The Open Directory Project included a blog post a couple of days ago discussing editor abuse and what they do about it. It’s a good read even if you haven’t been a big fan of the ODP. But I wanted to address the search engine optimization effects of editor abuse at DMOZ.
Of course, the blog post went to great pains to define abuse. Not every instance of inappropriate editing is considered abuse. Like most forms of human behavior, there are a lot of gray areas. Abuse need not be but often does manifest as intentional behavior. Therefore, if an editor makes an honest mistake, that’s not abuse. On the other hand, if an editor makes the same mistake over and over again after repeated warnings then that won’t fare well for that editor.
Aside from natural editing mistakes, however, abuse can occur in several forms, which include:
These are just a few of the behavior patterns that are defined as abusive by the DMOZ editing staff. Note that all of these have some kind of SEO influence.
For instance, deleting a competitor’s website would lead to a loss of a valuable inbound link for that competitor, which might be a positive for the editor. If the competitor in question outranks the editor for a key term and the loss of the DMOZ link is a significant factor in that ranking, the editor surely would benefit greatly from that. In that regard, this is an egregious abuse.
On the flip side, while editors deserve to have their own sites listed in DMOZ as much as anyone else, an editor using his influence to tilt the deck in his own favor hurts everyone else. It’s just bad form.
Bribes, too, have a serious SEO effect. While this is an integrity issue, an editor accepting a bribe from someone to get a site listed in DMOZ is influencing SEO. Since all sites listed in DMOZ are looked upon favorably by Google and receive valuable link credit due to the ODPs high authority rating with the search engine, a bribe is essentially the same as buying a link. Not only should that editor be dismissed from his responsibilities, but any websites included in the ODP as a result of a bribe should be de-listed.
Many people still view the ODP as irrelevant, but as long as Google counts inbound links from DMOZ as valuable links, editor behavior – good and bad – will affect SEO.