Forest Software

Web, SEO and IT & Business Advice for the Smaller Business

What is DMOZ?


This is an archive page for those visitors who have heard about DMOZ - the site closed down in March 2017 and is no longer available. We have left this page on our site so that people how read old articles about DMOZ can see what it was all about.


You may have heard of a website called DMOZ and wondered what it was and whether it could help your own website. This article aims to explain what it is, why it takes so long to get listed, why some sites are rejected and a little bit about the DMOZ editors.


DMOZ (also known as the Open Directory or ODP) is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web with over 4 million websites listed. A web directory is like a huge reference library. The directory is hierarchically arranged by subject - from broad to specific. It is built and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors who are responsible for one or more individual categories (with other editors) of the directory. Every website and page that is added to the directory has to be manually reviewed before it is included. Being listed in the directory is free, you can not pay to be included in DMOZ.

Getting a website listed in DMOZ can be very frustrating. As webmasters we know that, because the directory is used by many sites, getting listed will probably help our search engine rankings, but getting in can take a very long time.

In this article I will explain why it often takes so long and why what you do when submitting your site is sometimes the cause of the delay. But first I will explain what DMOZ is and why it is worthwhile for websites to be listed in it.

Very few people actually use DMOZ for searches in the same way that Google is used, so the directory itself is of little value in generating traffic. However, its data can be freely downloaded, and any website, however small, can use it. One major website that downloads and uses DMOZ's data is Google. In fact, Google's directory is nothing less than the downloaded DMOZ directory. In fact, our Business Directory uses a feed from DMOZ

Entries in DMOZ do though have some significant effects for websites that are listed in DMOZ. PageRank is an integral part of Google's ranking algorithm, and higher PageRank helps towards higher rankings. The PageRank within a website is increased by pages from other sites linking to it, and the higher the PageRank of the pages that link to it, the better it is for the receiving site.

A listing in DMOZ creates two significant links into a website - one from DMOZ (Google spiders DMOZ just like it does any other site) and one from the Google directory. Both of these usually have decent PageRank. Then add the links from the thousands of smaller sites that have downloaded and use the DMOZ directory, and you can see why it is usually quite beneficial for a website to be listed in DMOZ. Simply being listed in DMOZ can take a website from a Toolbar PageRank value of 3 to 4, and even from 4 to 5 due to the number of incoming links to the web site.

Why does it take so long to get listed?

At the time of writing, the front page at DMOZ states there are 68,983 editors who review and add websites to the directory, but this is fairly misleading. There are not really that many editors, or anywhere near that many. The 68,983 is the total number of editors that have signed up since the project started. Many of them are no longer editors. Of the ones that are still editors, a significant proportion of them are not actually active or only log in every so often. This means that the number of editors who are actively reviewing and adding websites is relatively small.

On the other side of the equation, there is a massive backlog of sites waiting to be reviewed. Each editor can only edit in his or her own categories (there are currently 787,774 categories) . Some editors have small categories with very few submissions to deal with, and they can be dealt with very quickly. Others are simply overwhelmed by the mountain of unreviewed sites, and there is little chance of getting through them in the near future. Of course there are many categories that no longer have an active editor and any sites added to these categories face a very long wait.

But the huge backlog, and the relatively low number of active editors, are not the only reasons why websites seem to wait forever to get listed. Often the delay is the fault of the person who submitted the website. Imagine that someone submits a site to a category that is reasonably close to what the site is about (for example Regional/Europe/United_Kingdom/Travel_and_Tourism/Accommodation/Hotels) , but the site really belongs in a different category (Regional/Europe/United_Kingdom/Travel_and_Tourism/Accommodation/Inns/). What happens? The submission waits in the unreviewed queue of the category to which it was submitted. Sooner or later its turn comes and the editor reviews it, but finds that it belongs in a different category. That editor can't edit the other category (remember that editors can only edit their own categories), so the submission is passed along to the other category, where it is added to the unreviewed queue. It doesn't jump the queue just because it has already waited in a different queue. Eventually its turn will come again and it will be reviewed - again. Of course, it's possible that the first editor has sent the site to a category that is closer to where it belongs but not necessarily to the exact one. The editor there eventually gets to it, and sends it a bit further towards the right one - maybe to the right one this time, and maybe not - and the delays mount up just because the person who submitted the site didn't take enough time to make sure that it was submitted to the right category in the first place. If the submitter can't be bothered, why should anyone else be all that bothered?

So, when submitting a site, always take time to find the right category for it. Don't be tempted to submit it to a category that is higher up the tree than it belongs, because it won't be accepted there and, doing so, could cause unnecessary, self-inflicted delays.

Why are some sites rejected?

DMOZ's policy is to include sites that have unique content, which means that many sites don't qualify for inclusion. Among the sites that are likely to be rejected are those that have too much content of an affiliate nature. Some affiliate content is acceptable but when it occupies too much of a site, then the site will probably be rejected.

Another reason why a site may be rejected is because of the submission. If the Title and Description provided in the submission don't follow DMOZ's guidelines for the category, then some editors will think, "If you can't be bothered to spend a little time on it, why should I bother rewriting it for you?", and reject the site. Personally, I find it hard to believe that editors would do that, and in fact try to update the title and description on any sites that I approve where necessary, but I've heard of it happening. So, when submitting a site, read and follow the guidelines. The description is intended to give people an objective statement of what can be found in the site, and not to promote it.

People are not informed that their site has been rejected, or even in many cases when it has been accepted, and there must be many people out there who think their submissions are still pending when, in fact, they've already been rejected.

About the DMOZ editors

As I mentioned earlier, there are not many active editors when compared to the number shown on DMOZ's front page and the number of categories, but most of those that are active are keen. They are keen to add websites that have unique content, and keen to improve the directory. They also have a fair amount of knowledge about their individual categories. Contrary to what some people think, they do care about the directory and about adding new sites, but they have an uphill struggle both because there aren't enough of them and because of the standard of some of the submissions.

Of course if you want to help edit DMOZ the best way is to find a category that interests you and that you have some experience in, then click on the "Become an Editor" link, reads the tips and advice, complete the application form and wait for approval from a senior editor.

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