Becoming an Open Directory Project Editor
By Sumantra Roy
Getting your site registered by the Open Directory(http://www.dmoz.org) is vitally important as far as search engine positioning is concerned. In order to see how you can do that, see my article aboutsubmitting to the open directory project. However, sometimes, it may so happen that try as you might, you just do not manage to get your site listed in the Open Directory. Or, it may also happen that the description under which your site is listed is not optimum.
In this case, the only solution is to become the editor of the category to which you want to submit your site. Here's how you should go about doing it.
First, go to any category of the Open Directory and click on the "become an editor" link at the top of the screen. If that category does not contain such a link, simply go to a lower level category which does contain such a link.
Now, read the third paragraph, which says that the Open Directory does not bar editors who have business affiliations with the category. In practice, however, it will reject just about any new editor who has a business affiliation with the category. If you scroll down the page, you will find that the Open Directory asks you whether you have any business affiliation with the category. If you admit to having an affiliation with the category, you will most certainly be rejected.
Now, you may think that you can solve this problem by not admitting that you have any business affiliation with the category. However, the Open Directory also asks you about your experience or interest in the category. For a category which deals with business related sites, it is very difficult to project your expertise in it without admitting that you are affiliated with it.
Hence, your strategy should be to locate a category in which you can legitimately show some experience and interest without having to admit that you have any business affiliation. By far the easiest way to do this is to become an editor of a regional category which deals with the city in which you live. Once you can become an editor of one category, it is usually much easier to become the editor of the category to which your site belongs. This is because when an existing editor applies for a new category, the Open Directory does not ask for his/her experience or interest in the category.
Here are the steps you should follow in order to become an editor of the category applicable for your web site:
1) Start off by going to the Open Directory. Click on the Regional category, then click on the continent in which you live, and then on the country. In this way, drill down to the category for the city or locality in which you live. Now, scroll down to the bottom of the page and see whether that category already has an editor. If it does not, this is the category for which you should try and become an editor. However, if this category already has an editor, don't apply to this category because the Open Directory does not generally accept a new editor in a category which already contains an editor. In this case, select a category below the current category which does not have an editor.
2) Once you have selected the correct regional category, click on the "become an editor" link at the top of the screen and fill in your first name, last name, email address, username and password. For the "Describe your experience and interest in this subject area:" text box, just say something like "I am a resident of X.", where X is of course the name of your city or locality. In the "What is your Business Affiliation with this category?" text box, say something like "I have no business affiliation with this category."
The Open Directory now asks you for 2 or 3 sites which you would have added to the category had you been an editor of the category. The best way to do this is to let Yahoo! do the work for you. Open a new browser window, go to Yahoo! and search for the name of your city. Yahoo! will list several categories and sites for that city. Browse through these sites and categories and select a site which is applicable for the category to which you are applying. Now, open another browser window, go to the Open Directory's home page and type in the domain name of the site in Open Directory's search box and note whether that site is already listed in the Open Directory, either in the category to which you are applying or elsewhere. If it is not listed, then this can be one of the sites which you should submit. If it is already listed in the Open Directory, then ignore this site and select a new site and check whether that site is already listed in the Open Directory.
In this way, select three sites which are applicable for the category to which you are applying and which are not already present in the Open Directory. Type in the URL for the first site in the appropriate text box. Now, you need to select a proper title for the site. The title that you choose should always be the official name of the site. If the official name of the site is not apparent from the home page itself, browse around the site and look at the "About Us" or "Contact Us" pages (if the site has those pages). Also, check out the bottom of each page to see if the site has any Copyright notice. Once you know the official name of the site, type it in the correct text box. Now, choose a proper description of the site. Here are the rules for writing a proper description for the Open Directory:
i) Make sure that the description can tell a visitor what the site is all about. Things like "Have a look at the site" does not tell a visitor what the site does.
ii) 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.
v) Don't make your description too long - limit yourself to 15 words at the most.
vi) Check your description for typos and grammatical mistakes.
vii) End your description with a period.
Once you have typed in the URL, Title and Description of the first site, do the same for all the three sites and click on the Submit button.
The Open Directory will soon send you an email asking you to send a confirmation. Simply reply to that email to confirm your application.
3) If you have followed the above instructions, within 2 or 3 weeks (if you are lucky, it will be sooner), you should get an email saying that you have been accepted as an editor. Go to the Open Directory and log in as an editor. Read the Directory Guidelines thoroughly and familiarize yourself with them. Your objective from now on is to become an editor of the category which is applicable for your site. When you apply to become an editor of this category, the Open Directory will evaluate the quality of your editing in the category which you already edit, and will see whether your editing meets all the guidelines. Hence, it is very important that you know the guidelines thoroughly.
After this, check out whether there are any unreviewed sites (i.e. sites which have been submitted to the category but which have not yet been reviewed by an editor) in the category of which you are the editor. If so, evaluate all the unreviewed sites, and add the sites which are applicable for the category and delete the remaining sites which are not applicable. When you are adding sites, make sure that these sites are really applicable for the category. Also make sure that the Title and the Description that have been used are appropriate for the Open Directory. If they are not, edit them so that they meet the Open Directory guidelines. Sometimes, you may be at a loss to understand whether or not a particular site should be in the category. If you are not feeling comfortable about adding a site, don't add it. There is no harm in not adding a site which is applicable. However, if you add a site which is not applicable, you will be at a disadvantage when you apply to become the editor of the category which is applicable for your site.
Also, browse through all the sites which are already present in the category. Edit the Title and Description of any site if it does not meet the Open Directory guidelines. If you feel that a particular site that is listed in the category does not belong to the category, post a message in the Editor Forum and ask the other editors of the Open Directory as to whether the site belongs to the category. If they say that the site does not belong to the category, delete the site.
4) Within 2 or 3 weeks from the time that you are accepted as an editor, you should have cleaned up the category. By this, I mean that your category should not have any unreviewed sites, and should not contain any site which does not belong to the category. Also, the Title and the Description of all the sites present in the category should follow the Open Directory guidelines.
Now, it is time to apply to the category which is applicable for your site. Click on the "Bookmarks" link in the main Editor page, scroll down and click on the "[Add @link]" link. In the "Category to link to:" text box, type in the complete path to the category which is applicable for your site. For instance, for the Computers: Consultants: Business Systems category, I would type in "Computers/Consultants/Business Systems". In the "Link name:" text box, type in a word or phrase which describes this category.
The Open Directory will now display a link to the category in your Bookmarks section. It will also display the number of sites which are present in the category and the number of new (unreviewed) sites. Note down the figure for the number of unreviewed sites. If the category does not contain any unreviewed sites, the Open Directory will only display the number of sites present in the category.
Now, go to the category which you want to apply to and browse through all the sites. Generally, there will be some sites for which the Title and/or the Description does not meet the Open Directory guidelines. Make a note of these sites. Also note whether that category already has an editor.
Once you have gone through all the sites, scroll down to the bottom of the category and click on the "edit" link. When you are asked to explain why you want to apply to the category, mention the number of unreviewed sites which are present in the category (assuming that the category does have some unreviewed sites). Also, mention the fact that the Title and the Description for some of the sites are inappropriate for the Open Directory. Give examples of a few such sites. If that category does not already have an editor, mention that fact too.
Use the same methods discussed earlier to fill up the remaining fields and click on the Submit button.
5) After applying to the new category, log in as an editor every day or so, until you find that you are listed as an editor of that category. Then, add your site to this category, or, if your site is already listed but does not have an optimum description, change the description.
Wrapping things up:
Remember that other editors who edit higher level categories will be looking at your category from time to time and may change your site's description if it is not found to be appropriate. Hence, while you should try to give your site an optimum description, you should not violate any of the Open Directory guidelines.
Also, the Open Directory allows editors to cool certain sites if they feel that these sites are the best in that category. If a site is cooled, it is listed at the top of the category, even though its alphabetical placement may have been a lot lower. Avoid the temptation to cool your own site. Because so many editors try to cool their own sites, the Open Directory keeps a sharp look-out for this practice. Cooling your own site will simply draw attention towards you.