I don't take as critical a stance as many here towards download sites. They serve me well, so I have no problems with them. I make more money because of them. Not complaining. PAD -- love it. Great stuff. But, I know what they are and what their purpose is. I've no illusions about what they are or do.
I am sure the applications you have PAD files for that are making you money as the result of being made available through the download sites is shareware and not freeware.
My software site is such low traffic, I can't even give away advertising slots for free, yet the download sites are getting a lot more traffic for my software than I do, when you count the total number of downloads they are getting from hotlinking my files. I am sure their ad slots don't have a "advertise here for $0" like mine do.
I've been meaning/threatening to write a book on this for a LLLLOOOOOONNNNNGGGG time now... But never finished it. Started... But that's all.
A LOT of software authors are pessimistic about PAD and download sites, but I really believe that's simply because they don't know how to use PAD and the download sites effectively.
Here's an example... A few years ago I did 1 (one) round of my cocaine-methamphetamine-speedy-hyper-ultra PAD promotion for ALShow (now ALPlayer). Within a month or so I had it in the top 10 Google results for some of the most competitive search terms out there. I forget exactly what they were, but something like "free video player" or "free movie player" or something like that.
Competition for the terms in the top 10 included Microsoft (Windows Media Player), Apple (Quicktime or iTunes), RealPlayer, VLC and a few others.
That was 1 round.
However, I put more effort in than the tiny amount most software authors do.
Most SEO "gurus" will blather on about how what I do doesn't work. They'll go on about this technique and that technique are all BS and will even harm you. I have zero respect for them.
My suspicion is that they know damn well that what I do works, and that it's almost a silver bullet when it comes to SEO, and they just don't want other people to know and they don't want anyone else doing it because it *IS* so effective.
I know at least 1 person who is at the top of the game and does things very similar to me. She won't admit anything to anyone about what she does though. She keeps it all very secret, as in total silence. If you want it, you've got to pay for it, and she's not cheap. She's one of those people that keeps a small number of clients and fires them when she feels like. (We've been friends for a few years.)
I know another fellow in the game, and I've got a feeling that he knows a lot more than what he says publicly. I've heard him publicly say that the stuff I do is total garbage and a total waste of time. (I've known him for a few years and I don't like him at all.)
I screamed at the top of my lungs for years about how to do it in some forums and news groups, and I suppose I just gave up.
I've done almost no SEO work at all at http://renegademinds.com/
because that's what I used to do all the time, and Renegade Minds was more for me to do other things, like programming, and not SEO. Really - like almost zero. I've not done anything at all in probably 2 or 3 years.
However, I still rank very well for a lot of things there, including keywords that are important to me. I mean as compared to some that aren't important to me:http://www.google.co...p;q=realvnc+tutorial
I rank #2 there, and really couldn't care less.
I rank #2 there. There are a lot more.
The key is to use the download sites more than they use you.
Some important ones for me are like:http://www.google.co...p;q=pitch+shift+song
Where I rank #1.
And I've used the download sites to help me get there.
I'm going to scream this once more... Just once...