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How to Submit to the Open Directory Project

ODP refers to the Open Directory Project which was originally started as a volunteer run directory of the web under the name New-Hoo and Gnu-Hoo. After being acquired by Netscape the directory was renamed the Open Directory Project and it was crafted in such a way that anyone can use the category and website data provided they give proper copyright credit. As a result of this, Google, Netscape, AOL, and loads of other sites use the data every day. This has made the ODP an even more influential directory than even Yahoo today. The ODP is run by thousands of volunteer editors today, some running a single small category, and some running multiple categories, or having the ability to edit in the entire directory. The ODP is also overseen by a small staff of people from AOL/Netscape the parent company. The staff mainly looks after editor abuse issues and overall category structure ideas.

Types of ODP Editors Include

1. Regular Single Category Editors or Editors with Only a Few Categories

The bulk of the 50,000 plus editors mentioned on the ODP home page run a single category or two. That is or they did at some point and have now basically abandoned the upkeep of their categories. If your ODP submission is sent to a category with no active editor listed at the bottom then a higher level regular editor will be the one reviewing your submission or it will be an editall, or metaeditor.

2. Low Level Multi Category Editors

These editors edit in a large selection of categories or in high level categories with multiple subcategories.

3. Editalls

These editors have the ability to edit anywhere in the directory at will.

4. Editalls with Catmv

These are editors that have the ability to edit anywhere in the directory and move and rename categories.

5. Meta editors

These editors are basically editalls with the added responsibility of reviewing applications by others to be editors of categories.

6. Paid Staff

These few professionals are paid by Netscape/AOL to manage the directory, resolve disputes between volunteer editors, set policies for submissions, and examine potential volunteer editor abuses. They also edit in the directory but that is not their primary role necessarily.

How to Submit

To submit to the ODP it is best to submit via the ODP's website at You can submit to the ODP via forms found on all major sites that use ODP data for free such as Google or AOL, but the data all ends up at so you might as well just submit there.

First before even planning your submission you need to determine if your site is suitable for a listing in ODP.

Types of Submissions Generally Unacceptable for ODP Inclusion Include:

Dead links, make sure the url you submit is correct and working when it is submitted.

Sites Under Construction, with broken links or images, and "coming soon" pages. Submit when your site is absolutely ready and not before it is.

Mirror Sites which are sites that contain the exact same content as another site/submission that is already in the ODP.

Affiliate Sites which are sites that exist primarily to refer sales to other comapanies who in return give the webmaster a cut. Content sites with unique valauable content and that contain some affiliate links are acceptable however.

Illegal Sites which are sites dealing in beastility, child porn, or any other topic generally deemed illegal in the US or in general in the world.

Sites in Non English language which are submitted to English Language Categories. Submit non english sites to their appropriate non english category tree and appropriate category, if you don't they probably will either be deleted or take a very long time to finally get added in their proper spots.

Adult Submisions sent to non adult categories. These are promptly deleted and are often machine generated. If you have an adult submission that is appropriate for a listing submit it to the appropriate adult category. The adult category is not listed on the ODP home page but is found at in addition you can find appropriate adult categories to submit your given adult site to by searching directly for adult oriented keywords.

Machine Generated Submissions which are keyword filled submissions sent to hundreds or even thousands of unrelated categories which are promptly deleted when found.

Excessive Deep Link Submissions which come in many forms. This can include submitting more than one page of a given site to the same category or submitting mutiple one sentence pages to many categories. The ODP tries to classify the web via categories and topics and is not a listing ground for every single page of a given site. So for example you have a personal page that would be eligible for one listing in a personal page category perhaps and not 10 listings for each page of that site which all cover the same topic. In addition a given url submitted to the ODP is usually eligible for one listing, or perhaps two with one for its regional focus, and one for its business focus for example. If your site is truly content rich you should submit the appropriate site section to each category that applies and not the base url to every category that parts of your site relate to.

1. Find the most relevant category.

If you submit to a nonrelated category an editor might just delete your submission or it might move from category to category for some time until another editor either adds the site or deletes it. So starting off submit to the most appropriate category. To find the most appropriate category you should search with related keywords and see what categories pop up. If you don't find an appropriate category you should then browse from the ODP front page through their directories to try to find something that is close. If you search for url's of sites which are similar to yours, the categories they are in also shows up if they are in the ODP. You can find categories you didn't know existed often by doing this. Once you have found something as close as possible to your topic you should submit to that category.

2. Create a Relevant Title and Description

There is no incentive to stuff keywords into your title or description with ODP submissions. Most ODP traffic comes from Google or a site using them, and Google gives a higher page rank to ODP listed sites with no regard to the keywords in the ODP descriptions. In the past when Lycos and AOL delievered straight ODP in their search results, keyword stuffing made sense, now it doesen't benefit submitters at all really and just makes your submission less likely to be accepted. Now making an interesting relevant sounding description will benefit a submitter. It pays to look at the format of titles and description links in the category you are suggesting to. Some will have titles of the format Website - Page Title or Page Title - Website or Page Title: Website for example. Go with what the majority of sites in that category are using. Also use a description of the general length and style of the others in a given category.

Rules for Succesful Titles and Descriptions

Don't include Hype or phases like the best, free, buy now, or We're Number One in your Descriptions.

Don't include "and more" as this phrase only serves to hype a submission without giving any information about its content.

Don't include abbrieviations such as info, pics, vid, or others when possible.

Avoid writing in a subjective or conversational tone. Don't use phrases like we, or us, or our. Instead use objective terms like orgaization, business, or merchant.

Don't make your description too long. A paragraph about your site is not a good site description as descriptions need to be 10 to 15 words or so.

Tell what your site is about as specifically as you can. If your site is about painting don't have a description such as paint dealer, instead have one such as dealer of 18th century pre lead vinyl paints. Being specific makes your submission stand out to end users and makes editors think your site is more unique and is worthy of a listing.

Business sites and Commercial sites should use their company name as their title and not just a random keyword they think is cool.

Don't include pricing information or time sensitive things in your descriptions. A description stating specials are on Tuesdays or Dec 2003 there will be a big convention implies your site has little content, is not going to be updating often, and most importantly descriptions of this sort are inappropriate. ODP listings are meant to be basically static so descriptions should reflect what is true of the site year round and not its specials or time sensitive things.

Your description should be readable as if it was a normal sentence or phrase. A list of keywords or a jumble of fragmented enthusiasm is unacceptable.

Avoid the use of exclamation points, question marks, and captalization designed to get attention.

Don't be cute with spelling and use spelling like ur, kewl, or any other slang or mispelling.

Don't repeat words excessively in your descriptions. A description such as A dealer of mountain bikes, trail bikes, small bikes, big bikes, and little bikes is unacceptable. The word bikes could have been used just once.

Avoid repeating your title in your description if possible. If your site's title is Bobs TV land your description would not also have to start with Bob's TV Land.

Don't use phrases that don't add to your description. Things like welcome, come on in, and hello have no place in a description as they only waste space.

An example of an acceptable title and description would be: - History of the Widget

Features pictures, facts, and links about 19th century Widgets.

An example of an unacceptable title and description would be:

!My Site - The Best History of the Widget Site

cool stuff with pics, vid clips, and more.

As a general rule abbrievations and the terms pics should be avoided as they are not standard used words. The phrase "and more" is a way to hype a site without saying what it has, this also is not a good idea to include in a submission as an editor will probably then have a reason to reword your entire description. Avoid excess hype as many editors may just not even choose to look at your submission if they know they will have to do the work themselves to come up with their own description.

3. Doublecheck Your Url, Title, and Description

Before finally sending off your submission you should check to see everything is correct. This means checking to see that your url is not sent with a period at the end or with an html instead of htm ending if this applies or with an extra character or error of some sort that will make your url unreachable. Copy and paste your url into the submission form and when you are done paste it again into your browser to make sure you got it right. Make sure you have your title in the title field and your description in the description field and not the other way around. If your category, description, and title are correct you can now submit.

4. Submit and Check back every Few Weeks

Submit your site and check the category you submitted to every two weeks or so to see if you are listed. If you are not accepted after a reasonable period of time you can submit again. After that you can send polite feedback to the editor listed in your category by clicking in the name at the bottom of your category. If you get no response you can then submit to the editor of a higher level category and work your way up that way. Don't bother with these procedures if your site is not within the general guidelines for acceptance in the Open Directory Project though.