Feature: ODP Submission Tips
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How To Submit to ODP


In the immortal words of Open Directory Project editor Philc, who edits one of my favorite categories, "Comedy: Sitcoms: Frasier": "Think about what you are doing. Just because people eat broccoli while on vacation does not warrant the National Broccoli Institute having an entry in Travel."

If the category to which you want to submit has a description, FAQ, or guidelines section available, read them. FAQ's are new, so there aren't many out there yet, but check.

It is a good idea to search on the "keywords" which you feel describe your site. Find out where other sites similar to yours are listed, and submit there.

Make every effort to submit to the right category or sub-category. If your site is an ISP with access numbers only in east central Minnesota, do not submit it to Computers: Internet: Commercial Services or even to Computers: Internet: Commercial Services: Internet Service Providers: Access Provider List: USA, but to Computers: Internet: Commercial Services: Internet Service Providers: Access Provider List: USA: Minnesota. You may also submit to the Regional: Minnesota category without it being considered spam.

Submit your site to the highest level category which pertains and no higher. For example if you are a web designer who physically works in San Francisco but does business with people around the world, don't submit to every country's category. You will only upset the editors of those categories and eventually land yourself in the spammers category. Instead, submit to the Computers: Internet: Commercial Services: Web Design and Development: Designers - Global Service. If there is an alphabet bar in your category (as there is in the Designers - Global Service category),

If, on the other hand, you wish to do business only with clients in Mexico, submit only to Computers: Internet: Commercial Services: Web Design and Development: Designers - By Region: North America: Mexico.

If you provide more than one service (i.e. design, promotion, hosting, and graphics), the URL submitted to the Design category should be direct to the design services you offer. If your website is all-inclusive, or provides free design with a web hosting package, you might submit to the Web Presence Provider sub-category.

Submit sex sites to the Adult Category, which is indeed buried, but people who are looking for such sites will find them. Some editors are as young as 14, and they don't necessarily need to be reviewing such sites.

There are few sites which should be submitted to more than one or two categories. If you submit your site to more than that, be sure that it is appropriate to do so. For instance, if your main page and most of the site are about antique cars, then you would naturally submit the site to Recreation: Autos: Antique. If you have one page on the site that is about restaurants and cafes in Albuquerque where antique auto fans and dealers are known to hang out, you would additionally submit that page to Regional: US: New Mexico: Cities: Albuquerque: Restaurants.

And while we're on the subject of the Regional category, if you want local business exposure, submit to the appropriate Regional category.

As an editor for Computers: Internet: WWW: Search Engines: Submitting, I want to tell you that that category is ABOUT submitting to search engines on the web. It is NOT where one submits to those search engines. I know how tiring it gets to have to figure out where hundreds of submissions SHOULD go when they are submitted to that category, and it behooves you to keep the editor in a good mood when s/he is reviewing your site.

Submitter's Information

Leave an e-mail address. Many editors will notify you that your site has been added, tell you about problems with site functionality, and, if you're not accepted, some will even give useful feedback as to why.


Provide a site name that accurately represents the site. Do not use characters in order to push your listing to the top of the page, as that trick does not work here. Most Commercial categories require that you use the name of your company as a title. When in doubt, check out the other listings in a category and follow suit.

Use the actual Title of the website, not an advertisement. "FREE Kittens With Every Purchase of Our New Telephone Service" is not acceptable. "Gertrude's Telephone Service" is.


Type the URL correctly and in the proper location. I cannot count how many submissions I have seen that start out "http:///" or "http://ww.something.com." I have also seen quite a few with the title in the URL field and vice-versa. While you may be lucky enough to get an editor who will actually track down where your site really is, it is by no means a sure thing, and it is certainly not the job of an editor. If you don't care enough to enter it correctly, then no one else should be expected to.

Don't try to get listed twice by submitting the base URL http://www.nameofsite.com and the URL for the index page http://www.nameofsite.com/index.html. You will eventually be caught and may lose both listings. Along the same lines, do not use re-directs or aliases which lead to the same site. The ODP editors communicate extensively, and the last thing you want to do is get a reputation for this kind of trickery.


Use the description metatag on your site so the editors don't have to dig into the site trying to figure out what you are trying to convey. First of all, it's a lot to ask of an editor to figure out what to say about your site. Secondly, and more importantly, you will certainly be able to come up with something you like easier than an editor will.

Do not submit a list of keywords, but include a 1-2 sentence description that is both clear and conveys what the site is about.

Don't repeat the site title in the description. If your company is called "Acme Dynamite Company," do not use the description, "Acme Dynamite Company is the most explosive company in the industry." Instead, you might want to describe it like this: "A northern California demolition company which specializes in TNT and contracting."

Using the same Acme example, you would NOT use "The cheapest, best quality dynamite in the world! Buy one stick and get two FREE!!! Starting at $9.98. No one surpasses our noise!!!" First of all, the editor is not able to verify that it is the cheapest or the best quality, and you would be surprised at how many claim to be THE cheapest, best quality, most well-known of whatever they sell.

Phrases like "Come on in and see our website" have no value in a description, and editors will delete them.

"Welcome to" and "Kumquat's Home Page" are similarly deleted as titles.

Most editors will not leave your pricing in the description. That is the function of the site, not the directory.

Remove the all capital letters and exclamation points. If you don't, some editor will. As a rule, you'll want to use grammatically correct, spellchecked descriptions.

Limit your descriptions to a reasonable length. Remember that ODP editors edit for brevity as well as clarity.

Write descriptions in 3rd person. "We give massages on Sundays" may be true for you, and it has a place on your site. It is not true, for the most part, for the Open Directory Project, which is where people are reading the description.

Identify clearly who and what you do.  "Record store specializing in vinyl LPs" is preferable to "your one-stop music site."

If the subject matter of your site is very much specialized please give information on how the subject fits into a category. If your site is about Kerblabla Music, an obscure fusion of polka and Gothic music which is sung in a Dylanesque voice, please include that information and under what broad categories of music styles it fits.

Sites should have site descriptions in the given language. If the site is in Polish, the descriptions should be in Polish. If you submit the description in English, an English-speaking editor will go to review it and generally be unable to. It will then be moved to the Polish section where another editor will have to review it. That editor will then have to write a description in Polish.


A submitted site should have a working URL and not be under construction.

Make sure your site works. Check the navigation and readability before you submit it. An editor may fix things in a submission but cannot fix a badly done page. That is your job. In such cases, many editors will delete the submission.

That includes sites too full of spam to find the content listed in the submission.

If confidential information is being requested, make certain it is a secure site. Most editors will not approve any site asking for confidential information without it being encrypted.

Remember that this is an index built by humans, not 'bots.

Using tricks that will get your website listed first in search engines will not work here and may keep you from being listed at all.


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