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SUBMITTING 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 optimization techniques.

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 the directory.

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 informative content.

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 accepted.

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:

http://dmoz.org/add.html  

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 form.

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!


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