Europe/Netherlands!

Next, you should "drill down" to the most specific subcategory for your site. In other words, if you have a domain name appraisal service, you should not suggest it under Computers/Internet (let alone Computers!) or even Computers/Internet/Domain_Names but instead you should go to Computers/Internet/Domain_Names/For_Sale_or_Auction/Appraisal.

Now, if you go to the "correct" category in my example, you may notice the line near the bottom of the page that reads: "Volunteer to edit this category." As a result, you may believe that this category "has no editor" and decide to suggest your site instead to a "higher" category that does have one or more "named" editors. (In my example, the first category with named editors would be Computers/Internet at the time of writing.)

It is important to realize that this would be wrong. No category is ever "without an editor." The editors listed under Computers/Internet can edit not only in that category, but in every underlying category as well, including Computers/Internet/Domain_Names/For_Sale_or_Auction/Appraisal! Also, there are editors with special privileges ("Editall") who can edit anywhere in the directory.

If you suggest your site to an inappropriate category, this is what will probably happen. Your suggestion will wait in a queue until an editor decides to review it. (Since the ODP gets lots of suggestions, this can take anywhere from a few days to several months or even years.) The editor will notice that the site has been suggested to an inappropriate category, and do one of two things. If the category is completely off, the editor may decide to treat the suggestion as spam and simply delete it. However, if you are lucky, the editor will "forward" the suggestion to the appropriate category --the one where you should have suggested your site in the first place! If you had suggested it there yourself, your site might well have been listed by now; but instead, it will have to wait all over again for an editor to review it...

What should your suggestion look like?

Once you have identified the best category, the suggestion process becomes rather straightforward. A site suggestion consists of three elements: the URL, the title, and the description.

For the URL, enter the shortest version that points to the home page of your site, e.g., or --normally, you should not submit a "deep link", and you should not include a file name (e.g., index.html).

For the title, enter the official name of your site. Do not add things like "Welcome to", "Home page of", or other information that isn't part of the official name.

Finally, for the description, enter a short, objective, well-written text. Do not repeat the title in your description, do not use words like "I", "we", or "us", and do not include marketing hype. Also, be sure to write your description in the appropriate language for the part of the directory where you are suggesting your site --e.g., Dutch if you are suggesting your site to World/Nederlands, but English if you are suggesting it to Regional/Europe/Netherlands.

By creating a "perfect" site suggestion, you will make the editors' job much easier. When they get round to reviewing your site, they won't have to rewrite everything from scratch; instead, they will be able to "accept" your suggestion as submitted.

What happens next?

When you have filled out the site suggestion form and press the "Submit" button, you should get an on-screen confirmation that tells you that your suggestion has been received. You will not receive any further messages from ODP. In other words, you won't receive a "rejection notice" if an editor decides that your site is not listable; but if your site is listed, you won't be notified, either.

Think of the process as "submit and forget" --once you have suggested your site, there is nothing else you can do, either to "speed things up" or to inquire about the "status" of your suggestion. (In the past, you could ask for a "status check" at the Resource Zone, but at the time of writing, that facility no longer exists; also, you should not contact individual editors about your site suggestion.)

If you follow the steps in this article, your site suggestion will be much better than most, and you will avoid any unnecessary delays!

Marcel holds a Master's degree in Comparative Literature from Utrecht University, one in International Relations from The Fletcher School (Tufts University), and an MBA from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He is the owner of AfterImage Internet Consultants in The Hague, a company specializing in search engine optimization for SME in The Netherlands and Belgium.

In his spare time, he works on Voor Beginners, a collection of sites in Dutch containing information about a large (and growing) number of topics, and its English counterpart For Beginners; he is also an editor at the Open Directory Project. Other hobbies and interests include chess, computers, classical music, and literature. Marcel, his wife and their two daughters currently live in The Hague.

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