Tips for Getting Listed in DMOZ

SEOMike has been a DMOZ editor for quite a while now. Editing a couple of high volume categories on DMOZ has opened his eyes to why it is really difficult to get a site listed in the directory. Want to know why? Because 80% of the submissions to categories are absolute junk. He’s constantly flooded by spam submissions and by people who just can’t quite figure out how to write their title and description. Here are some tips for getting included in DMOZ that should be generally applicable. (Be sure to reference the official submission guidelines, too.)

  • Be very careful choosing the category where you will submit your website. Unless your site is extraordinary, or there is an editor oversight, you will usually only get one, or maybe two listings. Get it right the first time.
  • Choose a category that is relevant to the OVERALL theme of your website. Don’t submit to every category related to every service your company offers.
  • Choose a category that has been edited recently. Many categories are “stale.” This is due to either low traffic, or low editor participation. There are almost 82,000 editors and I’m sure someone out there SOMEWHERE is a little lazy and doesn’t check their categories… ever. If the category you need to be listed in hasn’t been edited in a LONG time, try contacting an editor a level or two up from it.
  • Choose the correct regional category for your website. If your site is in Dutch, submit it to the Dutch version of your category, even if the English category has more pagerank. Editors will often miscategorize websites submitted in a foreign language and then it’s not likely to ever get listed. To most of the world, Dutch looks just like German (Deutsch). Also, if you submit a site in an Asian language to an English category, you can pretty much forget it. Better to submit it to the correct category.
  • Master English or hire a translator. If English is not your first language it really shows. Spend extra time formatting your submission request AND the English on your site. If your site is hard to read, it’s not likely to be listed. Why should I recommend a company to my English speaking visitors that doesn’t show mastery of the English language?
  • A link from DMOZ gets picked up by directories and sites all over the world. Google will often visit your site within just a few days of being listed.
  • Don’t submit your book to a category that’s not about books.
  • Don’t submit your get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not going to get listed either.
  • Don’t submit your “how to make money on the internet” blog or site. It’s not going to get listed.
  • Don’t submit a URL that redirects.
  • Finish your site. A site under construction won’t get listed.
  • Pop-ups annoy editors. They make them cranky. Especially those “floaters.”
  • Submit your site once to a category. If you haven’t seen it show up, ask politely for status. Be prepared for a response of “There’s nothing you can do short of changing your business model to get listed in my category.”
  • Do NOT attempt to bribe an editor. I get those emails all the time. They tell me they’ll link to my personal site, send $1,500 to my Paypal account, etc. etc. I make a note of the attempted bribe and a higher-up editor usually assigns the site a “DO NOT LIST” note and a red flag. If you try to bribe, you’ll never get in.
  • Don’t submit your affiliate site. You may get lucky and sneak one through, but we try hard to keep them out.
  • If you choose to contact the editor through the online form, don’t “CC the staff.” The DMOZ staff doesn’t care about your status update request email. Only CC the staff in your email if you think there is something very wrong that requires their attention.
  • Yes, the form to contact an editor gives an error sometimes. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t get your email. Don’t send the same thing twenty times. THAT’S annoying!
  • If you collect sensitive personal information from people (SSN, etc.) you must use SSL when collecting that information. This isn’t an official DMOZ guideline, but it is best practice and I won’t list sites that don’t use a cert.
  • If your company has multiple locations around the country / world, don’t submit them all to the same category. You won’t get them all listed and you’ll just make the editor mad. I get submissions from a company, WSI something or other, from all over the world. The guy from the company harassed me for a while asking why I wasn’t listing all his sites and was getting quite rude about it. One listing is all your company gets from my category buddy – stop harassing me or you won’t get any listings.
  • The title of your listing must be the title of your site / company. (If you’re forming a new company try using your target keyword in the business name so you can include the keyword in a DMOZ title.)
  • Your description must not be “salesy.” No “best,” “most affordable,” “trusted,” etc. We don’t allow promotional text in your descriptions. Besides, everyone thinks they are the best.
  • Don’t Capitalize Every Word In Your Description And Title.
  • Don’t tell the editor that you’ve placed a link to their category / DMOZ on your site. That doesn’t help get you listed. Thanks for the link. We’ll see it when we review your site.
  • There is no “auto approve” function in DMOZ. Your site will not accidentally slip through and get approved. Don’t spam the directory in hopes that your listing will appear everywhere someday by default.
  • Check your site’s browser compatibility.
  • Check your site’s functionality. If you have pages that 404 or self-targeted links, I won’t list your site.
  • DMOZ editors are generally pretty grumpy. They get frustrated with people not reading the submission guidelines and spamming their directories. When / if you contact them, be uber-polite. Remember, they have something you want, not the other way around.
  • Don’t email the editor the day after you submit your site to see why it’s not listed. We’ll get around to it. We won’t email you if you’re listed. We won’t email you if you are denied. Be patient. Check the category. Give it a month or two and then politely ask for an update. Be patient. DMOZ editors not only have their own work to do, but they also have to review hundreds of submissions every week.
  • You made it to the last tip and it’s a good one: If you want to let an editor know something special about your site, put it at the end of your description. Write something like ** Dear [editor], I have done my best to follow your submission guidelines. I feel we are particularly relevant to this category because of all the accolades my company received which you can review here: [url] If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at or call me at 123-456-7890.** Use the asterisks to set your message apart from your description. You can write as much as you want in the description box.

I hope these tips help you get your site listed in our outstanding directory. The Open Directory Project is a very powerful tool for increasing the position of your site in the search engines. The directory has been energized with an influx of a lot of really high quality editors. DMOZ is not dead, it’s entering into a new phase of it’s life.

I’ve got plenty more tips about SEO, DMOZ, PPC, and more. Be sure to check out my blog!