While free ‘junk’ advertising has always been around, most internet marketers and webmasters have evolved and matured to focus on methods which are ethical, proven and effective both in the present and long-term. As new ideas and strategies come to the surface, others slowly die off and the cycle of life online starts all over again.
There are some methods that have remained constant though, and while people rush to jump on the latest craze, it's easy to overlook some of the simplest ways of generating traffic that have proven themselves for years.
Such is the case with submitting to software directories. Most people wouldn't see this as an obvious source of targeted traffic. After all, they're for notepad clones and anti-virus programs right? Wrong. Many will accept other kinds of files and you don't even have to know how to write a line code.
What does this mean to you?
- Interest in your website and products
- Reliable links to your website
- Reaching a greater audience
- More exposure for affiliate programs and Adsense
- Almost immediate, long-term traffic which brings wide distribution
- Often very high page ranks for pages you submit
- People will create more links for you as they recommend your site in forums, on blogs, etc.
- More pages on your website for the products you submit means more pages being indexed by search engines
- Existing visitors will come back more often and your chances of getting bookmarked by new users are increased
- Depending on the type of content you submitted, you may have CD publishers wanting to include your products on their CDs
- Submitting to most software directories is free!
This is the same strategy I used to get listed in literally 1000's of software and freeware directories over a period of just 1 year with another site I own. There are actually over 12,000 links referencing the site, but to sort out the actual number of software directories would be impossible. I can estimate though that about 70% of them are software sites. The more freebies I created, the more listings and unique pages pointing to my website. Originally I had only submitted to about 50 directories, but a few things happened to cause the massive growth - these freebies caught a lot of attention, being talked about in forums, newsletters, blogs, and appearing in other directories which picked up the links and indexed them. Other sites too wanted to give copies away from their own website. If that wasn't enough, magazine publishers included my work on their cover-mounted cds and a university used my content as part of one of their courses. As you can imagine - traffic galore!
You might be wondering about regular free stuff sites. I have found that getting listed in general free stuff directories is difficult, takes too long, most demand a reciprocal link and they don't seem interested 90% of the time. Why? Because most of the ‘freebies’ listed on their site are connected to affiliate programs - and that's all they care about. Yes, software directories usually promote affiliate programs too, but generally they want as much software as possible in their directory, and the layout is different too, so that visitors can find freeware much easier.
Here are some ideas for different types of products you can easily create so you can get your foot in the door to this huge traffic source:
An easy way to not only get listed in multiple software directories, but to get your products & links right on people's desktops. Sure, the world is full of screensavers - so you either have to make a really cool screensaver, or focus on a niche.
You can find some free screensaver software at: http://www.zeallsoft.com/
This is the easiest option for most and doesn't have to be very complex. A simple eBook of resources is good, such as one I published years ago called “The Webmaster Freeware Guide". With ebooks, you want to make sure you include plenty of links within them back to your website.
A good free ebook creation program can be found here: http://www.spadixbd.com/wsz/
3. Fonts, Icons, Photos, Graphics & Templates
Success with these kinds of digital freebies depend on your knowledge and skills. The idea is to create a collection of 50, 100 or even 500 files and then zip them up into a bundle. I won't go into details about creating these products because there would far too much information to cover and there are so many different kinds of products to be covered.
One very popular free graphics editor is TheGimp: http://www.gimp.org/
If you're looking for an incredible free webpage editor, I recommend Nvu: http://www.nvu.com/
4. ‘Faux’ Software
My favorite script haunt is Hotscripts: http://www.hotscripts.com/
5. Sticky Content
Sticky content is content which you outsource to other websites such as news feeds, a script, images, and other content. Compared to a simple link or banner, It is a great way to get visibility on other people's websites because they usually put the content in higher traffic areas, claims more page space, and is considered a feature rather than an ad for something. Creating a bundle of 10 sticky content units and bundle them into a collection.
To get started with sticky content, here's a great freeware tool: http://ygetup.com/scw/
An additional benefit to creating all these digital freebies and submitting them to software directories is the ability to have traffic go in two distinct directions on your website. Most listings allow you to a link to your homepage as well as the download page. My download page listed all the items I was giving away with quick download links, but also included affiliate links and Adsense ads.
How To Get Started:
The first step is to sit down with good old fashioned pen & paper and do some brainstorming. You want to think about the content and theme of your website and then consider products which compliment it.
Example A: If you run a health theme site, you could create some relaxing screensavers “that have been shown to help people ease their stress throughout the day". . . ok, so maybe that's a little bit of marketing bull - but a little hype never hurts!
Example B: If you run a template site, you can bundle up a collection of free templates that each contain a link back to your website. As a rule, people using the templates must include the link back.
Example C: If you are an affiliate marketer for software such as anti-virus programs, you could create an ebook like “50 anti-virus tips" or “How to protect your computer from viruses". Obviously, you'll want to include affiliate links.
The possibilities are endless and you'll be surprised at the exposure you get compared to other kinds of directories. The more digital freebies you create, the more exposure, listings, search engine traffic boosts and page views you'll get.
Tips For Getting More From This System:
- Encourage visitors to give away copies from their own website
- Include a ‘readme’ file in html which introduces your website, affiliate links, etc.
- Create a master download page and perhaps individual download pages for each product which include affiliate and Adsense ads.
- Don't submit your products to these directories as if they were ads - because they're not! Use keyword-rich titles and informative descriptions because often these directories make the filename for the page the same as the title you enter. This gives you a huge advantage in the search engines.
- If you want to update the content of the ebook on a regular basis, you can create a link within the ebook which will auto-redirect to page on your server. The page will be displayed within the ebook - so nobody is the wiser. The only problem here is if the ebook creation software you're using doesn't support it. You'll only know this through trial and error.
Now the question is . . . where are these software directories? Oh, please don't ask me that because I certainly couldn't list them all. Your best approach is to Google it. Use keyphrases like “free software", “free software directory", “free software search", “freeware", “freeware search", “freeware directory", etc. You get the idea, right?
Before you do submit your products, check around first to see if there is a matching category and read their policies (if any) on submitting programs and files. There has been an ever-increasing demand from software publishers to submit . xml data on their products, so look for that too.
Carole Nickerson has been a web developer and internet marketer since 1998. Visit http://www.thenetter.com for more free articles, tips and software.