Ten Web Site Promotion Tips for DMOZ – Open Directory Project


The dmoz directory is not a search engine. It’s a directory, like a phonebook. It has been categorizing the Internet since 1998. Dmoz currently has over 590,000 categories and sub categories. The main directory itself has sixteen main categories. All subcategories fall under these top sixteen. Imagine, everything in the known universe able to be categorized under a mere sixteen main subject headings. Seems impossible, but it’s true.

The project has a lot of help categorizing the sites submitted to it. There are currently 64,739 human volunteer editors, which give freely of their time to help bring organization to the chaos. How would you like to pay that payroll each month?

Although there is a built-in search function in dmoz, within a directory the idea is to cl?ck your way down inside of it, until you’ve found what you want. You can move forward, backward and even sideways and up and down. Within several seconds you should have arrived at the intended category and will be presented with a list of relevant sites. You decide, (not the search engine) which site looks like the best and cl?ck the related link. Sound simple? It is simple! So why don’t more people use it?

Probably because we’ve become spoiled by the big search engines. All you have to do is type in a search word and get a whole page of results. Much quicker and more accurate. Right?

Before you answer that question answer these ones:

How many times have you clicked on a search result presented by a popular search engine and had to scroll way down the page or view several deep pages of results to find something close to what you intended to find? How often are the top 10 results not what you were looking for at all, because your search term was not accurate enough?

One point for the directory. Search engines can only return data based on specific search criteria. They are after all machines. Within a directory you get to decide which category is the most appropriate and the fastest way to get there. Search engines pick results on the relativeness of the search term, usually putting a heavier emphasis on the first few words. In dmoz however, your own brain tells you to choose from the list. Brains work better than machines.

How many times have you clicked on a link from a popular search engine to find an abandoned or missing page or an expired URL at the other end?

How many times have you reached a page and had to cl?ck backward to try another listing?

Although you might have to do this in dmoz as well, I have found that I can usually find -exactly- what I am seeking within one or two back clicks.

This is subjective of course. See the next two questions.

How many times do you have to retype your search query more than once to try and narrow down the search?

Come on admit it. The big search engines are very sophisticated but how often do you use any of the advanced search features? That’s worth a lesson in itself. You can quickly narrow the parameters of your search this way, but most folks I know simply retype the original query in a different order and hope for the best.

How much time (on average) do you spend during each session on a “Major” search engine?

Think about it for a moment. Sometimes you get lucky and find an answer in less than ten seconds. Sometimes you’re on there reviewing results for over a minute before choosing one. Other times you can spend quite a chunk of time going back and forth between selected sites and presented search results.

Add up all of the aforementioned time and effort and you may come to the conclusion the big engines are not quite as ‘convenient’ as you thought.

Compare this to a dozen or so -accurate- clicks from within a directory structure and using your own brain for the elimination process. You might find it faster using a directory.

Many of the Major search engines use the dmoz directory as a foundation for search results. You may ask, if dmoz searches are already part of many search results, why use dmoz by itself?

Type this search query into Google, then dmoz: “chile recipes rattlesnake”. You’ll get different results because Google uses many different criteria to weigh their results while dmoz takes a web site at face value.

Tips on Getting your site accurately placed within the dmoz Directory.

Because dmoz is staffed by volunteer editors, it can often take a while to get your web site included. Here are a few tips to speed things up.

1. Find a category WITH an Editor
First of all, when you reach the category in which you would like to include your web site, scroll to the bottom of the page and find out if it has an ‘Editor’s’ name or handle…. Should you find a text line which says “Volunteer to edit this category,” it means the category you have selected has no direct Editor. Thus, it could take even longer to get your site listed. Find a category WITH an Editor to improve your chances.

2. On the very bottom of each category page you can read the date the last time a page was updated. Very important tip. If it says August 2001, pretty good chance no one is going to be updating that page quickly. Find one with a recent date. It shows someone has actively been updating that category.

I found my category but it has no Editor, now What?

3. Go back to the top of the page and select the next best category or backstroke to the main sub category. All dmoz main categories have ‘Meta Editors’ which are in charge of several (if not hundreds) of sub categories. Submitting to the general category often gets the Meta Editor to pass it along the line. Bet you didn’t know dmoz editors could do that. They often pass or redirect submissions along to each other. I happen to be a dmoz editor and I find my ‘inbox’ always has several new entries from other Editors of similar categories.

Still no luck, now what?

4. Did you know you are allowed two (yes two) listings within dmoz? The first is subject specific. The second is Geographic. Drill down through the “Regions” portion of the index to find an appropriate category. e.g. business/northamerica/us/ohio . Chances are, the regional portion of the database will list your site based upon your country, village, town or city. Enter your listing there. (when you do, don’t forget tip #-1)

Still no luck, now I’m getting frustrated!

5. Relax. Find the closest category that does have an editor and write them a -very pleasant- email explaining your situation. Most editors I am aware of will write you back. Write a nasty email and you’ll get no response. We volunteer our time. They don’t pay us to take abuse. You can find how to email an editor by simply clicking on their name at the bottom of the page.

Other Tips and Suggestions.

6. Read the category description before submitting your site. Yes, more reading. Most Editors have taken the time to write a description for their respective categories and often supply tips and hints for helping to process the submission faster. Suggestions such as “20 words or less,” means 20 words or less, not 50, 40 or 30 or 21. Writing long flowing paragraphs for your description defeats the purpose and it might take longer to show up (if it shows up at all). Why? Because the editor has to go and personally review your site to maintain the quality of the database. They must then manually edit your description so it makes sense and fits on the page. Bottom line. You are wasting their time by not adhering to the rules. Remember, these are real people doing the work, not machines. The easier you can make it for them the better. Read the category description first.

7. Recently there has been some inaccurate speculation concerning dmoz Editors which are in charge of categories similar to their own business interests, thus not allowing competitors into the same category. This has always been taken into consideration by dmoz administration. In fact, there are new rules and a review process to address this very issue. Each current dmoz editor (or requests to become an editor) are now required to state which URL’s they are personally involved with or work for, especially in business. This ‘association’ review process will assist dmoz administrators in selecting or rejecting editors from conflict of interest categories. All editors are currently under review.

8. Dmoz is fair. There is no “race to the top” of the listings. You can’t buy your way in, nor purchase auctions or paid listings or clickable advertising. You can’t hire someone to try and get you a number one listing. Everyone in dmoz is on an equal playing field. The listings are in alphabetical order. It may be argued that sites beginning with “A” get more viewing than those beginning with “Z” but the listings are not presented this way within the search results, so there really is no distinct advantage. You’ll only find them in alphabetical order if you drill down through the categories.

9. Why go through all this work to get your site listed in dmoz? It’s worth it. At last count dmoz was supplying its database to over three hundred and twenty-two other engines, directories, intranets, and databases. That’s pretty good coverage for a free listing.

10. Volunteer to become an Editor. Find out how the project works from the inside. It’s been an interesting and rewarding experience for myself and I’ve gained a much better understanding of how to market more effectively online. It doesn’t take much of your time and quite frankly, it’s fun.