In case this is all Greek to you, it won’t soothe you to hear me say that DMOZ – the open directory project – the noblest directory of them all – once king of directories and championed by Google- will cease to exist mid-March. While some SEOs are taking this announcement as a final stab in the back from Google, others welcome it as a long overdue succession of SEO strategy.
The death of DMOZ brings with it the end of an era of SEO. As SEOs we are sometimes masters of our own fate (ok last Caesar quote I promise) and this change is no different. DMOZ represented the old way of SEO – even though it never should have. To understand this paradigm shift, what happened, and where we go from here we’ll need to jump in our wayback machine and understand what DMOZ was at its inception.
RIP Open Directory Project
In the beginning, search engines sucked. A lot. We’ve all heard the stories of keyword stuffing and meta tags run amok and white text on white background. These early SEO tactics in the pre-Google (heck, even pre-Alta Vista) days caused search results to just plain suck. In the circa late 90’s days of dialing into AOL or Prodigy with a 28.8 modem, most people didn’t use (or even have access to) search engines. In those days, directories were how we found and discovered new websites.
Google was created during this same time period, and the creators were focused on links – but not just any links. Valuable links from quality and authoritative websites. So when Google told us to go and get directory links, they were really saying “Hey, see these sites like Yahoo and DMOZ? Lots of people go there and use them and trust them, so that’s probably a good place to get a link.”
Unfortunately, all we SEOs heard was “get directory links” so we started creating directories that nobody ever visits so that we could fill them up with links. At one point we even created directories of directories. This wasn’t what Google was talking about in their directory link advice. While users still continued to use Yahoo and Dmoz, the only visitors to our new SEO directories were rudimentary bots that let us “power submit” our spammy links.
These days, the message has changed. Thanks to Penguin and other recent algorithm changes most SEOs have running around parroting advice about not getting directory links. Again, missing the point. It’s not the directory part that matters.