The DMOZ web directory was evaluated for Web Directory Reviews Org on Friday, August 29 and Saturday, August 30, 2014.

Note: Until last quarter, DMOZ was evaluated here as the Open Directory Project.


I didn't review the DMOZ directory in the first quarter of 2013, which was my first quarter of reviewing directories for Web Directory Reviews Org. I did review it in the second quarter, and it should be no surprise that it has been in my top ten ever since. It was #9 in the 2nd quarter, #10 in the 3rd quarter, and #7 in the 4th quarter of 2013. So far, in 2014, it ranked #7 in the 1st and #4 in the 2nd quarter. It has been reviewed under the name, Open Directory Project, until last quarter but, because the directory is rebranding itself as DMOZ, that is the name that I will be using.

Not to be redundant, I won't regale you with my story of being one of the early meta editors with DMOZ, although I knew it as the Open Directory Project, or the ODP, and I won't relate the interesting history of the directory, since I don't repeat that in every review. I am not now affiliated with DMOZ in any way, and have not been for more than a decade.

Although I do not consider SEO metrics to be a reliable indicator of the value of a directory, or any other website for that matter, I am well aware that it is in the nature of human beings to desire a standard by which to make comparisons, and SEO metrics serve that purpose. So, while I will not consider these metrics in my rating of a directory, I will discuss a few of them here.

Last quarter, I left out Google PageRank and Alexa Traffic Rank, as being among the least reliable of SEO metrics, but they are back by popular demand.

DMOZ has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to SEO metrics, as it enjoys a Google PageRank of seven, for its index page, while its internal pages rank several levels deep. Its Alexa Traffic Rank is 1,293. Its Majestic Trust Flow is 81 and its Citation Flow is 65. Its Moz Domain Authority is 95/100, the Page Authority of its index page is 95/100, the Page MozRank is 7.39, and the Page MozTrust is 7.05.

There is no charge for submitting a site to DMOZ, nor are there any paid options. On the down side, it can take years for one of the directory's volunteers to get around to reviewing your submission, if at all, although it might also be reviewed in a timely fashion, depending on the category it is submitted to. As a fully volunteer directory, some categories are actively maintained while others are neglected. I have submitted several sites to localities categories buried deep within the directory's regional category, some of which currently have no listed sites, yet have gone unreviewed for up to two years now, but some of these were submitted to categories that haven't been updated since 2007.

For SEO purposes, a link in DMOZ is a valuable link, although it doesn't cost you anything, so, by all means, submit the site, making sure that you have followed their guidelines and submitted the site to the most appropriate category. Once you have submitted it, forget it. Someone might get to it soon, it might take a few years, or perhaps no one will ever review the queue that your site has been submitted to. Either way, it hasn't cost you anything other than the time that it takes to submit it.

Okay, let's get on with the review. For the purposes of my ratings, I don't consider any of the things that I have talked about so far. The only things that I will be considering are those that might affect the experiences of a directory user. I will be examining these features in five general areas: aesthetics (10%), size (25%), intuitiveness (20%), quality (20%), and usefulness (25%). Additionally, up to five points might be added to the final score for extra content.

Aesthetics - 6/10

The design and general look of DMOZ has not changed much since it was first introduced in 1998, but its retro design can grow on you after a while.

The directory takes up only a small amount of real estate on the screen; on my screen, the content takes up just over half of the screen, the rest of it being left to white space.

Except for its Kids and Teens category, each of the directory's upper-level categories consist of only one word. As if that needless asymmetry were not enough, they compounded the problem by colorizing the first word of the category. Since several other directories copied them in this, I am well aware that not everyone agrees with me when I say that it looks stupid. I was a meta editor there when they began the Kids and Teens category, and I unsuccessfully argued against it then.

Other than that, the main menu of DMOZ has a symmetrical look, with fifteen upper-level categories arranged in five rows and five columns, with the World category taking up the bottom of the menu, with its links to the several language options that are available.

There is no advertising; or at least no third-party advertising, as they do advertise for volunteer editors, but that does not detract from the appearance of the directory at all.

Size - 25/25

Let's face it. DMOZ is huge. It is probably the largest web directory on the Internet.

Intuitiveness - 20/20

As I was heavily involved in the development of the DMOZ category structure, I may be biased in this area, or at least unable to understand why anyone might have any trouble finding anything in DMOZ.

In the beginning, the taxonomy of DMOZ was based on the Usenet newsgroup structure, but a professional taxonomist was brought on board, and several reorganizations have resulted in what I consider to be perhaps the most user-friendly category structure of any that I have seen.

This is effectively supplemented by a variety of features, such as above and below the line capabilities that allow its subcategories to be divided into as many as three sections, the use of See Also links, @links, and links to related topics in other language trees.

A few months ago, DMOZ introduced a few feature, which they refer to as Regional Trees, which will show results from all around a particular region, rather than just in one specific locality, but I haven't come across very many areas of its Regional categories where this has been implemented yet.

Lastly, its search feature is effective, returning results based on category names, site titles, or site descriptions. With more descriptive descriptions, searches would be even more effective but, still, the search feature on DMOZ is better than on most directories that I have reviewed.

Quality - 10/20

Due in large part, I believe, to the wide scope of the directory relative to its number of truly active volunteer editors, quality is an area where DMOZ falls down. Another contributing factor is the directory's longstanding policy of disallowing useful keywords in descriptions, preferring skimpy descriptions that say very little about the site or the business or organization that it represents.

While you will not find many examples of promotional language in DMOZ, and most of its listing titles will equal the actual title of the site, neither will you be apt to find descriptions that are truly descriptive, or particularly helpful. Site descriptions are brief sentence fragments, often consisting of only a few words.

There are also many empty categories, particularly at the lower levels of its Regional categories. When I was an editor there, the policy was that a category would not be created unless there were at least three useful sites to add to it. I believe that is still the case, but that, over the years, many of these sites are no longer in existence, and as its volunteer editor staff is not sufficient, or interested in seeking additional sites to add to these categories, they are left empty.

Usefulness - 16/25

DMOZ has the content, and it is organized in such a manner that a directory user ought to be able to find it, so the chief criteria for the usefulness of a directory is met. In fact, people often tell me that no one uses DMOZ as a directory. This is something that I heard even while I was a meta editor there, more than a decade ago, but my sites receive traffic directly from DMOZ, and not only my directory-related sites.

To its detriment are some of the issues that I've mentioned already, these being empty categories and insufficient site descriptions, as well as the fact that, while DMOZ does have category descriptions, they appear to be designed for site submitters rather than for directory users. Still, this is better than the many directories that I have come across that have no category descriptions at all.

Extra Content - 1

DMOZ includes an active blog, which describes new features and other information relating to the directory.

Overall Rating - 78%

On the basis of my evaluation of the DMOZ directory on Friday, August 29 and Saturday, August 30, I have rated it at seventy-eight percent.


While not the oldest directory on the Internet, DMOZ is surely a pioneer in web directories, setting the standard for many of the directories in existence today. Unfortunately, at least one of these standards is flawed, in my opinion; that is the use of sentence fragments rather than grammatically correct sentences.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking with it, unless someone yells at me or something.


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