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Lesson #14



In this lesson, you will learn how to submit your site to the Open Directory Project (dmoz) at You will learn that the Open Directory Project is a backend database for AOL Search and other major search engines. Thus, your submission to dmoz, if successful, will improve your site's odds of appearing in several other important search engines.


In a previous lesson, we discussed that Yahoo! was the first to use human editors. The Open Directory Project, partially in response to the commercial direction Yahoo! has taken over the last few years, was also founded on the principal of using human editors to review submissions. However, the Open Directory Project (abbreviated “ODP” and also referred to as “dmoz”) is committed to never charging a fee for reviewing submissions. The economic reality in applying that principle means that ODP uses volunteers and can often be excruciatingly slow in reviewing sites.

ODP draws upon the spirit of Internet community, providing a free service by using volunteer labor. ODP states that there will never be a charge for submissions and the data will always be freely distributed to anyone who will follow the license terms. Thus, ODP is doing what it thinks Yahoo! should have done: not sell out to commercial interests. ODP is purposefully rejecting the trend of the major directories and search engines to become fee-driven.


Because its data is comprehensive and free, ODP listings are used by the Web's largest and most popular search engines and portals, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, Lycos, HotBot, DirectHit, and hundreds of others. Thus, ODP is a free backdoor to inclusion in the major search engines. If ODP can continue to acquire and maintain sufficient volunteers to catalog the tremendously growing Web, it will become increasingly important for Webmasters to have a listing for their sites in ODP.


Not all sites submitted are included in ODP, however. ODP sees itself as a coalition of net citizens who are organizing the Web for the rest of the Internet population. These net citizens see their mission as “culling out the bad and useless and keeping only the best content.” Since ODP editors work for no pay, it follows that ODP editors have a bit of an anti-commercial bias. They do not hide their distaste for what they refer to as “affiliate link farms.” Thus, your Website must be characterized by substantive, original content with minimal affiliate links for any hope of inclusion in the ODP directory.

The upside is that ODP inclusion is not dependent on your site's popularity expressed by links to your site, as is inclusion in Google and some of the other search engines. With ODP, you really only have to impress one person: the editor reviewing your site. ODP offers an opportunity for a really good site to be included in several major search engines, even though the site may not yet be popular. Thus, ODP offers a way out of the Catch-22 situation of your site not being popular because it does not show up in the search engines…and not showing up in the search engines because it is not popular.

It should be noted, though, that ODP does not rank sites. It either includes them or it does not. Ranking of the data is done on the searching end by the search engines that include ODP data. Inclusion in ODP does seem to help your ranking in most of the other search engines, however.


Like Yahoo!, you need to pick the most appropriate category for your site and submit directly from that category page. The “Add URL” link is in the menu bar near the top right of each page. From the main page (, drill down through the categories to the one which is most appropriate for your site. From that category page, click the “add URL” link to submit your site. NOTE: Some ODP categories may not have an “add URL" link. Consequently, you may have to drill down to a more specific category in order to submit your site.

Read over the submission policies and instructions before submitting your site. Make sure your site is not already included. Just as with any other search engine or directory submission, do not submit mirror sites or sites with similar content. Your site must have original content and not be repetitive of any other site in order to be considered for inclusion. Thus, you should not submit pages that only contain links or redirects to other pages. Do not submit sites that are still under construction.

Also like Yahoo!, ODP requires you to type in a title and description for your site. Follow the same principles we discussed regarding meta-tags and Yahoo! submissions in previous lessons when composing your title and description for the ODP submission.


Currently located at, the ODP provides a public discussion board for communication with its editors. This forum gives you an opportunity to see into the minds of the editors. Very recently, ODP added a specific category to the discussion for specific site-submission issues. While the editors will not allow you to argue about your site's rejection, they may (as time allows) give you an explanation for its rejection.

An editor’s recent post to the new “Site Submission Status” forum is characteristic of many of the rejection explanations. The editor states that sites consisting primarily of affiliates links will be rejected “no matter how you slice them or dice them.” It is not quite fair to accuse the ODP editors of being anti-commercial. Commercial sites are not excluded as a general principle. There is, however, an obvious aversion to sites which seek to engage in commerce through affiliate links.

The difference seems to be that if a site is selling some product or service directly from the site owner, it will be included if it is a professionally done site that otherwise conforms to the ODP guidelines. On the other hand, if the site is selling some product or service through an affiliate status, it will be judged by a much more stringent standard. If a site is attempting to sell several goods or services through affiliate links, it will be judged by an almost impossible standard. If your site includes affiliate links, you must not only have original content but also original content expressing original ideas--and done in a very original and appealing manner. The more affiliate links you include on your site, the better and more original your site must be to have any hope of inclusion.

You should spend some time reading through the threads on the ODP Public Forum discussion board before submitting your site. Much can be learned from seeing actual sites that are included and excluded and reading the editors’ explanations.


While it is tough to get a site with an affiliate link included in the Open Directory Project, consider it a challenge to your creative ability. Create a site that expresses original ideas in a unique way. Let the content of this site flow into your affiliate link in a natural, pleasing manner. Submission and review are free and inclusion in ODP will do much for the success of your site. If included in ODP, your site will likely show up in most major search engines over time.


Paying for Search Engine Attention and Ranking--An Overview. In our next lesson, we will begin to sort out the evolving world of pay-per-click, pay-per-inclusion, and keyword-triggered advertising.

by George Little
Copyright (year) Panhandle On-Line, Inc.
License granted to Carson Services, Inc. for distribution to SFI affiliates. No part of this work may be republished, redistributed, or sold without written permission of the author.

For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see

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