February 7, 2010
What is Dmoz? Dmoz is a human edited directory that has been running since 1998. It was created as a cooperative environment that would allow volunteer editors to keep up with the internet explosion. Way back, Yahoo used to be a directory – not a search engine – and Dmoz was an (eventually bigger) alternative to this. The only difference of course is that we are now well into the Google era of information at your fingertips. Dmoz on the other hand, is pretty much where it started.
Dmoz’s full title is the Open Directory Project. Dmoz is an acronym for Directory Mozilla. The acronym reflects loose association with ex-owner’s Netscape’s Mozilla project, an Open Source browser initiative. Originally called ‘Gnuhoo’ by founder Rich Skrenta, it was renamed the Open Directory Project in October 1998 when it was bought by Netscape. It was then acquired by AOL shortly thereafter, and Dmoz was one of the assets included in the acquisition.
Unlike a search engine, for websites to be listed in the Dmoz directory, they have to be submitted first. They are then reviewed by individuals (known as Editors) who are assigned to various categories within the Dmoz directory.
Is a Dmoz Link Worth It?
It’s fair to say that Dmoz isn’t what it used to be. You may notice whenever you search for something online these days that a Wikipedia entry is often on the first page. This used to be the case for Dmoz, meaning it was a good referrer of traffic to websites. The key words there are that it ‘used to be’. Dmoz’s category pages do not rank well at all anymore, so traffic referral is next to nothing.
It’s not all bad though, Google has its own directory which is in fact just a re-branded version of Dmoz. This shows us that it is still recognised as an authoritative website and that is demonstrated by the high Page Rank of some of its pages. In fact many websites use Dmoz’s data which means if you get in Dmoz, you may inherit far more backlinks than you expected.
One of the reasons why it is still considered authoritative is that you can’t pay to get in as with many other directories. Providing a reciprocal link isn’t an option either, so the theory is that Dmoz is more or less incorruptible. The fact is though, with many thousands of websites being submitted every week, there are simply too many for the Editors to handle. This means websites aren’t reviewed often and so Dmoz’s content is out of date, especially compared to modern search engines.
So, perhaps Dmoz is not the be-all-and-end-all it once was, but lets not get too negative. It takes minutes to submit, so there is no harm in trying!
How to Submit to Dmoz
Before you submit your website, make sure you give it a thorough health check. Have you checked it for broken links, bad spelling and missing graphics? These are all things your website can be rejected for so don’t shoot yourself in the foot!
In order to submit, you must visit the category you wish to submit to and click on ‘Suggest Url.’ It’s important to follow the guidelines, if you miss one element you will be rejected. For the full steps to submitting, visit:
Ensure you don’t spam your submission with keywords or be ‘creative’ with the title. You may get away with this in other directories, but not with Dmoz. If you’re reading this article, you should already be aware of the basics of Search Engine Optimization, so the description you give Dmoz should be related to your website as well as the keywords for which you want to rank.
For help in writing the best entry, the easiest thing to do is to simply take a look at entries already within the category you are aiming for. If they’re in, they’ve obviously done something right! This is also a good time to ensure the category is the right one for your website. Take a look at the websites within the category and make sure they are similar to yours. If not, it’s best to find a more suitable category.
How Long Does It Take to be Accepted?
Dmoz is well known as an authoritative directory website. Needless to say then, it is very popular and thousands of websites have been submitted. Despite having a large number of editors, the fact that each entry is reviewed by humans means the process is longer and the backlog builds up. Considering Dmoz has been running since 1999, that backlog has grown year on year. With this in mind, waiting a year for entry is not unreasonable.
After submitting your website to Dmoz it is worthwhile looking at your web analytics program and searching for the telltale sign of your website being reviewed. The address to check in your logs for is ‘editors.dmoz.org‘.
Is There Any Way of Speeding the Process Up?
Not really. The biggest mistake to make is to get impatient and presume you’ve been forgotten about, and then re-submitting. You could easily be rejected for this. Likewise, even though deep links and multiple categories are not banned from Dmoz, it’s probably best to avoid the potential downfall of doing this.
However, there is one way to get into Dmoz quickly (relatively speaking). Naturally, people are drawn by the high Page Rank of a main category. Thing is, these are the sort of categories that take literally years to get into. It can be as little as a few weeks to get into a lesser Page Ranked sub-category. It’s very simple, fewer people submit their website so the backlog of submissions is much shorter.
As an example of this, our last submitted reviewed website by Dmoz was first submitted 4 months beforehand.
I Think Dmoz Rejected My Website, Why?
In many instances, websites aren’t really rejected, they’re just taking a while to be reviewed. Some of the busier categories will mean you have to wait months before having your website reviewed. This is why it is important that when submitting to Dmoz, you take care in writing the best entry for getting in, not the best entry for your search engine optimization campaign!
Another common occurrence is that your website may be in a different category to what you actually submitted to. It’s not uncommon to see a website moved to a more local category, if you have a .co.uk. domain for example. Make sure you use the Dmoz search tool before presuming you didn’t get in.
If you are sure you have been rejected and it isn’t down to a) a bad description or b) your website being littered with broken links, then you can contact the editor of the category. Simply visit the category you submitted to and scroll to the bottom to the editors’ names. Sometimes you will see a ‘volunteer to be an editor’ link, in which case you need to go up a level to see the editor for the parent category instead.
When you click on an editor’s name, you will have an option to email them. You can also see their activity on Dmoz under their ‘Bookmarks.’ This will help you find the best editor to contact (if there is more than one). It goes without saying when contacting them, be polite and professional!
There are myths and exaggerated stories about ‘corrupt’ editors who only accept websites after receiving a fee, but a minority of editors may be managing categories that are related to their professional background. Unfortunately, that may mean some direct competitors of theirs might get rejected, no matter what the rules are.
Rob Fenn is an SEO specialist, working within the Webtacular (http://www.webtacular.co.uk) department of the website design firm Sixth Sense ESP (http://www.sixthsense-esp.co.uk), which focuses on Internet Marketing for SMEs. Outside of SEO, Rob is also a Google AdWords Qualified Professional