DMOZ, Search Engine Spam & Backlinks

Any one with any experience trying to get a site listed on DMOZ, knows that most of the time it can be a battle. One of my sites I have submitting 4 times over the last 2.5 years, without it being listed! This happens for various reasons, the most common is the editors just don’t care, or they don’t have time to maintain their category. The second was they seem to constantly have technical difficulties, at one point they lost several months worth of submissions (Although they don’t admit to this fact). Check out this Form posting here to see just a few of their recent issues.

But that is just a side note as to why my faith was originally lost with this fine directory. Last week I was working on optimizing a client website, and was looking at the SERPs for their keyphrase. They are currently trying to compete for a state wide health insurance keyphrase (ie Alaska health insurance but a much higher competition state). And I noticed an anomaly in the results all the sites listed were between PR4 – 7, except for a single PR2 site. Let me tell you how quickly alarm bells went off. After a quick analysis of their backlinks I quickly discovered how they manipulated their results.

The website followed the standard header, top navigation, left navigation, then right content. Now this is how they got sneaky, in their header instead of their company name they listed their keyphrase (ie Alaska Health Insurance), with their real company name listed under the left navigation in small text. Then submitted their website to DMOZ under there keyphrase, and had it accepted in the regional health insurance page!

Now you might be asking how can just a DMOZ listing make such a different in a sites results? Firstly DMOZ is rather old with a lot of authority the Web Archive lists its first version cached as Jan 25, 1999. Secondly DMOZ isn’t just one site, anyone can take the data from the directory and post it any where they like. So you can easily end up with 2 dozens links just from one submission over the course of time (I don’t think most people tend to re-download the data set after the first time they set it up, so get listed as soon as possible).

So being a good netizen (Internet Citizen), and purely with the Google and the quality of the Internet at heart I filled out the “report abuse/spam” form documenting what had happened. Needless to say I was shocked when I looked at DMOZ yesterday to find out that in less then a week they had updated the listing with the actual companies name. As a result they have currently dropped from position 5 to 8, and I’m sure they will continue to drop at least a few more pages.

Maybe it just might be time again to submit my site to DMOZ!

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