improving your Banners
Promotion is the name of the game. If you weren't
convinced your site demanded a wider audience, you wouldn't
be out there fishing for that audience. And that's what
banner exchanges are all about.
The first step is designing your banners. (Yes,
Too many sites make the mistake of taking their site's
header, modifying it to fit the size requirements of the
banner exchange, and then uploading it, assuming the job is
done. While that's a legitimate way to get started, that is
not all there is to it. No matter how attractive, this
banner doesn't invite a response. It says there's a site
called Mac Webmasters, and that you can get there by
clicking the banner, but gives you no reason to do so.
With that in mind, lets create ten "rules" to make your
banners more effective:
- Ask the viewer to do something. "Visit Mac
Webmasters" invites the viewer to your site. "Click here"
asks for a response. "Surf to Mac Webmasters" is a
friendly request for a click. Be brazen if that's what it
- Get the viewer's attention. Studies show that
an animated banner gets about 25% more clicks than a
static one. Good use of color and bold type also help.
Look at what paying sponsors do with animated GIFs --
they pay good money for these ads and want to make sure
they work. Be willing to break the rules if it brings
people to your site.
- Speed counts. Mac Web Network will not let you
upload a banner over 7K in size because it takes longer
to load bigger files. Learn how to minimize colors, or
play with compression settings to get your banners as
small (fast) as possible.
- One is not enough. Macseek allows you to have
three separate banners. Mac Web Network defaults to two
(a recent development). Not only should you have several
banners, but you should rotate them and create new ones
regularly. (Another lesson from the world of
- Display it everywhere. After all, not everyone
visits your home page. People will bookmark other pages
to visit regularly. Make sure they'll see a banner so
you'll get another credit toward another exposure.
- Get the credit due you. When I first used Mac
Web Network, I simply copied the same banner display code
to every page on my site. Since then I've leared that you
can customize the "codes" and get credit for each page
viewed -- after that my hit rates tripled!
- Choose your focus. You may want to pick one
banner exchange and stick with it. Or you might want to
choose two or more. That's fine, but know the strengths
and weaknesses of each exchange.
- Don't overdo it. This is a corollary to Rule
7. Even if you decide you should be on Mac Web Network,
Macseek, Link Exchange, and others, don't display all the
banners on all your pages -- or even on your home page.
For one, it clutters things up. For another, it really
slows load time for your page. (Same rule applies to
rings, but that's another subject.) For the most part, I
design pages with one ad banner, on exchange banner, and
a handful of other graphics. Very few pages have two
banner exchanges displayed, even though I often use both
MWN and Macseek on my sites. (This site is an obvious
- Track your statistics.Track pages viewed,
banners displayed, and click-throughs in a database or
spreadsheet. Make notes each time you change your banner,
then see if the click rate rises or falls. You can also
use this information to see if one banner exchange is
serving your needs better than another.
- Do evangelism. Correspond with the webmaster
of any exchange you participate in. If you have pathetic
click-throughs, ask for some advice. After all, the
better you do, the better it reflects on their exchange.
And tell fellow Mac webmasters about your success with
the exchange(s) you use. The more participants, the
broader your exposure.
Become an informed consumer. Learn how things work and
why. If your site is worth the time you spend on it, it's
worth promoting so others will benefit from it. Remember,
growing your site 1% per day doubles your hits in three
months -- using two banner exchanges may double that rate of
For more tips on banner design: