YOUR SITE TO THE OPEN DIRECTORY
by: Cary Christian
With the major search engines charging for inclusion, the Open Directory,
which charges nothing for inclusion if your site qualifies, has never looked
better. Additionally, the Open Directory provides you with a backdoor into
many of the major search engines at no cost since it provides core results
to more than 350 search engines, including Netscape Search, AOL Search,
Google, Lycos, HotBot, and DirectHit.
WHAT IS THE OPEN DIRECTORY?
The Open Directory Project (ODP) is a web directory of Internet resources
maintained by volunteer editors who evaluate sites for inclusion in the
directory. Yes, that's right. Every site included in the Open Directory is
reviewed and approved by a human being! No spiders or robots, no trick
search engine optimization techniques, just honest to goodness evaluation by
a real person.
You can find the Open Directory at
http://www.dmoz.org . It looks a lot like a search engine, but it is
not. Sites that are reviewed and make it into the directory are listed in
categories that start out broad and become more specific as you drill down
into the listings. The sites you find in a category have been deemed to
logically fit into that category. Sites do not make it into a particular
category or subcategory because of their use of meta tags or other
This levels the playing field for you. You don't have to be an SEO expert to
get listed. But you do have to have a site that adds something of value to
HOW WILL MY SITE BE EVALUATED?
The goal of the ODP is to create a directory that is useful to its users. As
a result, the editors are selective in granting their approval. You should
be aware of the ODP guidelines prior to submitting. The following types of
sites are NOT deemed appropriate for inclusion in the ODP:
1. Mirror sites - A mirror site is identical to some other site
online but simply has a different URL. For example, if you have an affiliate
site, your site will contain the same content as every other affiliate of
that program. This type of site is known as a "Fraternal Mirror" site.
2. Sites with overlapping and repetitive content, even if not
technically a mirror site, will not be accepted. Since there may be quite a
few sites with similar content to yours, you can avoid this problem if you
make sure you include original content along with your more widely-available
content. (This is a good practice from a marketing standpoint anyway)!
This category of sites that will be rejected includes product sales pages
where the manufacturer of the product should be listed instead. Again,
you'll need to supplement this type of site with your own original and
3. Similarly, you should not attempt to submit your site to multiple
categories using different URLs.
4. Sites that redirect - If your URL simply redirects to another
site, your submission will be rejected. This is true even if your redirect
is "cloaked" so that it is not readily apparent that a redirect is being
used. The editors will catch this.
5. Sites under construction will be rejected. Your site should be
complete and all the links should be working properly. However, if your site
is not complete but contains original content that cannot be found elsewhere
online, it might be accepted if the editor believes your content adds value
to the users of the directory.
6. Affiliate marketing sites - This includes sites that offer little
other than affiliate links, the "fraternal mirror" sites we discussed above
and MLM representative sites. These sites won't be listed because of all the
duplicated content. The main site of the affiliate or MLM program might be
listed, but the affiliate or representative sites will not be.
If the URL you're submitting is an affiliate link, forget it. If it's a
fraternal mirror? Forget it. However, your site will not be rejected just
because it contains affiliate links as long as you provide original and
useful content as well. If the editor deems your site to contain useful
information when the affiliate links are ignored, your site should be
7. Needless to say, sites with unlawful content will be rejected.
8. Sites built totally from search results will not be accepted. ODP
site listings must take the user to a specific page.
If you've created a site that offers useful information and does not violate
any of the above prohibitions, you're ready to submit. Otherwise, create
some original, useful content for your site before submitting. Let's look at
an example of this.
Assume you are selling brand name physical products on your site. If your
site consists of sales pages for the products you sell, you're not going to
get your site listed. The manufacturer of the products you sell can get
listed, but not you.
However, you've discovered some very unique ways to use these products that
people generally do not think of. So you get busy and write some articles
and tips and place them throughout your site to help your customers learn
how to enjoy your products to the fullest extent. Congratulations! You've
just created a site that contains useful content and that will likely be
accepted for inclusion.
READY TO SUBMIT?
The hardest part of the process is creating a site that the editors will
believe is worthy of inclusion in the directory. Submitting is the easy
part. Simply navigate to:
and follow the directions. You'll find a brief description of the above
prohibitions followed by four easy steps to get your site submitted.
STEP 1 - Determine whether your site is appropriate for submission.
We've covered that above.
STEP 2 - Do a search in the directory to make sure your site is not
already listed. This is simple enough. Do a search on your company name,
site title and on your URL.
STEP 3 - Identify the single best category for your site. This is
perhaps the hardest and most important part of your submission process. You
need to get this right not only to have your site accepted, but it has a
major impact on your target market being able to find you after you are
listed. Spend some time with this step. It really is important.
STEP 4 - Once you've located the category you want to submit to, go
to that category and click the "add URL" link at the top of the page. If the
"add URL" link isn't there, you haven't drilled down into the subcategories
enough and you'll have to get more specific.
Once you click "add URL" you will be taken to a page and presented with a
short and simple form to complete. Read the page carefully as it will give
you information about the category you have chosen that will help you be
sure you have selected the most appropriate category.
Remember that search engines are going to be accessing your ODP listing.
Therefore, some search engine optimization concepts are applicable (related
to your site title and site description) when completing your ODP submission
If possible, include keywords in your site title. For example, our Peak
Small Business Center might better be titled "Small Business Resources." You
don't have to change the name of your site, just the "title" meta tags in
the header of your page.
When writing your site description, do not include promotional language or
hype. Write your description dispassionately. Simply describe what your site
has to offer. Again, use your site's keywords in the description.
All that is left is to read the very short submission agreement and press
the submit button. You're done!
It may take anywhere from four weeks to several months for your site to
start appearing in search engines that use ODP data. But when it does,
you're going to be SO glad you did this!
Copyright (c) 2003