Sunday, July 26, 2009

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

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.
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