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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. Kevin,

    You are the rockinest!

    This is a great list for noobs and old hands alike. I seriously considered how many of things things I might be doing – thank goodness I’m batting 1000.

    Heading over to your blog to subscribe, ’cause I need more of this!



  2. As somebody who has made a number of those “good mistakes” – what I prefer to call common mistakes, I read your post with interest and bemusement. Context, as so often, seems critical here.

    How do you judge success? Getting over 150 comments on your blog posting certainly confirms some degree of success here. You’ve hit upon a common paradox – great content will draw traffic, but only if it is picked up by Google – and perhaps Yahoo in Asia. So how does one get noticed? Ah, there’s the rub.

    Personally, I like the social media buttons because they make genuine communication between like-minded folks much easier. I’ve joined in conversations, discovered new links, and become more aware. In fact, I discovered your blog post via social media. So let’s not go overboard in criticizing those social media buttons.

    Or at least that’s my perspective.

  3. This post has touched on one of my ancient sins: being laconic. When I’m awed by a blog post, I generally can’t go beyond the “great post, thanks” comment. I guess that habit has to go – thanks, genuinely!

    I disagree with you on the Twitter part though. I think Twitter will grow bigger.. and bigger.. and will be made more ‘civilized’ somewhere along the way (when they finally find a way to monetize it). That’s when tweet spam will receive a hefty blow, too. Twitter is the Facebook of the future, make no mistake.

  4. “Very good post, thank you for writing it”…….. Oh wait, duh, just caught myself doing exactly what you said not to do. I actually have done a few of the things you have listed. My biggest thing I need to work on is the section about the social media sites.

    My site is still young and I am still very new to this blogging stuff. I guess I was starting to let my lack of patience effect the way my blog may be perceived by some visitors. I just want traffic, and I want it now!!! Thanks for the eye-opener.

  5. So don’t we need a “like” button on our blogs?
    Sometimes I just want to say “great post, thanks” not to get ppl to my blog but to say that I appreciate your work.
    Having had this thought here reading your post, I’ll write a post about it. Thanks!

  6. I always wondered wheteher one should submit all his posts to social media stes or be slective.. well I guess I have my asnwer, but then there has to be some way in which we get to our audience faster. I have just started out and was using Digg,r reditt extensively.. wont do it now . Was wondering how else can I get the traffic to zoom.

  7. @Kevin @ This is Broken

    Thanks, and point well taken. I’ll revisit my strategy and look at adding more value rather than links at this point. It’s only been 4 months since this site has been up.


  8. great tips! I especially enjoyed the one about commenting as I do tent to leave comments like that. Oh well, its never too late to learn. thanks!

  9. Ok, this has really made me think of how to usefully promote http://powermywordpress.com . I guess I need to really look at the long term and realize I won’t get immediate success with it. I need to keep writing articles and perhaps offer my services for free to a few people, who hopefully will spread the word. If anyone is interested in a Free WordPress install, with plugins, themes, transfer of old posts to new blog with Free Hosting, write me through the site above. Anyway, thanks Darren, I’m going to rethink how I’m getting this service out there!

  10. Ya I was doing all these things when I was new to blogging.When I turned back after a long ride as an unsuccessful blogger I found my ideas were absolutely wrong.Now I started doing thins well and I have more than 1000 pagevisits everyday.Thank you pb (:

  11. I agree with #8 as there are some many networks you can’t possibly do them all justice… but, what do you think about claiming your name on as many of them as possible? I have done that on a lot of sites just so no one else grabs my moniker – but then I don’t revisit many of them. I’m always amazed when someone finds me on one of them and starts following me there and then finds the other ones I’m regularly on and follows there too.
    I only post 3-4 badges on my sites as I too think it’s overkill to put them all, and only my Facebook and Twitter are linked so I’m not saying the same things in 15 different places.
    Good points for newbies especially! I asked for a link/blogroll listing too early and luckily was met with gentle encouragement to “really get rolling and after a few months I’ll add you” – which was much appreciated!

  12. Just in time!, I was thinking of submitting my posts on all social media, wont do it now. Thanks. btw how good is it to submit to free directories?

  13. Hi Kevin, thanks for the great article.

    2 questions to ponder:

    1. You mentioned about social media – which social media should we focus on? Everyone goes on technorati, for example, but with too many blogs there, you wont be getting much referal unless u’re already at your top.

    2. Can bots detect no-index in the comments? I noticed that when I don’t tick on no-index, that’s when I get lotsa spam comments

  14. Very helpful post.

    I can see I’ve been guilty of at least two … ok, three … of these. And it now makes sense why they’re broken strategies. (Uh, no, I’m not going to say which ones. :-) )

    And, thanks to this post, I’m *not* going to be guilty of at least three more because you’ve confirmed my assessments on: search engine submission auto-submitters, link exchanges, link requests to other bloggers, and submitting all posts to social media sites. (Though I do have an RSS feed to my FB Page…does that mean my blog promo strat’s broken???)


  15. Thanks for this thoughtful post. And thanks for referring me to Zen Habits. I didn’t know about this site til right now. I love it. You rock!

  16. good post.

    (hahahaha.. sorry. i had to do it :-p )

    as a new-ish blogger, this is really informative. :)
    i think that with the seemingly overnight success of Perez Hilton’s blog, everyone wants to be the next big blogger. That’s when people get hungry for blog attention, and start over-promoting their blogs.

    I think i have two followers on my blog. two friends from highschool, and they almost never write in theirs, and I rarely write in mine. It’s on my facebook, and the odd person will go on once in a blue moon, but I see no point in making it some life focus, especially since I have a day job. It’s so much to keep up with (blogs).

    Either way, they’re fun to read and write in :)

    One more mistake that people make, is leaving it where anyone can leave a comment without it being moderated. there’s some rude people out there. There has to be a *bit* of censorship.

  17. Okay, I have found a way to add value to your (NOT you’re) blog and engage you with that in mind. I just copied your sentence–Shane, you’re comment is broken.–to use in the next post on my blog, which is all about grammar glitches. Check out my post headlined, “Please Keep YOU, YOUR, and YOU’RE Straight!” on May 8, 2009 to see more about the problem in “You’re comment is broken.”

    I did enjoy the ten tips, and I am just learning to put things like that to use.

  18. Nice tips – I really think being a successful blogger takes A LOT of patience and persistence. Yes, we all want to be the next Heather Armstrong, but even she didn’t see over-night success.

    The real key is to respect other bloggers and blogs the way that you want your blog to be respected and treated.

  19. Actually according to research performed by some company I know managed to forgot yahoo has about 20% of the SE market vs google’s almost 60%, so in my opinion you should keep up to date on your yahoo rankings as well.

    Other than that very informative post, theres something about the 10 this 10 that 5 this 5 that blog post format that annoys me but you made up for it in content, almost anyway :p (Can’t be too nice or I’ll lose all my readers and visitors.)

  20. So, if we can’t self-promote (and personally I don’t like reading others self promotion) how do we get recognition? I read this as: the only option, as a newbie blogger, is to go the SEO route? Because until you do get some form of recognition who’s going to promote it?

    I must admit (I think I may have mentioned this in an earlier comment) that I have self promoted on Mixx, Digg & Twitter but only for certain posts that I thought provided value and not just simply for your average post. Although I was quite undecided about doing it.

    I’d really appreciate it if someone could give the heads up to us newbie bloggers (myself being 1 of) as to how to get recognition without self promotion.

    Tips, tricks, posts, books, links – I’m not fussy (or lazy but this post seems to be attracting the right mindset of people who may be able to help)

    Thanks in advance to anyone who does respond. :)

  21. Thank you for this great post . the last about really interested me because i have wasted a lot of time trying to get my blog submitted to every known SE and directory . It is not worth it :(

  22. Great post. It’s great to know not only the strategies that work and are successful but also the one’s to avoid and that definitely don’t work. I recently wrote an article on my website about a new service that Amazon is offering where blog authors can sell a subscription to their blogs on the Kindle Store. The blog articles are sent directly to the Kindle, so the service can not only expand your reader base but also make you a bit of money on the side. Again very useful post Darren! You can read the article about Amazon Kindle publishing for blogs here http://www.abiztechnews.com/?p=371

  23. My blog is one month old.I used to commit no. of the mistakes you mentioned out here. I can’t tell you how helpful these tips will be for me especially the bad commenting one and twitter one. From now on, it won’t happen again….Thank you so much…

  24. This was a very helpful article. I do admit that I have been guilty of leaving a “Shane” remark too in the past. I have learned to manage my time wisely so I can really get a chance to absorb what I am reading so that I can leave more feedback for the writer. I have also had people leave “Shane” remarks for my articles too and it helped me realize that everyone deserves for their work to be appreciated. I think that your article was really helpful and I think it will make us all become better at leaving comments and promoting our work.

  25. What I like most about this blog is that it takes humanity back to computing. Of course there is a web savvy to acquire, of course there is a long way to go, but basically, on the other side of the wire there is always a human being like me, who wants amusement, relations and not being cheated. Thank you Darren. Posts like this make things much less frightening.

  26. I have been doing online marketing for about 9 months. Before I used to just submit my site’s pages to all the social bookmarking sites. I’d see a ton of links come up on google the next day. Then, wait 6 weeks – all GONE! I strongly agree that with good quality text articles Google will instantly fall in love with your blog and you won’t have to waste time spamming the social bookmarking sites. Thanks for putting up this list. -David

  27. I am sure I have been guilty of all of the things you mentioned, at least a few times, especially in my early days of blogging. I think what is important is that we learn from our mistakes. When I first started blogging, it was for a school assignment and I really didn’t take it seriously, that is until it started getting noticed. Then I think I tried to hard and maybe made a few mistakes with look, feel and yes, even content. (www.everydaypublicrelations.com if interested) I am working hard now to clean up and grow as a blogger and I appreciate posts like this one since they allow a blogger to do just that. I do have the Problogger book and am slowly working towards having a great blog someday. I know I love to write, and want to share so I figure that with continued hard work and effort (and reading posts like yours) that all good things will come in time. I really did enjoy this post so thanks.

  28. Great tips. I do agree that Google is a great search engine and the main one to target, but I do not think that “the only search engine you need to target is Google”….other search engines produce results that Google may not. I think we should care about ALL search engines…but, most definitely with GOOD content not keyword diarrhea.

  29. That’s a good list you have there for budding bloggers like me and full-time bloggers alike. I’ve just started reading posts here in problogger and I think I’m getting somewhere far from blogging failure. Cheers for a great post.

  30. That was a great post, thank you for writing it
    i just couldn’t resist….seriously Darren, this is my first visit to your blog. I followed a link from Facebook and I’m glad I did. There are so many great points here.

    I am no expert on this but I think those who are offenders of the blogging “rules” don’t realize how transparent they are….many times to the point of embarassament! I especially agree with your take on the keyword soup issue, and the violation of copying content/style! Hate that – and I HAVE seen it!

  31. Would you change the list if you were talking to a retail company or service company who is using their blog as a way of keeping their site fresh, driving traffic, but not necessarily making a living from their blog specifically?

  32. You just hit the nail on the head. In as much as we talk about the
    ‘what to do to succeed’, it’s even more important to talk about the
    ‘what not to do’. I make some of these mistakes, but i’m always
    cautious of them. I subscribed to this blog feed that floods my mail
    inbox with more than 14 feeds every week. I got irritated at a point
    with the repetition of contents with rebranded topics, I recieve. I know
    a lot of bloggers want to keep their blogs updated for search engines but
    it should be done with regards for your subscribers. I also write
    about blogging and developing your writing skill.

  33. That was wonderful ! you have given great tips about promoting my blog. I had been using many techniques of promoting by blog. Majority of the traffic comes from google.

  34. Thank you

    Kevin @ This is Broken and Dawn Pedersen, I’m going to unfollow some people who don’t add much value. Thank you for the advice

  35. I just cant stop leaving a post here saying great post lol

    but i wont i think if you leave some relevance to the post you are doing better as you enjoy leaving comments because they are meaningful then just spamming by leaving two liners

  36. I agree on many of your points and have learned something. But on point #9: copying someone else’s style or idea, I don’t quite get you. Are you saying we should have original content but copy people’s styles?

    If that’s the case, then I don’t agree with you. I think everyone should have their own style because style is connected to personality, and since everyone’s personality is unique and different in some way, having your own personal style is a critical factor for you to stand out.

    What we should copy are things like the topics that people are talking about in the blogosphere. The content should not be plagarized and should be original, but we can and should search for ideas for our content from fellow bloggers in our niche.

    Another thing is I don’t regard other bloggers in my niche as competitors, but friends! Blogging is all about building relationships, and we should be helping one another grow our respective blogs.

    Sorry for picking this one point out of the ten, but one of the best ways I find that contributes to a conversation is to state a different opinion.

    Other than that… great post. (LOL! I couldn’t resist!)

  37. 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.

  38. Philip,

    Recognition comes from adding value to people’s lives free, gaining their trust, and doing something exceptional that makes them want to talk about you.

    I know it’s harder than spamming everyone but it’s better in the long run.


    It’s more complicated than that. If you’d like to discuss further, email me at kgeary83 [at] gmail [dot] com.

  39. I want to say a thing about point 7.

    There are many bloggers that write for search engine. I agree with you: This is a mistake! It is an error!

    And search engines programmers are developing better software, to recognize also semantic means of our web contents!

    So, that bloggers risk to get penalities from Google and others!

    Sorry for my English!
    Great Post (he he! This is not SPAM! ;)

  40. I’m desparately trying to learn how to “retweet” — tweet someone else’s tweet? Is that even possible. Or should I just be tweeting other people’s posts (I kind of already do that…) I’ve got a note into my tech guru and hope to get a response today….

  41. I blog with several “identities” everyday – the main ones being for a business to business marketing blog and a then a personal, art-based blog. The rationale and audience for each is very different of course but these 10 rules apply in a general sense to all of them.

    However (!) – the marketing blog is driven by twitter and announcing articles as you produce them and watching for the same thing is expected and very useful. It’s all about the headlines and I enjoy glancing at the tweets in the bottom left of my screen as I work. There are lots of schlocky spam accounts in the marketing twitter scene of course, but it is pretty easy to tell which ones those are…As well, being found on all social platforms is a no-brainer.

    Taking that approach into my art blog though makes no sense and would end up being the mistake you are warning me about. I would be a spammer and nothing turns people off respecting you (and your blog) than a sense of desperation.

    Your rules do seem to apply more to blogs that start off as personal opinions and niche writing and end up being successful businesses than businesses starting a blog and hoping it will be successful because of it’s opinions.

    Hope that makes sense!

  42. Cool article.

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to write it. I’m just starting out and am struggling with the business aspects of blogging versus the altruistic aspects. I think that ultimately its about being honest and having valid, interesting content to share. Just like this post.


  43. LOL! I’m guilty of trying to submit to all social medias available. alright I learned my lesson. tsk tsk tsk. I agree with forums and leaving comments professionally and sincerely not spammy. building good relationships in the blogosphere is also really good becaus after all the usual readers are bloggers themselves. Thanks for sharing (sincerely)

  44. I appreciate you writing this blog. I’m trying to get started and obviously have much to learn as I need to search some of the terms used! Thanks

  45. (…)”Unfortunately, as Twitter gets more mainstream it’s going to lose value.”

    Who says so? Only your opinion or some news from twitter or influential people?


  46. twitter is supposed to be personalised, and aimed at your audience, so i twitter about what i did or what i think, your saying thats wrong? lol

  47. Nice post, thanks for writing…..just kidding…..I’ve broken just about every commandment on this article. I intend to change my ways and add value where I can. What about asking people to view your site? Is this a major no-no?

  48. A must read for new bloggers. I’m sure I was guilty of several of these infractions when I first started blogging.

  49. Your tips made me reconsider some of my last thoughts to increase my pagerank. I’ll even give up some of the old ones. To be honest I’ve had already reached the conclusion that, for example, addthis.com was pretty useless. Thanks.

  50. Thanks for the ideas. I just recently joined twitter and started a blog; I love to learn what to do and not do to build relationships. I may have to check #8 on my blog. I do not want to get carried away. Thanks again for your tips.

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