Open Directory Project: DMOZ: Frequently Asked Questions

Getting accepted by the Open Directory Project is an important move if you want to promote your site; it will even help you with Google. But what exactly is it? How do you submit your site? And what will help you get accepted? Wayne Hurlbert answers these and other questions about this important Internet directory.

What is the Open Directory Project?

The Open Directory Project, better known as DMOZ, is probably the single most important directory on the Internet. Submissions are accepted free of charge. Sites are considered for inclusion by volunteer editors who review the sites offered for consideration in their very specific categories. The number of different categories is very large, and covers most of the topics found on the Internet as a whole.

Why is DMOZ important?

DMOZ listings are important for several reasons. The listing is given considerable weight in the Google algorithm because DMOZ is a human edited directory. Not every site submitted is included. Inclusion in DMOZ is about the only way to get into the Google Directory. Many smaller directories, and even minor search engines, use DMOZ listings as the basis for their own categorized sites. The link popularity value in the search engines is quite high as a result of a DMOZ listing, both directly from the directory itself, and from the subsequent addition to many small dirctories.

How is DMOZ different from a search engine like Google?

The Open Directory Project is, as its name implies, an Internet directory. As such, it requires submission to the appropriate category for indexing from a volunteer editor. There is no other source of entry to DMOZ except through the human editing process. Google, Yahoo Search, MSN Search, and Ask Jeeves are search engines which add sites for indexing into their database electronically. Submission of a site to a search engine is not required, or even recommended.

What types of websites are included in the directory?

There are almost 600,000 categories and sub-categories included in the Open Directory Project index. As such, there is room for almost any website or blog that includes unique and interesting content for its visitors. Not all sites are included, however, as they might not contain the necessary unique content. Affiliate sites often fail to be included for not having enough original content.

How do I get my site listed in DMOZ?

To get into DMOZ, you must submit your site for consideration. The first step is to go to the DMOZ site, and search through the relevant categories where your site might fit. When you have narrowed your target to the most appropriate category, go to it, and click on “add URL.” Be absolutely certain to read the instructions very carefully. They are not merely a suggestion. They are an absolute requirement. Be sure to submit just your home page to only one category. Multiple page or category submissions will likely be treated as spam, and your site will be rejected.

Are blogs eligible for inclusion?

Because blogs are another form of dynamic website, they are eligible for inclusion in DMOZ. In fact, the directory has created an entire category for blogs alone. In many cases, niche blogs are also found in the main directory categories, along with other traditional websites. DMOZ is now very friendly to blogs.

{mospagebreak title=Who decides whether or not my site is included in DMOZ?}

DMOZ is an entirely volunteer edited directory. Each directory category has editors, as do most directory sub-categories. When a category is lacking an editor, submissions are considered by editors higher up the category scale. The inclusion of any website is based on a thorough review of a site and its content.

I heard some editors are not honest or fair. Is that true?

The overwhelming majority of DMOZ editors are dedicated people, working to provide the best possible Internet directory. While a few editors might be construed as having ulterior motives, they are in the tiniest minority. The main category editors work hard to make certain the site selections are fair and reasonable. As with any human activity, however, some problem individuals will slip through the cracks. Unfair and self serving editors are corrected in their techniques — or are removed entirely.

How do I decide on the proper submission category?

The first step to doing a listing is to check the various directory categories, and find the appropriate one for your site. As mentioned above, there are a lot of categories, and sub-categories, and sub-sub- categories. Be very thorough here, because submitting your site to the wrong category can result in very long waits, and possibly even rejection. Don’t be afraid to spend a little time searching through the various options. You must submit to the correct category for your site. One way to ensure you are in the right one is to search through it. If you don’t see any similar sites to yours, it’s time to check out another category.

How do I write a site description?

A site description should be written as objectively as possible. The best technique for writing a successful description is to write about the site as a visitor would view it. An honest and objective description is most likely to be accepted, and not changed by an editor. It’s also thought that an objective description, free of blatant marketing and keyword stuffing, will help a site to become indexed faster.

How long do I have to wait for inclusion in the directory?

Inclusion time can vary from as little as a few days in some heavily edited categories to as long as a year or more. In general, however, the average length of time for a submission to be approved is about two months.

If I am accepted or rejected, will I hear from the editors?

The editors do not notify website owners as to whether the site was accepted or rejected. The reason for this apparent omission is to discourage spammers from submitting the same sites over and over again.

{mospagebreak title=How often should I submit to the directory?}

Since the website submissions are accepted by some editors on a first come first served basis, and by type of site by other editors, you wait. The waiting period can last anywhere from one week to six long agonizing months. Whatever you do, don’t decide to resubmit your site. At best, your submission will be moved to the back of the line, where the waiting period starts all over again. At worst, your site may even be rejected for spamming.

Should I submit to several categories just to be sure of being in one category?

Resist the urge to resubmit your site to more than one category, as you could be rejected for spamming the directory. While the waiting period can seem like an eternity, you simply have to wait it out. Some categories have a huge backlog of submitted sites. Others lack editors to keep up with the volume of new sites. By having carefully selected your category, you are at least certain you don’t have to worry about being in the wrong one.

What are some possible reasons for rejecting my site?

Your site could be rejected for any number of reasons. The most common reason for delays and rejections is not being submitted to the correct category. Another possibility is that you submitted a site that is not eligible for directory inclusion. Badly designed sites, lack of original and unique content, and sites still under construction are other reasons for rejection. Spamming the directory editors with the same site on numerous occasions will almost certainly result in rejection.

How do I contact the editors?

Editors can be accessed directly through their Feedback link. Be sure you made an accurate record of the submission date and category when the site was submitted. They will ask for that information. They want to be sure you submitted to the proper category, and that you have given their volunteers sufficient time to look over your website.

How do I find out the current status of my submission?

The best idea is to ask a polite question on the DMOZ public forum, located at You don’t have to be registered to read the forum, but you must register (free) to post a question. As always, be sure to read and follow the posting guidelines. Once again, you will be asked for the date of submission, category submitted to, and the category editor. While at the DMOZ forum, you can also ask some questions about their requirements and regulations. The editors will try to help you in every way they can. While they can’t specifically give you a date for your inclusion, they can let you know if you are in the proper category.

Can I change my site description or category?

To request an update, you must complete an “Update URL” form. Follow the rules and requirements carefully, as you would with any other submission. If you believe your site was included in the wrong category, you can send an  email to one of the category editors, and explain your disagreement. Politely request a change of categories for your website, and provide good reasons for the change. Paying attention to the original description, and applying to the correct category in the first place, is the best technique. Changes to DMOZ listings happen very slowly.

{mospagebreak title=What are regional listings?}

A regional listing is for businesses and websites marketing to a specific geographical area. A local hardware store, for example, would fall under this category. When you apply for a regional listing, be sure that your site has a clearly marked physical address, displayed prominently on your site. It almost certainly has to be easily seen on the home page of your site, and preferably on the inside pages as well. That doesn’t mean you can get away with your address written in tiny print at the bottom of the page. Display it prominently. If your site does a lot of locally based business, your site should qualify for a regional listing.

Is a DMOZ regional listing less important?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking a regional is listing is less important. The people living in the area think the region is important. You should consider the area important as well, by providing a lot of content, specifically for local visitor traffic. With enough local and regional content on your site, you can be included in the DMOZ Regional Listings. A second regional listing is certainly worth having for your website.

Can I add a second listing for my site?

It’s very important to note that if you are seeking a second DMOZ listing for your site, it should contain enough important and useful content to be included in a second category. The information provided by your site must almost amount to a second website. A few articles on the subject will not qualify. The content must be substantial and unique, and in keeping with the policies of DMOZ.

I have an affiliate site, so how do I avoid rejection?

You must distinguish your affiliate site from the thousands of other affiliate sites out there. The way to do that is to add content. DMOZ requires original content. A single sales page doesn’t qualify. To add content, you could write reviews of the products you offer. You might want to discuss the problems your products and services address. Writing about industry news related to your products and services will also be helpful to your submission.

How can I make my site more acceptable to DMOZ?

Be sure you have no pages “under construction,” because the editors will reject any sites that aren’t ready for prime time. If you still have pages that are not completed, either remove them until they are ready for the public, or finish adding their content. Whatever you do, get rid of any “under construction” or similar red flag pages that indicate your site is not fully operational.

Does having a professional looking site help?

An important thing to do is to check over your site content for typos. While some keyboarding errors might not doom your site to rejection, having a professional looking site will certainly enhance your chances of success. Good professionally done sites, that feature a lot of original and useful content, are almost always accepted.

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