Friday, August 20, 2004

The download sites

The most used way to popularize shareware applications is using download sites. These are web sites oriented only towards providing applications downloads. Surprisingly for a lot of the shareware authors this is far from the optimal way to promote software.


Why download sites are not that good?

There is a pretty good reason, which many prefer to ignore. People are using search engines much more than going to download sites. Search engines are really the best way to get visitors to your site.

Major download sites still can help you with popularizing your application. But if they are your main advertising method you are in trouble. Nevertheless I did some research on download sites. And I am sharing some tips with you here.


Submit to 300+ download sites NOW! Or do something smart.

If you are a newbie you can do a quick math. 10 downloads sites will bring you some traffic. 200 download sites should bring you 20x traffic. Forget the get-rich-quick type of advices and way of calculating profits. They are absolutely wrong.

If you have heard the 80/20 principle you would know why. It is sometimes called the 90/10 principle. In our case this will mean: 90% of your downloads will come from 10% of the download sites. And this is definitely true. So do yourself a favor and concentrate only on a small part of the web sites.

You may think that 10% downloads are still not that bad. But download sites should not be your primary way to get traffic in the first place. 10% already don’t look that good. Especially if you consider that it will take you 90% of the time for submitting. And no, don’t buy one of these apps that help you to submit automatically to hundreds of sites. I think you know why not already.


Which download sites worth the effort?

Let’s start with The Site. Yeah, there is no other site like Download.com. It is so good that they were the only download site to be able to persuade almost everyone to pay for their services. And the smallest fee for inclusion of your software is $79. The reason is that it is worth it.

But why pay for something you can get free other place? Remember the 80/20 rule? It is sometimes interpreted as a 70/5 rule. For us it means that you get 70% of your traffic from 5% of the web sites. Please note that I am not giving real numbers here. I haven’t done research on this but these figures are probably quite close to the reality. And for Download.com this means that half of your downloads can come from this single site.

One other sites is Tucows. They are one of the oldest and still popular download sites. Because of this they are trying to charge you for everything they can. Although the inclusion of your software is free there are some problems. They will make you wait for long. They will nag you often to pay for their services. And if your application is not popular enough they will threaten you to exclude it from their site. I really don’t like this attitude. So I suggest this: Get for free what you can from Tucows, but don’t pay for anything more!

Simtel.net is the other popular web site. I recommend using them
because their site has a lot of visitors and they have behaved quite honestly in contrast to Tucows. They are not forcing you to pay for anything.


Rating web sites according to their Google PR

I hope you know what Google PR is. PR means Page Rank and is the Google’s way to tell you how good a specific web page is. A PR is assigned to every web page. A PR of 5 is good. If your web site has 6 or 7 PR congratulations! Only web sites like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft get 10 PR.

I did a research on 150 web sites about their page rank. This is a good way to measure which of them are popular and which are not. But I would suggest that you don’t rely solely on this measure.

Download.com and Tucows.com have PR 9. That is much better than I thought. This is a great proof for their popularity. No other site ranked that high.

No download sites were ranked with 8 PR. And few were ranked 7.

A list of web sites with 7 PR:

filehungry.com
paulspicks.com
shareme.com
pcworld.com/downloads
32bit.com

Surprisingly for me Simtel.net had 6 PR. Some other download sites with lower Page Rank but which I had good experience with:

sofotex.com
snapfiles.com
superdownloads.ubbi.com.br
jumbo.com
versiontracker.com
freedownloadscenter.com
sharewarejunction.com
download32.com

softwareseeker.com


Conclusion

What I am suggesting you is that you use only these download sites. And abandon the less popular ones. This way you are getting 80% to 90% of the traffic and you are not wasting your time which will be better spent on other marketing incentives.

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