You’ve just finished programming your masterpiece, your shareware program is finished and now you want to get the word out and start seeing the fruits of your labor. If you are a shareware program author, the next step in that chain in many cases is generating a PAD file (Portable Application Description) for your program so that you can start submitting it to some of the literally 1000’s of shareware directories out there.
The results of this step is where I often come into play and it never ceases to amaze me just how little time and effort some people put into their PAD files. Running a download site requires that I review scores of submissions to my site every week, almost all submitted using PAD files that are generated by program authors. Many programmers worth anything often spend many months or more on making a useful full featured program and then for some unknown reason only spend a few minutes on their PAD files.
Why is a PAD file so important? For one thing the information contained in that file is what is used by download sites to list your program. Most sites in fact use only the information in that file to generate your listing on their sites. So if you don’t spend time on your PAD file that lack of effort will show up on your various listings on the sites you choose to submit to by hurting the already limited exposure you are likely to see.
If your program is in a competitive niche, more than likely it will be listed along side most of your competitors on the various download sites. When a potential user is comparing your program to the others, what do you think will be one of the more important factors as to which one he will choose to download? Unless your product is already well know with a great reputation, all that user has to go by is what is contained in your program description. So if your program description is basically a one sentence blurb about how great your program is and your competitor has a multi-paragraph description detailing everything his program does and what sets it apart from the competition, which one do your think they will choose?
Another important aspect of the effort you put into your PAD file is getting your program noticed on download sites. Unless you are paying for better placement on a site or are getting it with partnership agreements with these sites, how is your program going to be found among the sea of thousands of others? Usually your best shot of being found revolves around search engines, either on-site or off.
Most sites have built in search engines to allow their visitors to find what they are looking for, if they don’t you should probably move on, but what most of these on-site search engines use to return search results are what you put in your PAD description and keyword fields. Writing poor descriptions and not choosing the proper keywords will result in your listing being buried among all the other listings.
Lastly, a large portion of download site visitors come by way of external search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN. If you are at all familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the more meaty, keyword rich a description is, the better it will rank in the search engines and in turn the more hits a program listing page will get. Of course a lot of that also has to do with how the download site program listing page is optimized, but submitting an optimized PAD file will often result in your program showing very well on the various search engines with the only problem being which download site optimizes better and hence gets the visitor. Either way you win as the only problem is not whether your program ranks well, it is which download site will be the one to generate the download!
You’ve spent countless hours on your program, so why aren’t you putting the same kind of effort when generating your PAD file? If your marketing plan includes submitting to download sites, you can’t afford not to.