Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Open Directory Project

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.

from George Little's Internet Income Course. Register to SFI for free and get immediate access to the complete 79-part course.

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