Submitting Your Site to the Open Directory
By Sumantra Roy (c) 2005
Getting your site an optimum listing in the Open Directory is vitally important as far as search engine positioning is concerned because Google assigns a lot of importance to sites being listed in the Open Directory.
Before you submit your site, go through your entire site and ensure that there are no missing graphics, no links leading to empty or non-existent pages and no "Under construction" symbols. Also, check for typos and grammatical errors. Furthermore, your site must provide good content. If your site simply contains links to various affiliate programs, you will find it difficult to get through. The Open Directory does not mind sites containing links to affiliate programs, as long as you provide proper content.
You now need to select the two most important keywords for your site based on their popularity. If you don't yet know the keywords which are applicable for your site, have a look at my article on Choosing the Correct Keywords for Your Site.
In this article, I have mentioned that while selecting the keywords for your site, you should look at both the popularity of the keywords as well as their competitiveness. However, for the purpose of this article, don't worry about the competitiveness - select keywords only on the basis of popularity.
We now discuss how you should write the Title and Description of your site's listing in the Open Directory. You don't really have much choice regarding the Title since the Open Directory insists that the Title be the official name of your site. There is no way around it.
When you write the description, your aim should be to make the Open Directory editor's job as easy as possible. You should not give the editor the feeling that he/she needs to edit your description in any way. The moment an editor starts to edit your description, you risk having your keywords removed from your description.
Your description should be a single sentence which conveys what your site is all about and contains the two keywords you are targeting as close as possible to the beginning of the description. However, your description should not just be a list of keywords - the description that you use should be a proper sentence and should be grammatically correct
Broadly, here are the rules that you should remember when forming the description:
i) Make sure that the description can tell a visitor what your site is all about.
Things like "Have a look at our site" or "Welcome to my site" does not tell a visitor what your site does.
ii) Avoid hype of any sort.
Avoid using ALL CAPS or exclamation marks. Phrases like "The best web site dealing with widgets!!" or "Offers the BEST QUALITY, CHEAPEST WIDGETS you can find anywhere" are inappropriate.
iii) Don't capitalize every word in your description
capitalize only the first word. Of course, if some of the words in the description are proper nouns, then you should capitalize them.
iv) Write the description in the third person.
Don't say "We offer financial planning and credit counselling services", say "Offers financial planning and credit counselling services.".
v) Don't make your description too long
limit yourself to 15 words at the most. If you are lucky, you may be able to get accepted with a description longer than 15 words. However, the longer the description, the higher the probability that the editor will want to edit it.
vi) Check your description for typos and grammatical mistakes.
vii) End your description with a period. If the editor has to add the period to the end of your description, she may also end up editing the description, which is not what you want. Your aim is to have the editor accept the exact description that you had written in order to ensure that your keywords are not removed from the description.
Now, we come to how you can select the right category for your site. Go to the Open Directory, and search for the two keywords you have established. Does a particular category come up at the top for both the keywords? If so, go to that category, and see whether the sites present in the category are similar to yours. Also see whether that category has a Description and/or a FAQ. Read them and find out whether that category is applicable for your site. If so, this is the category you should submit your site to.
If different categories come up at the top for the two keywords, go through all the categories and find out which is the most appropriate category among the different categories.
For some keywords, you will find that the Open Directory does not display any categories. In this case, find out which category most of the top sites belong to and submit your site to that category, assuming it is applicable for your site.
Once you have selected the right category, click on the "suggest URL" link at the top. Type in the address of your site in the first text box, the official name of your site in the next text box, the description that you have earlier developed in the third text box and your email address in the fourth text box. Although the Open Directory says that including the email address is optional, I would recommend that you include it - if, for some reason, your site is not accepted, the Open Directory editor may want to tell you why your site has not been accepted.
What To Do if Your Site is Not Accepted
After submitting your site, go to the category where you have submitted your site every day and see when your site gets listed. If you find that your site is not in that category, it may so happen that you have been placed in a different category. Type in your domain name in Open Directory's search box and see whether your site comes up in the results. I have seen some sites getting accepted within 1 day and some sites in about 2-3 weeks.
If your site has not been listed after three weeks, then re-submit it to the same category and wait for another three weeks. If your site is still not accepted, then have a look at your site again. Does it contain any missing images or links, links to empty pages or under construction signs? Does it provide good content? Does it have any spelling or grammatical errors?
If you are absolutely convinced that your site is eligible for being accepted by the Open Directory, then the fact that your site is not being accepted may signify one of two things:
i) The editor of that category is inactive, i.e. he/she has not been reviewing sites for a long time.
ii) He/she is your competitor, and does not want to list you.
In this case, the first step is to write to the editor of the category.
Scroll down to the bottom of the category to which you are trying to submit your site and click on the name of the editor. If that category does not have an editor, go to the category above that in the hierarchy.
For instance, suppose you are trying to submit to the Computers: Consultants: Business Systems category.
At the time of writing of this article, that category did not have an editor. In this case, you should go to the Computers: Consultants category and click on one of the editors there.
Click on the "Send to editorname" link, and in the Comments field, write a very polite message to the editor.
Tell her that you have been trying to submit your site to the Open Directory and you have been unsuccessful.
Give her the complete details of your submission, i.e. the category to which you submitted, your URL, the Title and the Description that you used and the dates on which you submitted.
Ask her as to whether there are any mistakes that you are making and whether she would be kind enough to point out the mistakes to you so that you can correct them.
If, after two weeks, you don't get any reply from the editor and are not accepted into the Open Directory, then look for another category which is applicable for your site using the method outlined earlier and submit your site to this category.