A couple of months ago I found a really clever and easy way to build thousands of links to any site (with your choice of anchor text). In the spirit of sharing I try to promote in this blog, here it is…
PAD your link-building regimen
There are thousands of software developers that provide their solution as a software download (RankSense is one of those), but getting visibility for your solution is an uphill battle due to the large number of competing products in any software niche. One of the easiest ways to get a lot of visibility is to offer a free version of your product and syndicate it through free software download directories.
Now, there are thousands of such directories and submitting your software to each one manually is definitely a pain. Fortunately, there is already a solution for that. All of the software distribution sites support a standard syndication format for content similar to RSS. It’s called PAD (Portable Application Description). Essentially, it is an XML format with all the details about your software, your company, and so on. And most important of all for us marketers, it includes a space to provide our company/product URL and description. In most cases, both result in a link with the anchor text you specify.
You are probably going to say that you don’t have a software download to distribute. Here are two very simple options for you:
1. Hire a programmer on Elance or Guru and have him develop a very simple tool (like a calendar or to-do list) or enhance an existing open source one. If you search diligently, you can get lots of proposals for anywhere between $50 to $200 bucks. Most of the software directories—at least the ones that are most useful for link juice—review each submission, so if you want to increase your chances try to create something simple but original.
2. Turn your blog’s content into an e-book in executable format using one of the popular e-book creators. This strategy is even easier and I guess most of you will go this route, but I need to warn you that you will have less success with the directories that carefully review submissions.
After you have your “free new software” you need to create the syndication file—the PAD file. There is a free tool that you can use for this called PadGen. Simply fill out the forms, which are self explanatory, and let the software generate the PAD file for you. Pay special attention to the fields for your link and company name. Those are the ones that control the link back to your site and the anchor text. Upload the file to your server, and submit the URL to the directories.
As a regular reader of this blog, you probably understand the importance of mixing your anchor text. Getting thousands of links back with the same anchor text is not a good idea. So here is a clever strategy you can use to control the anchor text:
Write a simple PHP script and map it to your PAD file URL using Apache’s ScriptAlias, or map the .xml extension (if you don’t have other files with the same extension) or do something similar. The idea is that the script must intercept the request and randomly or serially alter the anchor text in the XML with the values of a predetermined list of anchor text that you want to target. Performing basic keyword research will give you a suitable list. The goal is to have every submission use a different (but relevant) description for your company/product. To be on the safe side, I suggest you always leave the product name with the keyword-rich description. I also recommend that in some of the variations you use only the product name and not a keyword-rich description. This will make everything look much more natural.
This sounds like a lot of work, but really it isn’t. Syndicating software is not very different from syndicating content.
All that’s left is to find a big list of software directories to start submitting your PAD file to. A search in Google for “software downloads” returns more than 70 million results and all I see are software download sites, so the sky is the limit! I recommend you don’t include your personal e-mail in the PAD but create one that you can actively monitor because many of the sites will e-mail you additional steps. I’m sure spammers set up fake download sites to harvest e-mails so be careful with that, too.
There are software tools that can automate the submissions too; do a quick search in Google and you will find some really useful ones.
Happy link hunting!
Update: I’m glad to learn that SEO expert, Nick Wilsdon, has been using this technique for years! Check out his really useful post for more useful tips 🙂