PROMOTING YOUR TRANSLATION WEB SITE THROUGH THE OPEN DIRECTORY
Disclaimer: Although I myself am an ODP volunteer editor who might review translators' web sites, I do not represent the ODP in any official capacity.
The ODP is a gigantic, organised links list. The ODP's data is used by several search engines (such as Google) to either supplement or determine search results.
If you are a professional translator and you have a web site, then do yourself a favour, and try to get your site listed in the Open Directory (ODP for short).
Table of contents
- The submission and listing process
- Required content for listing
- Well-written titles and descriptions
- Description update requests
- Other issues: required plugins and specific browsers
- Other issues: cloaking, forwarding, templates and profile pages
- Other issues: multiple listings, multilingual sites and deeplinks
- Common myths and facts about the ODP
- Ten tips for speedy listing!
THE SUBMISSION AND LISTING PROCESS
Web sites in the ODP are listed by category. Typically, any web site can only be listed in a single category, although there are exceptions. Before you submit your site for listing, therefore, try to find the most appropriate category for it.
If you submit your site to a wrong or inappropriate category, the editor of that category will try to determine which category or category tree is most appropriate for your web site, and forward your submission to it. This will, however, delay the listing of your submission.
If your web site is about your professional translation services, you would probably submit the site to one of the subcategories of Business/ Business_Services/ Communication/ Translation.
Deciding which subcategory is actually fairly simple. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you primarily offer translation, interpreting or editing?
- If "translation", do you offer translation in one language combination or more than one language combination?
- If "more than one", what is the physical location of your translation business?
If you offer mostly editing and little or no translation or interpreting, please submit your site at:
Business/ Business_Services/ Communications/ Writing_and_Editing
If you offer mostly interpreting, please submit your site at:
Business/ Business_Services/ Communications/ Translation/ Interpreting
If you offer mostly translation, and you translate in one language combination only, please submit your site according to that language combination at:
If you offer mostly translation, and you translate in more than one language combination, please submit your site according to your business's physical location at:
When submitting your site for listing, you have the opportunity to write a listing Title and Description. We'll discuss how to optimise these entries later in this article.
The submission is queued for review in the selected category along with all previous submissions. Editors can see all submitted sites on a single screen, and do not necessarily review sites in chronologically submitted order. Submissions with well-written Titles and Descriptions that conform to the category's house style, are often reviewed first.
The ODP software automatically checks to see if your site has been submitted previously, whether it is already listed, and whether any other editors have written notes about your site in the past.
Any editor with editing rights in that category will eventually review your submission by actually visiting the site, comparing it with the submitted Title and Description, making any required changes to the Title and Description, and adding your site to correct category, if appropriate. Editors can also delete submissions which are inappropriate for whatever reason.
REQUIRED CONTENT FOR LISTING
The ODP accepts only sites with quality content that is unique. For the business section of the ODP, this principle is interpreted to mean that any company gets only one listing, and that companies offering similar products should not have identical content on their web sites. This is good news for freelance translators, because freelancers are all different people, and they all offer individual services, don't they?
In the ODP, professional translation is regarded as a subset of business-to-business services, and for that reason submitted sites should also contain at least the following: the name of the company or freelancer, a description of the service offered, and valid contact details.
Another stipulation of the ODP is that listed sites must not be visibly incomplete. Even if your site is incomplete, take steps to make it appear complete. If you originally planned for 10 subpages, but only three have been completed, then simply remove the links to the other seven pages and temporarily redesign your navigation bar to show only the three existing subpages of your site. A site is considered incomplete if some links don't work, or if some linked pages do not contain a fair amount of content. Some people think that "under construction" notices are cute, but ODP editors don't.
WELL-WRITTEN TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS
Submitters have the opportunity to write their own Titles and Descriptions. ODP editors then change these titles and descriptions to match the house style of the category. If your submitted title and description is well-written and consistent with the category's style, the ODP editor might even accept it without changing it.
Titles and Descriptions must not be loaded with keywords, nor may they contain any subjective comment or information. As a rule, the Title and Description should not contain the words used in the category name, but this guideline is largely unenforceable in the translation categories. Even so, a company named "XYZ Spanish and English Translations Inc" may find its ODP listing saying simply "XYZ Translations Inc" or even simply "XYZ" if the editor had regarded the longer name as an attempt to load the title with keywords.
Elsewhere in the ODP, the Title of the listing is the same as the title of the web site, and the Description of the listing contains a description of what can be found on the site. However, in the translation categories, the title of the listing is taken from the name of the company or freelancer, and since most translation web sites have pretty much the same type of content (ie "intro page, services page, languages page, rates page, contact page"), the description of the listing in the translation categories contains certain key information about the company, to be useful to end-users of the ODP.
In the ODP's translation categories, the ideal description contains the following:
- Services offered (eg translation, localisation, interpreting...)
- Languages offered (eg English and Spanish, Russian into French...)
- Specialisation (only if its very specific)
- Whether the listing is for a company, agency, cooperative or freelancer
- The physical location of the company or freelancer (including country name, written in full)
- Whether the site offers any other added-value of sizeable proportion.
The following information is typically not included in the description:
- Accreditation, qualifications and memberships
- Mention of CAT tools or other equipment
- Types of documents translated (unless highly specific)
- Types of clients (unless highly specific or related to domicile)
- Contact details of any kind
DESCRIPTION UPDATE REQUESTS
If your site is listed in the ODP, but you are unhappy with the title or description, you can submit an update request. If your update request does indeed improve the information of the listing, you can expect your listing to be amended accordingly.
However, an editor is entirely entitled to re-review your site from scratch and update your listing with whatever information he feels is accurate. So if you were lucky enough to get some nice keywords into your listing, don't push your luck too far, or you may lose what you had. If an editor decides to deny your update request, your current listing will remain and will not be removed unless the editor feels that your site no longer qualifies for listing.
OTHER ISSUES: REQUIRED PLUGINS AND SPECIFIC BROWSERS
Some sites designed in Microsoft Frontpage, or whose webmaster tested only on Microsoft Windows, use non-standard link syntax which only Internet Explorer interprets correctly. When using other browsers, these sites may appear to have dozens of broken links or missing images, and we already know what happens to submissions of "incomplete" or "malfunctioning" sites... so don't neglect to test your site thoroughly.
OTHER ISSUES: CLOAKING, FORWARDING, TEMPLATES AND PROFILE PAGES
A cloaked site is one which uses a very large frame to hide the real location of the web site. To prevent attempts to get multiple listings for a single site, cloaked sites are not listed according to their cloaked URL but according to their real URL. The same goes for forwarded domains. The ODP listing will reflect the end-URL and not the initial URL of the site.
The ODP no longer accepts template based profile pages for listing. Your site must be hosted on a web space which allows you total control over the layout of your site (either a paid host or a free host). Profile pages of non-Platinum members of Proz.com are therefore not acceptable for listing (the same rule applies to profile pages of other translator portals).
OTHER ISSUES: MULTIPLE LISTINGS, MULTILINGUAL SITES AND DEEPLINKS
Multilingual web sites can be listed in both the English section and in each of its languages in the non-English section of the ODP. Not all editors allow multiple listing of multilingual, however. Some editors will allow only one listing of a multilingual site for the entire ODP.
Here are two tips to improve your chances of getting your multilingual site listed in the non-English section of the ODP:
- Separate the languages clearly. Do not mix the languages on a single page, but have distinctly separate sub web sites in each language.
- Translate a sizeable portion of your web site. Do not simply translate a single page into more than one language, and expect your site to be listed in multiple non-English categories.
One thing you must never do, is to submit several of your web site's sub pages to the ODP in the hope of obtaining multiple listings. Keen editors will detect this, and your web site may get blacklisted for "spamming". Only submit the root page or the main page of a distinct sub section. ODP editors call sub pages "deeplinks", and in most cases deeplinks can't be listed.
An exception on the "no deeplinks" rule is when your web site contains a page or sub section which is distinctly different from the main web site and sufficiently useful and unique to warrant a listing of its own. In such a case, the deep link is considered a separate site, thereby not violating the "one site gets one listing" rule.
COMMON MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT THE ODP
The ODP is not a search engine. It does not crawl your site. However, the ODP's listing data is used by several search engines that do crawl your site. Using the ODP's data is free but conditional. Some smaller search engines do not regularly update the data which they got from the ODP, which means that users of such search sites might get to see old and outdated listings. If your listing in the ODP contains an error, it is therefore imperative that you submit an update request as soon as possible.
If your web site disappears, the ODP's system will detect this and warn the editor about it. It is the editor's duty to assume that your web site still exists but that it has a new name. The editor then searches the web for a new URL. If he can't find a new URL for your site, he will delete the listing. If you decide to change your web site's URL, therefore, be sure to put a redirect message on the old site and don't neglect to submit an update request to the ODP category where your site is listed.
Knowing about the huge backlog of unreviewed submissions, some webmasters take a chance to submit a site even though they're still busy designing it. If an editor reviews that submission to soon, the editor will write "insufficient content" to the listing history, and this negative comment will follow your site's listing for ever and influence the attitude of future editors towards your site for the worse. Do not submit your site if your site is not complete.
It is not against the rules of the ODP to contact an editor privately to urge him to review your submission, although some editors can get annoyed by this and choose to ignore your e-mail. An editor is not allowed to reject your submission simply because you had contacted him privately.
Anyone may apply to become an editor at the ODP. It is permissible to become an editor of a category simply because you want to list your own web site in that category. However, there are strict rules about sites to which editors are affiliated, and if you do join the ODP simply to add your own site, be sure to treat your own listing as conservatively as possible, lest you create the impression that you are abusing the ODP system. There are many sub categories in the translation section just waiting for an eager new editor to help clean them up.
TEN TIPS FOR SPEEDY LISTING
- Submit in the correct category.
- Submit your web site's main page only.
- Use your business name at the Title (or your own name, if you're a freelancer).
- In the Description: Mention your languages.
- In the Description: Mention your subject fields, if highly specific.
- In the Description: Mention if you're a business, agency or freelancer.
- In the Description: Mention your physical location, including country.
- In the Description: Mention any content available on your web site which makes your site special, if any.
- Make sure your web site is complete or looks complete.
- Make sure your web site works in any browser.