Creating Your Own Banners

Hello reader,

Many of you bloggers have asked how I make the book ads on the right column of the website. There are a few steps for doing so on a website that has a media component though essentially there isn’t much difference between doing so on an HTML page or using a widget on WordPress, Elgg, or Drupal.

The first thing you’ll need is the image that you’ll be using. On a wordpress site you’ll have a media library where you can upload the image and get the link to that image as shown. (Image URL)

Archived

The image URL can be pasted into the banner code as described below…

The coding looks like this for banners:

<a href=”This is where you put the *Link”><img src=”This is where you put the Image URL”></a>

A “*Link” is wherever you want the banner image to send the person who clicks on the image. In the case of my own ads it sends you to amazon.com and directs you to my author page. It can just as easily contain affiliate code after the web address and on many blogs does contain such code.

To put a banner in a text/html widget you simply copy out the code I provided and replace everything between the quotation marks with the appropriate web address and image urls.  (There are two sets or quotation marks.)

While you can adjust the sizes, you’ll find that as long as the image isn’t overlapping your sidebar area it usually looks perfectly fine. This can be done with gif images as well as jpg and png images though for gif animations to work correctly your site can not be using a widget cache system.

Don’t bother with images larger than 400 x 400 (250 x 250 is usually adequate.) Thumbnails work well too!

Getting the image URL on other CMS.

On an Html site you would need to upload a folder for images, and use the location of the image you uploaded into that folder in exactly the same way. For example if your website was example.com and your picture folder was “pictures folder” and the image were called 001.png the image url would look like this,

http://www.example.com/pictures_folder/001.png

In Drupal there are places to upload images, as well as media library plugins that can make finding the image url easy. Generally by right clicking on the images in the library you can find it’s url by right clicking and selecting “copy the external html” via the right click menu.

In Elgg you have the same options, and depending upon the layout you can use a similar technique for adding theme elements to articles and pages.

Security related concerns

I would suggest you never use link shortening systems in conjunction with banner ads. There are several key reasons why it isn’t a good idea and they include:

  • Antivirus browser plugin warnings
  • Site scoring scams
  • Third party malware systems

While there may be other reasons related to SEO, the main reasons listed above have serious consequences. Antivirus software is far from perfect, and browser plugins that halt redirects will spot link shorteners and flag them whether they are malicious or not. This is because in many instances they are in fact using third party link shorteners that may be doing anything from tracking the user, to redirecting them to a page with malicious scripting that can gather cookies or run machine code.

In one of the books I’d written about security this was referred to as a variety of browser based attacks based on the type of scripting that gets executed. Most notably a “Black Hole Exploit” can be accomplished in this manner and is by far the most dangerous.

*Black Hole Exploits gather your cookies and login data and then provide them to be used in clone browsers that can login to your bank, your social media accounts, etc. ~ The Zealots Guide To Computer Security

Based on that fact alone you have countless well meaning software plugins like Web Of Trust, a browser based plugin that detects sites that have been reported for attacks and uses that data to block the user from landing on such pages.

This opens a whole different series of issues related to “site safety scamming” involving either malicious users or malicious companies who happily try to extort money to restore a website from a bad rating whether they had malicious scripting or not. While I haven’t had to deal with this personally I have helped dozens of websites with no malicious code on their site get such matters straightened out.

None of those scams would exist if there weren’t third party link shortening services that make their money from exploiting user data, and you can detect the less popular ones gradually moving into more malicious territory. As their popularity fades, their likelihood of tolerating less scrupulous user activity increases.

Whether you find all of that fascinating or not it sets a precident, simply by using a link shortener in your banner ads you open yourself to the very real possibility of encouraging a bad site score, scammers trying to capitalize, user data leakages, and huge SEO penalties when some offbrand antivirus decides that your site is just full of malicious software.

In conclusion it can be useful to have banners that direct your traffic to a product, provided you have an idea of how to get people to notice the banners. In most cases these days people seem selectively blinded to banner ads. In my case they are possibly a way to get users from my site to my books, but there are really better ways to passively get people to your products.

For example links like this one.

 

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714 thoughts on “Creating Your Own Banners”

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