I disagree with a lot of what you're saying here, mostly because quite a bit of it is simply not true. While some websites may provide more views than others depending on your comic, I've found Tapastic has increased my viewership tenfold (before I had maybe like, 5 people reading the comic on my website and even less on SmackJeeves, but I've recently hit 500+ subs here and my comic certainly wasn't already popular when it was posted here, and it still got a banner feature and has been ranked #1 as most daily liked/commented/subbed before, etc.) That's mostly my own experience with it so far, though, so take it with a grain of salt; everyone has different results in different places. If Comic Fury is your thing, stick to that. If you prefer Tapastic, by all means. Nonetheless . . .
Yes, they do tend to put a lot of emphasis on the comics that are popular. Why do they do that? Because it's popular and that's what people are reading. Because the unfortunate truth is most folks - bear in mind not all folks, as I'm sure many would beg to differ, yourself included - don't want to waste time looking for less popular comics and hoping they're good.. The comics that we see today that are popular, within and outside Tapastic alike - Gamercat, Randomphilia, Awkward Zombie, Poorly Drawn Lines, etc. - are comics we've commonly seen around the web on places like Reddit/Memebase/etc. and we already know we like them. So why hunt for something you may or may not like when you can read something that you already know is an awesome comic based on what you've seen around the web and heard from their thousands of readers?
And I'm not saying I agree with this method - yes, it would be nice to have a bit more of a featured section for new things that aren't just popular right off the bat - but it is a standard method across many comic websites - not just Tapastic - because that's just popular demand and it's what the readers want and they already know they like it. It saves time, and the fact of the matter is, that's a big goal here because quite a few folks on the internet have very short attention spans and they get bored quickly, myself included. Even I would rather read a comic I already know is popular and I will probably like then go digging through thousands of comics that are mediocre or I wouldn't have much of a feel for. I -have- found some comics I like by digging, but that's mostly when I'm really in the mood for it, which doesn't happen a lot and rarely I have the time for it anyway.
When it comes to building your comic up to that kind of series? It takes a bit of aggressiveness, yes, but you don't want to seem desperate either. It takes interactivity, hard work, and most of all, patience. Chances are high you will not get popular overnight. Yes, we've had a few one-hit wonders that have (Panic Mode on Tapastic is the first comic that comes to my mind that fits this bill lol), but that is very rare and you can just throw all our cards on the table at once and assume you'll be a comic star by the time you get up in the morning. 99% of the time, it just doesn't work that way. And 1% of those people are the ones that -already- have comics that are popular and so their new series get popular right off the bat because they already have a large viewership via their -other- comics.
So don't just shove links in people's faces. I'm not lying, that -does- get annoying after a while, and all it does is display desperation on the author's part, which is just as unappealing as it sounds. Having a link sprinkled in somewhere is fine (like when people introduce themselves and say what comic they do, with the link there). Having a new thread every time you update your comic strip or only advertising your strips in threads where it's not even relevant is just obnoxious and usually makes folks even less likely to click the link.
Read other people' comics. Like them. Subscribe to them. Comment on them. This actually makes a lot more of a difference than most people make it out to be. If you can't give back to the community that you're demanding readership from, then you may as well just get out of the game of webcomics and do them just for a fun hobby. They should only really -be- for fun. If your intention from the start is to just "become famous", you're probably gonna end up getting severely disappointed. Plus you'll get bored and realize you're wasting your time. Which is bad.
And most of all, be patient. Comics like Penny Arcade and Awkward Zombie were around for -years- before they finally started to pick up steam and gain a following.
Overall, don't set your expectations too high. If you advertise, make the locations you advertise in appropriate. Be aggressive, but don't be desperate or annoying. Be realistic. Be patient. And overall just enjoy it.