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Search Engine Optimization: Ten Suggestions for getting you site listed in the ODP... and ten things to avoid

by Robin Nobles

Over the past several months, the Open Directory Project has boomed in importance. In fact, some people feel that the ODP rivals in importance to the All-Important Yahoo!, which is a pretty awesome thought.

Why is the ODP so important? Because it provides directory results to Lycos, HotBot, Netscape, AOL Search, Google Directory, and the list goes on and on. Simply put, submitting to the ODP means that even if you can't get your pages indexed by Lycos, HotBot, or AOL Search, you'll still have a presence in those engines, thanks to the ODP.

So, what is the ODP? The Open Directory Project, formerly known as NewHoo, produces a comprehensive directory of websites by relying on a team of thousands of volunteer editors.

As an editor in several rather busy categories myself, let's discuss some do's and don'ts regarding submitting to the ODP.

Top Ten Suggestions for Getting Your Site in the ODP

  1. Submit in the proper subcategory! Spend some time cruising the ODP and choose the best subcategory for your site. If your site is in a language other than English, you'll need to submit to the World category.
  2. Create a businesslike and professional title and description. Be honest and sincere. Use your important keywords in your title and description.
  3. Complete the submission form accurately and completely. You wouldn't believe how many people complete the form and put the URL in the title's spot or don't enter a description at all. Make sure that the URL is listed correctly.
  4. Submit your main URL in the best subcategory. If you have an interior page that stands on its own and has a lot of relevant information, you can try submitting it into a second subcategory.
  5. List a "last updated on <date>" note on your site, but only if it's been updated very recently.
  6. Make your site the best it can be! Do all graphics load? Are there any broken links?
  7. Make sure that your site is easy to read with good color choices and an adequate sized font. Here's what one editor had to say:

    "A black background and deep red font might look good in theory, but just try to read it and see how you feel."

  8. If you have special requests, contact the editor of that category by clicking on the editor's name at the bottom of the category page. For example, let's say that you want your site to be listed in a third category, and you have a legitimate reason for wanting it. Contact the editor and explain your situation.
  9. When writing to an editor, BE NICE! Do you honestly think an editor will go out of his/her way to fulfill a special request if you send a nasty note? No!
  10. When writing to an editor, state your request simply and quickly. Editors don't have time to read through a mountain of information. Then, list your URL, the title of the site, a description, and the category (the complete path where you want the site listed). Don't make editors guess or have to figure out the category themselves. And, don't "demand" that your site be listed as cool!

Top Ten Things to Avoid

  1. Don't submit in upper-level categories, such as Sports: Basketball. Instead, submit to the proper and exact subcategory, such as Sports: Basketball: Officiating and Rules: Basketball Hand Signals.
  2. Don't just list keyword after keyword in the title or description. And, don't use an abundance of marketing hype in your title or description. Be professional!
  3. Don't create a description that goes on and on and on. A few sentences are fine, but don't make it any longer than that.
  4. Don't put your title and description in ALL CAPS.
  5. Don't submit your site until it's ready for traffic and has recently been updated. Don't have a lot of broken links on your pages or graphics that don't load. Sites with a huge "under construction" sign on the first page and little else aren't ready for traffic. Neither is a site that has a "last updated on <date>" that is months ago.
  6. Don't submit pages of your site to every single category that you can possibly think of that halfway pertains to your site. Few editors will allow a page or site to be listed in more than two categories. Keep in mind that the editors write notes to other editors about certain sites. The last thing you want is for a bunch of editors to make comments such as, "too many submissions," "repeat submissions," or even worse, "spamming the index."
  7. Don't submit your site every single day (or every other day) until it's accepted. If your site isn't indexed in three weeks, then submit it again, taking time to submit it properly.
  8. If your site is only one page, work on it some more. Build original content! Create some interior pages before you submit. Some editors won't accept a site if it consists of only one page.
  9. The ODP has really gotten strict about affiliate URLs, and those submissions are generally rejected immediately.
  10. Be careful about using technology such as flash, shockwave, etc., that requires the editor to download an addon in order to view the site. Many editors will reject those sites.

Keep in mind that ODP editors are "volunteers" who aren't paid, and they're very busy people with a multitude of submissions that pass over their desk. Make your submission easy to accept and you'll get in. Make it difficult for the editor and you're out.

In conclusion, if you have a top-notch site and have taken time to submit properly, you'll be able to land a spot in the All-Important ODP. Good luck!

This article was written by Robin Nobles. Over the past few years, she has trained thousands of people in her online and onsite courses in search engine positioning strategies.

This article was first published by Planet Ocean in their Search Engine News Update Newsletter.