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How Not to Promote Your Blog: Top 10 Broken Blog Promotion Strategies

Posted By Darren Rowse 13th of May 2009 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

Image by nickwheeleroz

This is a guest post by Kevin Geary from This is Broken Blog, a blog exposing important things in our daily lives that are broken and need to be fixed. It’s entertainment and education. Come visit us to see more of what’s broken (and even submit your own ideas).

For every great blog promotion strategy, there are five that suck. Really suck. They suck so bad that using them can get you blacklisted by real bloggers, ignored by annoyed readers, unfollowed on Twitter, and possibly placed on the terrorist watch list.

Being successful is not just about doing the right things. Avoiding the wrong things is just as important. Nobody wants to take two steps forward and three steps back; especially in blogging where success is few and far between, often takes a long time to become successful, and has a gigantic Dip.

If you’re to have any chance at success, you need to protect your blog from yourself. Protect it from your lust for quick success, your desire to become a ProBlogger in six months, and your general blogging ignorance (if you’re new).

10 Blog Promotion Strategies to Avoid at all Costs

1. Leaving “great post” comments on other blogs.

One of the best ways to get readers to your blog early on is to leave comments on other blogs. Of course, there’s a right and wrong way to go about this. Here is an example of a good and bad comment, using ProBlogger’s comment section as an example.

Patrick O’Keefe recently wrote a guest post on ProBlogger titled “Enhance and Grow Your Online Community Through Appreciation“. Here are two comments from that post:

Shane wrote:

Very good post, thank you for writing it.

Baker Wrote:

I saw this first hand, but really I stumbled into it unintentionally. I put up a bumbling video of myself thanking everyone for allowing me to have over 6400+ visits in my first full month blogging. The video wasn’t great quality or presentation, but people realized it was very genuine and I received several comments and e-mails. Again, I wasn’t out to really benefit like this, but I realized a side benefit from my regular reader’s really connecting with the video. Thanks again for 31DBBB, it helped me so much in having a great start!

Shane, you’re comment is broken. Obviously, you got one of the top 3 spots (which drives a lot of traffic on a successful blog like ProBlogger). But where’s the sincerity? Where’s the realness? It’s a fake comment meant to do one thing, drive traffic. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and it’s a big no no.

Baker did it right.

When you leave comments on other blogs, remember these three things: sincere, relevant, and valuable.

2. Emailing random blog authors and asking them to link to one of your posts.

I made this mistake early in my blogging career. Needless to say, I got a lot of hate mail in return.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. If your first impression is a spam-looking (no matter how good your intentions are) email to a random blog author trying to get them to link to your posts, you’re not going to make any friends.

Instead, find a way to add value to their blog and engage them with that in mind. They call it “link love” for a reason. Very few time-tested bloggers have sex on the first date. Build relationships slowly over time and you’re in like Flynn.

3. Asking random blog authors for a link exchange.

This goes along with number 2. Usually new bloggers will write to other bloggers and try to get them to place a link to their site in their blogroll in exchange for a link back. It’s a good way to build pagerank and get recognition, especially if you’re in the blogroll of a highly trafficked site.

But what’s a blogroll for? It’s to help readers find other quality sites on the same topic. Insincere link swapping devalues the goal of a blogroll.

Again, build that relationship. Add value. You get rewarded for being genuine, not for being hyperfocused on getting traffic.

4. Making Twitter all about you and your blog.

Twitter is a great way to drive traffic to your site. Darren recognized that early and started TwiTip, a site that gives you tips on using Twitter effectively. Unfortunately, as Twitter gets more mainstream it’s going to lose value. That’s just the nature of free networking and exposure.

Twitter is my third highest source of traffic and I don’t have all that many followers. What I do have is important followers. Relevant followers. And I only follow relevant people who I actually care to hear from. That’s what Twitter was designed for. That’s what makes Twitter effective.

The people who are breaking Twitter (yes, it’s being torn down in terms of value as we speak) are the ones who use it to promote only themselves and only their blog. They’ll throw a retweet out there every once in a while and join in on a #followfriday session, but that’s about it. Their main goal is to drive traffic without adding any value. And who can blame them? It’s free and easy.

Let me give you a tip. Free and easy asks for abuse. Abuse is a great short term strategy. So is eating donuts for energy. But what happens when you get a big sugar spike? Crash. If you abuse Twitter and Facebook and others you’re going to crash as soon as people catch on to your antics. Shamless self-promotion on Twitter and social networking sites is a horrible long term strategy.

5. Joining forums simply for promotion.

See point number 4.

Forums are a great way to drive traffic to your site if you do it right. Don’t be a broken forum user. Put a tasteful link to your site in your signature and then make it your mission to interact the way the forum was designed. Be on the forum for the benefit of others and to further your own education, not to promote your blog. If you add value (see the trend), you’ll get the traffic.

6. Submitting all your posts to social media sites.

Are you a social media spammer? Do you have 70 social media buttons below your posts? Do you submit every post to most of them? It’s cheesy. Again, things that are free and easy get abused. It’s your job not to abuse them. Write great content and you’ll get recognized in time. If you force it, you’ll get recognized as the spammer you are and you can kiss success bye bye.

Instead, join the three most relevant social media sites and work to build value. Promote 10 times as much of other people’s material as you do your own. And don’t forget: sincere, relevant, and valuable.

7. Writing for search engines.

I want you to achieve the top spot on Google. Really, I do. But as a reader, I’m hungry for good content that’s sincere, smooth, and easily ingestible. Your keyword soup gives me the runs, in like, I run far away very fast.

If you write for the search engines and not for your readers, you’re going to get the top spot in Google. You’re going to get a lot of traffic and your adsense revenue is going to be great. But you’ll never have a great blog. You’ll never have a dedicated tribe of readers. You’ll never be a respected resource.

Search engine spiders aren’t going to give you good word of mouth. Neither are the strangers that find you on google who visit you once, hate your content, and leave.

Good content can and should be keyword dense. The trick is to do it without making my head spin. Copyblogger will teach you how it’s done.

8. Loading your site up with badges to all the social media communities you joined overnight.

Have you ever been to a blog that has a sidebar full of social media and social networking profile links? They’re on just about everything. On top of that, they throw in a big mybloglog widget and an entrecard widget.

You can be a jack of all social media sites, but you’ll end up being a master of none. Besides that, it’s just a bunch of clutter to your readers. Google beat out Yahoo because Google was simple and Yahoo was hectic. Do you want your readers to focus on the content or to focus on everything BUT the content?

Zen Habits is the master of simple. You have no choice but to read his content because there’s nothing else to do. And look at his subscriber count. Take a hint. There’s no way you can add value to a hundred social media profiles. Be selective and go for clean.

9. Copying someone else’s style or idea.

The easiest way to look creative is to not be creative at all. There’s enough creative out there that you can just copy and paste and people will probably never be the wiser.

And I’m not talking about lifting content from other blogs. That should be an obvious no-no. What I’m talking about is finding a successful blog and copying their overall style and even parts of their design. If I look like them, I’ll have their success. No, you won’t. You can never be more original than the original. Think about how that affects readers…

If they like the original, they’ll stick with the original. If they don’t like the original, they’re not going to go for a copy cat. You lose both ways. When you copy what your competitors are doing, you ensure that you’ll never pick up any market share.

If you want to be the best, you have to stand out. Figure out what everyone in your niche is doing and do the opposite.

10. Using search engine auto-submitters.

Have you seen these things? Get your site indexed on 50000000000000 search engines instantly!

This isn’t particularly bad, it’s just a waste of time and money. It’s not necessary. The only search enginge you need to target is Google and getting your site indexed is free and easy.

Use Google’s Webmaster Tools, get a sitemap plugin, write great titles and great content, and get “link love” by building relationships and adding value to other people’s projects. That’s all you have to do to own Google search. Throw the gimmicks out the window and focus on sincere, relevant, and valuable.

I know there are more broken strategies out there. I had fun talking about the top 10. Now I want you to expose more of them in the comments section. Let’s see how many we can come up with. Go.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I don’t even know now how I got referred here, but I bookmarked it a while ago while getting down to the business of beginnng my Blog…

    …It’s my first attempt and, frankly, I would be naive if I thought I wasn’t going to make any mistakes!

    I am just grateful that I can use this as a guide for the sort of mistakes I almost fell into due to sheer “noob-ness”.

    Have more time now, looking forward to reading throught the rest of the site.

    I figure that if I can learn from this first attempt, then future projects will beging on a reasonable foundation.
    (yeah yeah.. in a perfect world LOL the NEXT project will be perfect, and I’ll sit around in my undies all day watching the adsense ticker roll on ROFL.. NOT!)

    Thanks.. really.

    Drew :-)

  2. Unknowingly I was commenting on others blogs . I was unaware of the fact that I am getting a a link from thOSE blog :D

  3. I’m guilty of probably all of these, expect for #2 and #3. However, I have corrected them over the last couple of weeks. After reading them though, boy do they sound bad. Yikes! I’m glad I rectified the error of my ways, before I killed all hopes of a good blog. I’m still learning though. Every day.

    My main focus right now is improving my grammar and punctuation. I know I know, what is a girl with horrible grammar and spelling doing as a blogger!?! However, I really do think it has improved both. Its one of the top 5 reason why I blog. English is not my first language so my grammar can get a bit screwed. Even after proof reading over and over again. Any suggestions?

    Anyways, thanks again for your help. I’m a twitter follower as well. Your blog is really helpful and I like your honest and to the point opinions. No too harsh, but with no extra sugar. Love it!

    Thanks again Darren.


  4. Nice post. thanks for writing it.

    Just kidding. Yeah, I would think it would be annoying for people to just ask for a link exchange and I have, on my blog, gotten people who write lame things like “nice blog. keep it up!” when they obviously haven’t read my post or care to read it. i find it annoying and a bit offensive.

  5. …. just on that point…

    What is the accepted etiquette for moderation?

    My blog is in it’s infancy, so is hardly inundated with comments – but to resolve the blog-backs mentioned above, can moderation resolve that? rather than auto-accept?

    If a commenter is obviously not invested in a blog, I don’t see the benefit of having their comment plug up the page.

    OR is this a little naive and inviting the blogging gremlins to come and smite me where I stand?


  6. …. just on that point…

    What is the accepted etiquette for moderation?

    My blog is in it’s infancy, so is hardly inundated with comments – but to resolve the blog-backs mentioned above, can moderation resolve that? rather than auto-accept?

    If a commenter is obviously not invested in a blog, I don’t see the benefit of having their comment plug up the page.

    OR is this a little too simplified and inviting the blogging gremlins to come and smite me where I stand?


  7. I would normally allow such comments to be posted in my website – the generic comment like “nice posting, great job” etc.

    It’s always better to have some comments rather than no comments at all as it improve the social conformity of your website (the more people comment, the more new traffic will want to look to your website.

    Of course, real spam comments is to be avoided as it will downgrade your website.

    When you reach a level like Problogger, you dont need to worry about this anymore :)


  8. Thanks for the tips. Actually I was leave my simple comments to others blog. But I think you are right, some people will look like a spam. So, is google read it as spams for simple comments?

  9. This is a great post. I’m not even going to lie, I have done quite a few things mentioned in this post before. I don’t think I ever had bad or cheap intentions, though.

    The one that breaks my heart the most is copying someone else’s style. I hate to say it but I really paid attention to the site of this site when I was designing my site. I felt that this site looked like what a quality content site should look like… so I went with it.

    Problogger and my site, SuccessOnMyMind.com, are not in the same niche by any means. How negative of an effect do you all think this will have on my site? I am very creative and none of my other sites are copies. I just really wanted the same feel for this particular blog,

    Go or no go?

  10. You say right that this kind of comment doeasn’t work at all: “Very good post, thank you for writing it. ”

    But if your post is really a great post, how can we say only thank you for this great info?

    By the way these 10 tips you wrote are interesting and useful…. so thanks for the great post.


  11. Hmm. I appreciate this post, since it’s enlightened me quite a bit. (Sorry, I sound a bit like Shane…) I’m definitely a newcomer to blogging at the moment, even though it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now.

    I generally agree with every point you made, but my most recent strategy for promotion (my blog has only really been up for about 2 months so I’m in the experimentation stage…) contradicts point #4 and point #6. I do tend to submit every link to Twitter, and I’ve just recently started experimenting with StumbleUpon and Digg. I know it’s sinful, and it feels that way when I’m doing it, but I must say that I’m honestly confused about exactly how you get the link out there without using these strategies early on. Considering that my blog (sorry, I’m talking about my blog a lot but this is a relevant question, I swear!) is 100% politics and economics, I’ve definitely had some trouble finding other bloggers to connect with, unless I want to hit up CNN. (Somehow I doubt that they’d have much interest in a no-namer like me.)

    So I guess my question would be, how should I start off? If I shouldn’t be submitting to social networking sites and Twitter, what should I be doing instead?

  12. That’s so funny, I am a total newbie when it comes to promoting my blog. Thanks for showing me where I went wrong. Take it easy

  13. Hey Darren, this is a really great top ten list. I hope you will respond to my comment, I am trying to find ways to let people know that they can post their own top ten list to my site http://www.toptentopten.com/. I am always sincere in my comments and read people’s lists and don’t want to come across spammy. I don’t think it is because we never asks for links back to our site and in fact we let people know that they can post their list on our site and reference their site for the original source, which gives them a one way link. So again, just really trying to make sure my message doesn’t fall into some of the pitfalls that you point out here.

  14. that was really helpful!
    your post left me feeling so stupid!
    i’d done about six of those broken things :-( to promote my blog……and still it wasn’t really giving me any traffic….i realize i’d better stop all this!

    thanks a ton
    off to better blogging…

  15. that was really helpful!

  16. I too have tried is helping to promote for other related blogs. In that sense , I get more content for my blog.

    Occasionally, they take my articles and publish them on their blog, getting me more exposure.

    Count me in if you are keen for such exchanges.

  17. Darren, great post as usual. What I think after reading this blog post is most of the blogging world knows these to ‘some’ extent. But they still make the same mistakes again n again just to cover up the mistakes they are doing by not posting good contents (or I should say not spending much time in research).

  18. Thanks for writing this, It’s all about common sense I guess and not abusing the amazing free networking tools that are out there. We’re just getting into twitter and already we have some random people starting to follow us – I can’t see why on earth they would be interested in what we’re talking about, I guess some are just looking for a follow back. Hopefully as some of these social networking sites mature these bad practices will become more exposed and frowned upon, people will get wise to it and they will become ineffective, so the technology stays meaningful and useful for everyone. Hurrah!

    Notice you already have some comments from people blatantly ignoring your advice! :)

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  20. Great content!!! I really in search of these types of blogger strategies. This will help me to get traffic towards my blog.
    Thank you very much!!!!!!!!

  21. This is one of the helpful articles that I’m reading in building my own blog. Now I know that using google webmaster’s tool is enough to promote your blog. What important is your content, as well as your readers than to have the top spot in google

  22. I have heard of most of these, and they are definitely to be observed! But what about link swapping? If you organically swap links with another blog, via mutual interest, does that impact your PR positively or negatively? I am not talking about the “pay me $10 and I’ll post your site link on 100 sites” type of links either.

  23. This is really a fantastic strategies to get the website top ranked on all the major search engines….in this post you have given everything which I want and searching on Google or may be other Search engines…..If you have any other post so please send me the link on my Email ID

    Abhishek Gupta

  24. I really love this post because you have mentioned each and everything for getting the website top ranked and can you tell, how can we use forum sites and what are FFA (Free For All) Sites. If you have any other information which I want so please let me know through Email which I have mentioned in this Post


  25. Mine is a question. I have a spiritual blog on Blogger. To the side I have widgets to Ezinearticles.com and HubPages.com which I also write for. At the bottom, I list what I consider interesting sites that are related to my topic. Do you all think that is OK or too much?

    Many thanks.

  26. First off I need to say this, WOW. This blog is one of the most complete ones I have seen online, I am learning alot of stuff from reading your posts that I never though about at all.

    Keep the tips coming, I want to learn more =)

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