July 1, 2002-- Newsletter #187

By Joe Burns



Goodies to Go (tm)
July 1, 2002--Newsletter #187

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.
http://www.internet.com
 


 
Goodies Thoughts - Promoting Your Website

Recently, we've been taking some time to discuss search engines and how they work. We also talked about several ways to get your site noticed and ranked by search engines. Well, this week I thought we might discuss some other ways to build traffic to your website.

 

For the most part, what we will talk about in this issue will only be useful in your more commercial applications of web development. If you are only interested in building a personal web site then focusing on the search engine optimization that we talked about in the last issue will probably be enough.

 

If, however, you want to drive folks to your web site to sell a product, service or yourself then here are a few tips on different types of advertising:

 

Banner Ads - Ahhh, yes, the old banner ad. Banner ads are probably the most common and some would say the least effective form of advertising on the web. Recent surveys show that the general web surfing community has pretty much become numb to banner ads on the web. So, does that mean that you shouldn't use banner, button and other similar ads to promote your website?

 

No, of course not. Even though banner advertising is not as effective as it once was, banner ads will still draw traffic to your site. Here are some things to consider, though, before launching your banner ad campaign:

  • Take a careful look at the sites you are considering advertising with and get some recent page view statistics.

  • Determine whether your ad is one of only a few or many. The fewer the ads on the site, the more likely you are to get a banner ad click.

  • Will your ad have a permanent location or will it be randomly rotated with other ads. If it is randomly rotated with other ads, be sure to find out how many other ads and whether that rotation is evenly weighted or not. You can use this information in cooperation with the web statistics to better determine how many times your ad will be seen.

  • Consider the different types of contracts. Some sites will sell you advertising on a very simple monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Other sites will sell based on the number of impressions. Selling by impressions means your ad will be appear x number of times. Lastly, some sites will charge you little or no upfront fees for advertising but will bill you for each time someone clicks on your ad. Once you know the type of contract you can better determine which is the most cost-effective for you.

Keep in mind that even the most successful of banner ads will only be clicked less than 4% of the time. Be sure to always low-ball your estimate when trying an advertising campaign for the first time. Consider the number of clicks that you will get at 1% or less to start with. Once your campaign has begun, check your statistics often to get a feel for how much traffic your ads are really generating and don't be afraid to change the ads themselves if your results are not what you expected. Also, keep in mind that long running ad campaigns tend to peak early and then taper off over time. In order to lessen the that effect, change your ads frequently.

 

Pop-up and Pop-under Ads - I'm sure you have seen these types of ads everywhere you go on the web. While they do get people's attention and give you more space to advertise in, I personally find them annoying. Not to mention, most of my friends and colleagues find them annoying as well. I think it's because it requires a user intervention to actually close the ad unlike banner ads which simply come and go with each page. I'm not sure that necessarily makes us the norm, but it does tell me that a significant number of people are annoyed by them. If you are considering pop-up or pop-under ads on other sites be prepared to pay more for them. They are the newest and hottest thing right now. Personally, I always try to talk my clients out of using these type of ads and would never purchase one myself, but that's just me. You may find that the results you get from these type of ads worth the cost.

 

Newsletter Ads - This particular form of advertising is often overlooked. Depending on the product or service that you provide, this may be a very effective form of advertising for you. There are a few very key benefits to newsletter advertising:

  • Your audience is much more targeted. Instead of hodgepodge of different people wandering through a given website, you now have a group of people that have voluntarily opted to subscribe to their special interest. This gives you the opportunity to advertise products and services that you know are of interest to the subscriber base.

  • Often these ads are sold on an issue by issue basis. This allows you to get short term boosts to your site traffic. These short term boosts are very useful for promoting specials and short-term discounts.

When advertising in newsletters often the only information that you get is the total subscriber base. That number may not actually be a true reflection of how many people actually take the time to read each issue of the newsletter. As with banner advertising, you should keep a very close eye on the results of your advertising. Unlike banner ads, though, repetitive advertising over a long period will often get you better results, especially if you offer regular specials as a part of the advertisement. Eventually, readers will begin to read your advertisement each issue just to see what you have on sale. This technique can also be applied to banner ads.

 

Link Exchanges - This is probably your most cost-effective means of advertising. There are several different ways that you can approach this:

  • Swapping links or ads with other sites. This is usually a fair exchange of links with other websites. "I'll put a link to you on my site if you put a link to me on your site" kind of thing. If you are considering exchanging links with another site be sure to compare their traffic with yours. If you generate much more traffic through your site that they do theirs, consider alternatives to make the exchange more fair. For example, if your traffic is much higher than theirs you may want to propose that they place one of your banner ads on their site while you place a simple text link on yours.

  • Using link exchange services. These can be very useful services. They basically act as a middle man. They offer people that want to advertise and people that are looking to put advertising on their sites a forum for getting together. Business who wish to advertise will usually pay on a commission or click-through basis with the exchange service taking a cut. (A click-through occurs each time someone clicks on a banner ad or text ad) The sites that display that advertising will then be paid based on the sales commission percentage or click-throughs. If you are interested in using a link exchange service, there are several out there. Here's a couple to get you started: http://www.linkshare.com and http://www.cj.com.

  • Of course the best advertising is getting people to link to your site without soliciting them or doing an exchange at all. That, of course, is the real trick. Making your site so wonderful and appealing that everyone will want to link to it is the goal of every web designer and developer.

E-mail (SPAM) - If you have read any of my other newsletters, you know how I feel about SPAM. Keep in mind SPAM is a far cry from a legitimate opt-in e-mail list. If you are considering buying an email list and SPAMming consider these very important issues:

  • Purchased e-mail lists are often filled with a very high percentage of undeliverables or dead accounts.

  • They are obviously sold to many other individuals and business, which means you will be competing with dozens of other businesses for inbox space.

  • Many people are very annoyed by SPAM and will often avoid a site like the plague if they have received SPAM from it.

  • If you are on a hosted server, your host may very much frown on the sending of SPAM and shut you down if you violate their anti-SPAMming rules.

  • SPAMming can get you black-listed from many e-mail servers which can cause you problems in the future when you send out non-SPAM e-mails.

E-mailing to a legitimate opt-in list is an altogether different matter. If you offer your own newsletter or other regular publication, you may be already building a legitimate e-mail list for yourself. It is perfectly acceptable and recommended to take advantage of any e-mail list that you accumulate as long as the person specifically chooses to receive periodic product or service announcements. You can achieve this by either giving the subscriber the option of receiving such advertisements or making them aware that they may receive advertisements from time to time if they choose to subscribe.

 

You also may find it advantageous to purchase a "third-party" e-mail advertisement from another website. This usually consists of a short text e-mail advertising your product and is sent to a list of subscribers that have opted to receive information from "select third-party vendors". That phrase is usually a catch-all for "any vendor that wants to rent our list". While this type of advertising is considered by many to be in that "gray" area, keep in mind the subscriber did opt to receive the advertisements. Also keep in mind that you may have the same difficulties in competing for space in the inbox that you have with SPAM.

 

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas and tips on how to go beyond the search engine and increase your site traffic. Just remember to do a little research before you commit to anything and you'll find yourself getting your money's worth in traffic.

 

Thanks for reading!

 


Quiz Goodies

What are Cascading Style Sheets and how do you include them in your web pages?

 

Read answer below.



Q & A Goodies

Questions are taken from submissions to our Community Mentors. You can ask a Mentor a question by going to http://www.htmlgoodies.com/mentors/.

 

 

Q. I want a script that will load a random picture (from a range of choices). It might be nice if the user could subsequently click to cycle the pictures, but the main idea is to get a new picture every time the site is visited.

 

A. Here is an example of a script that displays an Image and a Text Link:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>Random Link</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>

<TABLE ALIGN="center" BORDER="0" WIDTH="200" HEIGHT="100" CELLSPACING="0" CELLPADDING="0">
<TR ALIGN="center" VALIGN="top">
<TD ALIGN="center" VALIGN="top">
<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript">

/* Enter the address, the name and image you want to show up when the link is displayed.

You must separate them with a comma or the script will not work correctly. You also cannot use a comma in the address or name, this will also cause problems.

This script was created by Jim Young of www.requestcode.com.
Please leave the credit in the comments if you use this script.
*/

var linkarr=new Array()

linkarr[0]="http://www.wsabstract.com,Website Abstraction,0.gif"

linkarr[1]="http://www.dynamicdrive.com,Dynamic Drive,1.gif"

linkarr[2]="http://www.requestcode.com,Request Code,2.gif"

linkarr[3]="http://www.hotscripts.com,Hot Scripts,3.gif"

linkarr[4]="http://www.htmlgoodies.com,HTML Goodies,4.gif"

len=linkarr.length // how many entries in the array

randnm=Math.round(Math.random()*(len-1))

ranlink=linkarr[randnm].split(",") // separate the address and name

document.write("<A HREF='"+ranlink[0]+"' TITLE='"+ranlink[1]+"'><IMG SRC="+ranlink[2]+" ALT='"+ranlink[1]+"' BORDER=0></A><BR>")

document.write("<A HREF='"+ranlink[0]+"' TITLE='"+ranlink[1]+"'>"+ranlink[1]+"</A>")

document.close()

</SCRIPT>
</TD>
</TR>
</TABLE>

<BR><BR>

<CENTER>
<FONT SIZE="-1" COLOR="red">Click the Reload/Refresh button to see a different image and link</FONT>
<BR><BR>
</CENTER>


</BODY>
</HTML>
 

*** This question was submitted to our Mentor Community. The answer was provided by Jim Young, one of our JavaScript Mentors.

 

 

Q. I'd like my HTML doc to be center aligned in the browser just like www.cnet.com. On their site, as soon as the resolution is higher than 800*600, the document is center aligned instead of left aligned like 99% of the web.

 

A. The best approach for this is to design your page all within a fixed width table. If you want your page to be optimal for 800 x 600 then make the table width around 780. (The 800 x 600 size is considered the standard anymore.)

 

Once you have your entire page enclosed in the table simply center the table like this:

 

<DIV ALIGN="center">
<CENTER>
<TABLE BORDER="0" CELLPADDING="0" CELLSPACING="0" WIDTH="780">
<TR>
<TD>Your contents here</TD>
</TR>
</TABLE>
</CENTER>
</DIV>

 

That's all there is to it. Now your page will be centered in any window 800 pixels wide or larger.
 

 

Q. There are components that are common to all pages on the site - navigation links, logo, information text boxes etc. I was therefore wondering if one can develop a 'master document' type page, that includes all the common elements, that will allow one to make the necessary changes to all pages at the same time or does one simply have to make all the same changes to every page individually?

 

A. You can set up your files to have "include file" within the HTML. Take a look at this tutorial on the HTMLGoodies site:

http://www.htmlgoodies.com/beyond/asp.html

 

*** This question was submitted to our Mentor Community. The answer was provided by Bob Conley, one of our Web Design Mentors.



News Goodies

IBM, VeriSign, and Microsoft submit Web Services Securtiy specification.

Click here to read the article

 

Speaking of Web services, IBM releases SDK to encourage Java-based Web services.

Click here to read the article

 

Microsoft announces a new .NET language...Visual J# .NET.

Click here to read the article

 
 
Quiz Answer

Cascading Style Sheets are a central location for all of your web site's basic formatting. In a CSS you can define things like font size, font style, background color, rollover effects and much more.

 

By having all of your basic design definitions in one location it becomes very easy to affect changes to the entire site. For example, let's say you have a site that has several hundred pages. Your boss decides he now hates the Times New Roman font that you chose for all of the basic text in your site. He now wants to see Arial everywhere. With one simple change to your CSS, you have effectively changed your entire site in a matter of minutes.

 

Here is how you include a CSS in your web page:

 

<HEAD>
<TITLE>My Title</TITLE>
<LINK REL="stylesheet" TYPE="text/css" HREF="MyCSS.css">
</HEAD>

 

Now, here's what a CSS file might look like:

 

a:active { color: #0000FF }
a:link { color: #000080 }
a:visited { color: #0000FF }
body { font-family: Comic Sans MS; font-size: 10pt; color:#000000; background-color:#FFFFFF; margin-top:2; margin-bottom:2 }
h1 { font-size: 10pt; font-family: Comic Sans MS; font-weight: bold; }
h2 { font-size: 12pt; font-family: Comic Sans MS; font-weight: bold; }
h3 { font-family: Comic Sans MS; font-size: 14pt; font-weight: bold; }
h4 { font-size: 18pt; font-family: Comic Sans MS; font-weight: bold; }
h5 { font-size: 24pt; font-family: Comic Sans MS; font-weight: bold; }
h6 { font-size: 36pt; font-family: Comic Sans MS; font-weight: bold; }
table { font-size: 10pt; font-family: Comic Sans MS; color: #000000; margin-top: 2; margin-bottom: 2 }
td { margin-top: 2; margin-bottom: 2; font-family:Comic Sans MS; font-size:10pt }
p { font-family: Comic Sans MS; font-size: 10pt; color: #000000; margin-top: 2; margin-bottom: 2 }

.small-recipe { font-size: 8pt; color: #FFFFFF }

 

As you can see there are several different basic HTML elements defined here as well as a custom style defined as small-recipe. You can use a CSS to define many different basic HTML elements as well as your own custom definitions.

 

 

And Remember This . . .

Most of you, I'm sure, know that the 4th of July is a national holiday in the U.S., marking the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence. It was first celebrated on July 8, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was not finished until August of that year, however, July 4th became the accepted Independence Day in the U.S. How about this for a little factoid, did you know that the 4th was not made a legal holiday until 1941?


Did you also know that two of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence died on July 4th? U.S. Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died 50 years after the signing, to the day. President James Monroe also died on the 4th, but in 1831. On July 4, 1872, President Calvin Coolidge was born.

 

Happy 4th of July!


Thanks for reading Goodies to Go!

 

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