DMOZ closed - here's how it might affect you
Back Posted on 15 Mar 2017
DMOZ closed - here's how it might affect your website
Google sometimes use information from DMOZ to create snippets for search results.
This is significant because they only do so when the details your page provides are not good enough and they are unable to create a better snippet on their own.
With DMOZ closing this means affected sites should investigate why Google turned to DMOZ and find out how to fix it.
A notice appeared on the DMOZ home page in February 2017 saying the website would no longer be available as of 14 March 2017.
DMOZ, formerly known as the Open Directory Project (ODP), was built over many years by an army of volunteer editors resulting in the largest human edited directory on the web. It was important as the information could largely be trusted because it was independently verified.
The end is significant because Google often used information from DMOZ to create snippets for search results. This was done under a number of circumstances including when Google couldn't find enough useful information on a web page to create a meaningful snippet on it's own.
I experienced this earlier this year when a client asked why their updated home page Title and Description were not shown in search results. It turned out the search results snippet was an exact match for the details added years to DMOZ years ago. It was out of date and no longer relevant to the business.
It's safe to presume that Google won't immediately dump existing snippets based on information from DMOZ but it does raise some important points.
- If Google couldn't extract or create a useful snippet for a page on your website something is wrong with your site meta data, architecture or content
- If Google has been showing users out of date information from DMOZ there is a chance users arrive at your site expecting something different or worse decide not to click through at all
The best way to address this is make sure your meta tags are set correctly for every page on your website.
Although not strictly a meta tag the Title is by far the most important and should describe the content of your page in a compelling way to encourage users to click through - like a newspaper article headline. The Title tag is also the default setting when bookmarking a page in your browser and helps users find you and your page again.
Maximum length 50-60 characters.
Setting a unique Description for every page gives you the best chance of getting the exact text you want in front of users. It should be concise and read naturally, don't be tempted to cram a few extra keywords in there.
Maximum length should be 150-160 characters.
The Keywords tag hasn't been used for years and serves only to give competitors an insight into the words and phrases you are trying to rank for.
Don't use it.
Search engines can override you
Search engines don't have to accept the Title or Description you specify and will often change them based on searcher intent - that is what they think a user is searching for. They may even show a different title or description for the same page depending on the search phrase used.
The best way to ensure search engines can create a relevant snippet is to structure your pages well and include relevant content for users in a format that search engines understand.