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That right there is the type of publicity a startup can’t buy — a huge graphic currently promoting Seattle’s Zapd as the “App of the Week,” smack in the middle of the Apple App Store. As you might expect, the featured spot has resulted in a big boost for the free website publishing app, taking it farther down the path toward its goal of 1 million downloads. The designation also lifted the app’s ranking around the world, generated more positive user feedback, and possibly even helped the company’s financing efforts by creating new interest in what it’s doing.

After seeing this, we were curious: How does a company score this type of coup? No doubt many others would like to know, as well.

So here’s the answer: Start praying.

“We did not seek this out and we have not talked to anyone at Apple,” says Kelly Smith, the Seattle entrepreneur behind Zapd, in response to our inquiry. “Well. We tried. But we never got any indication that anyone at Apple got our emails. I think they make their own decisions in this regard and are not easily swayed by app developers looking for favors.”

That said, Smith has a few hunches about why the app landed the designation.

For one thing, by allowing people to create sites purely using their phones, the app shows the capability of the Apple device, and the potential of the “mobile-centric web,” which is clearly in the iPhone maker’s interest. The app is also available only for the iPhone, at least for now, and that exclusivity is something Apple likes to promote.

Zapd also plays into Apple’s “tri-device” view of the world, creating sites that automatically adjust for use on mobile devices, the iPad and computers. “The look and feel of each theme on each device was clearly custom made for that device,” Smith explains. “Apple likes that.”

He also theorizes that the speed and simplicity of the app boosted its estimation in Apple’s eyes.

Of course, playing into Apple’s broader strategy may not be the best business plan for a company to start with. But if you’re looking for an “App of the Week” honor in the process, it might just be a good recipe to follow along the way.

At this point, Smith says Zapd believes it will get to 1 million users well before it previously thought. That could lead the company to accelerate the money-making strategy for the business, which includes premium themes, premium urls and possibly even a paid version of the app.

[Editor’s note: Kelly Smith is the founder of Inkd, which is one of GeekWire’s partners].

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