A PAD file is a file that describes your application and your business. You can host it on your website and submit it (example ) to download sites and software directories that can then index and categorise your software.
I wondered how important other software startups thought this was. Are there SEO benefits from submitting the PAD?
Windows download sites are pretty worthless these days, unless perhaps you sell a mainstream utility, e.g. anti-virus. Certainly I get very few sales for my product through them. However it is additional exposure and backlinks for very little work, especially if you use the ASP PAD database. Also, as most download sites SEO their pages for terms such as " crack warez torrent> they can help to hide any real cracks!
I did create a PAD file and used a submission service to get the software on most download sites. I have the software listed in hundreds of download sites, and can see a good level of installations happening monthly.
Here's my opinion on the return you might get:
SEO - I agree with what's been said so far. Even if all those download sites have a link to your website, the SEO juice you get from each is going to be quite small. Anyway it's still good to have many websites linking to you (especially if they use the right keywords in the anchor text)
Awareness - Having your product listed in these sites makes it more visible to a larger group. Probably 90% of them will not be buying it, but if your doing a Grass Roots strategy, then it makes sense to try and get your SW in the hands of as many users as you can. Some may write about it (even if it's just a tweet) or tell their friends about it (and hopefully their boss!)
ROI - Most download websites let you get your software there for free! You can submit your PAD file on each site manually, or hire submission services (I use one which is cheap and quite effective). So, for a very low investment (of time and money) you can get your SW all over the web, get downloads and hopefully some deals... the ROI math is kind of easy!
Hope this helps
I think it's of marginal benefit these days as Google will most likely discount the link benefit of so many cookie cutter download sites. That being said, deploying an XML file takes minimal effort and even if the SEO boost is marginal you should probably do it. Oh and there might actually be some small chance a real visitor will download and purchase your software through one of the download sites.
I've personally used PAD files with my credit card processor, regnow.com. The reason I've used pad files and Regnow for that matter is because they offer an affiliate distribution network. Meaning that with the use of PAD files other web sites could easily sell my software and would receive a % (commission) that I would have authorized before hand.
I wouldn't say its been extremely successful but worth looking into because it gets your product out to more sites and stores.