What the heck is NOODP, you ask? In this article I’m going to show you a little known meta tag, recently introduced by major search engines, that allows you to control exactly what they display in the search results for your website. This can make all the difference between customers clicking on to your website or your competitors.

But first, a bit of backgound information that lead to the need of having the NOODP tag in the first place.

ODP, the Open Directory Project, also known as DMOZ. One of the largest human built directories. Some webmasters praise it, others say it’s crap, and even some more don’t really care about it. Should YOU care?

ODP is perhaps one of the most controversial sites when it comes to your SEO linking strategy. Packed with high PR categories, it’s strength was even more emphasized when Google decided to use it as a base for their directory.

Not to mention that countless other websites copy parts of it for their own directories.

So, what does all this mean? It means than IF you manage to get one of your websites into ODP you’re almost guaranteed a large number of links all pointing back to your site automatically.

But Google also uses ODP for another purpose other than for filling his own directory. It pulls the title and the description used by ODP to describe your site and sometimes uses it when displaying search results.

Even if you do have filled the meta description tags for your website, there are cases when Google’s algorithm decides the ODP data is more relevant and will display it.

Now this is all fine and dandy if somehow you managed to have a great description there.

Unfortunately most often than not ODP editors edit what you’ve submitted in the first place so you end up with an anost description that doesn’t fit the bill. Or perhaps you’ve slightly changed your website focus, say instead of dog training you now do dog breeding.

Anyone who tried changing the ODP description can tell for sure it’s a bit of a pain. Not only you’re usually stuck for months until your category editor bumps into your request, but also you run the risk of having your website completely dumped from DMOZ if the editor happens to dislike what he sees.

Luckily search engines now offer an alternate route where you’re back in control. Simply insert one little meta tag in your page header and 2 out of the major 3 search engines guarantee they’ll list your meta description instead of ODP’s.

This tag was first introduced by MSN Search and little ago Google decided to support it too.

Welcome to the NOODP tag.

The way this tag works is it tells the search engines to dump whatever description your site has in ODP and use whatever your meta description tag says. Now this may sound complicated at first, so here’s an example to let you know what I mean.

Let’s say you have a website about dog training that you somehow managed to get into ODP. Let’s say the ODP description says something like

Site that attempts to teach you 3 ways to train your dog but fails miserably.

Perhaps the category editor also owns a dog training website, or perhaps he didn’t like yours. The reasons don’t actually matter but the fact is you’re stuck with a boring description that, let’s face it, kinda’ sucks. What do you do now?

Well, thanks to the NOODP tag, all you have to do is enter 2 lines of text on your pages. First one is the meta description tag, where you write your super cool description. For our above example we could use something like

The best dog training on Earth. How to teach your dog to obey your commands in 5 days or less.

This sounds better, doesn’t it?

Now all is left is tell Google (and MSN) to use your meta description instead of ODPs. To do so, simply add a second meta tag, that is the NOODP tag. Just copy the following line, paste it in your web page in the head section and you should be all set.

Just wait until Google refreshes it’s index, typically between a couple days and a couple weeks, and you should begin to see your description being served in the search results.

Have fun playing with the NOODP tag, you’re now in control. And don’t forget to report back how it went for you.