The Dmoz directory

dmoz-geek

The bigger directory on the Web is that of Google, and actually the directory of Google is the Open Directory Project (ODP) better known under the name of its website, Dmoz.org.

The directory was founded under the name Gnuhoo by Rich Skrenta and Bob Truel in 1998 who worked for the Sun company. The name being denied by the Free Software Foundation, it becomes NewHoo. But then Yahoo denied in turn the “Hoo” part and that has coincided with the acquisition by Netscape in October 1998, the definitive name becomes Open Directory Project.
The aim of competing with Yahoo directory is reached in April 2000 with 1600000 URLs listed (the number of sites being below that).
The name of the site, Dmoz, means for Directory Mozilla, for the name of the open source version of the Netscape Navigator, which was launched after the purchase of the Netscape company by AOL.

The directory is a unparalleled source of documentation and remains essential for referencing a website even if it has lost importance over time.

The number of unique visitors per day is an average of 210000 and can go up to 250000, each visitor views an average of 3.3 pages.
Dmoz employs a very limited number of persons in different countries: United States (Dulles), India, Australia, China.
While webmasters tend to understate the importance of Dmoz, the Alexa graph shows that its audience was growing in 2010 and 2011.

Dmoz is it an help for SEO?

According to Matt Cutts, a Dmoz link is treated as a link from any site, but it brings a little more PageRank because it is managed by independent publishers.
However, this is an old communication. The contents of the directory is copied by many sites, and it may as well penalize a site due to the recent algo Penguin. It must be ensured that the link leads traffic.
The descriptions are also sometimes used for snippets for the same reason. But the description in the meta of the page is the best source.
Actually, MC reminds us that the robots.txt file is used to prevent robots to parse the pages and not to de-index them (although this can sometimes have this effect).

How to add his site

A website may be proposed by seeking the most appropriate category, and clicking on the “Submit a website” link. The delay for inclusion in the directory is sometimes long.
To have the best chance to appear quickly, we must:

  1. Choose the most appropriate category.
  2. Write a short description reflecting the content of the site without promotional sentences. The title is the name of the site.

How to become editor

The number of editors who participated in the indexing in 2007 is more than 75000 and the number of sites listed nearly 5 millions. The number of currently active editors is less than 7000.

When a category has no editor, it is proposed to become editor. it A link is displayed at the bottom of the page to do so.
The candidate will be asked to furnish three sites not listed in the directory yet. This requirement is intended to demonstrate his involvement in the domain, and his ability to write a summary, in good english.
He will be more likely to be accepted if he choose a modest subcategory rather than major one with subcategories.

Who uses the data?

Data from the ODP directory is available under a free license, the Open Directory License. Thus quantities of sites are hosting legal copies of the directory. Such is the case to Google, which adds PageRank to sites and order them according to the PR. Alexa did the same but ranking is depending on the traffic on the Web, as explained in the link.

At the same time the data are used by many search engines that often use descriptions made by Dmoz editors in pages of results.
It is possible for the webmaster who would prefer the description of its home page displayed instead, to do so with this line in the head section of the HTML code:

<meta name =”robots” content =”noodp”>

Among the engines who make use of the titles and descriptions from ODP are included: Google, Yahoo, Live Search, Alexa, Ask. But all engines have indexed ODP and thus are using its contents for indexing new sites!
Since July 20, 2011, Google has stopped offering a directory containing the contents of Dmoz. The user is redirected to the dmoz.org site.

The contents of ODP is also the basis of scientific articles, and research and experiences on the Web. Actually data in the directory is provided in the RDF format and free to use.