As the owner of a Country Mall and Top Site List, I have been asked several times about what to put in the sign up form when it asks for the URL or the HTML of a banner or other image. I have people that email me feeling totally lost and have no idea what they mean! Actually, it is very easy once you know WHAT they are talking about and HOW to do what they want you to do.
The URL (which stands for "Uniform Resource Locator") of your banner or any image on your site(or any image on the internet for that matter), is the "address" of the image itself. When someone views a page, each image on the page has its own unique URL or address. The URL of the image tells the page viewer's browser where to go to get the image and make it show up on the screen.
To find out the URL of an image, you can right-click it and choose "properties" from the drop down menu. You will get a pop up box that has all of the information about that image in it. You will see the URL of the banner there. It will start with http:// and end will end with .gif or .jpg depending on the image's file type(it might end in .bmp or .png). THAT is what the Top Sites list is asking for when they say "Banner URL".
When you use your banner's URL to make it show up on the Top Site List it is called "Hotlinking" or "Direct Linking". You might see a message on some sites where they ask you NOT to direct link to THEIR images; this is what that means. You can't right click and get the URL to someone else's images and use them that way. It uses up that site's Bandwidth, (which is information that is passed back and forth from your computer and that site). That is stealing. BUT you can do that for your own banners and images on your own site.
Some sites that you exchange links with will ask you to send your HTML code for your banner rather than the banner itself. The reason for this is because when you send them the HTML, it contains your banner's URL, and uses the Bandwidth on your own site, to make it show up. That keeps the site you are listing on from using up too much of their own space placing the banners for you and for others. So if someone wants to exchange banners with you and they ask for the HTML of your banner, you will give them the following code (be sure to change all () to <> brackets in order for the code to work correctly):
(a href="http://www.YOURSITE.com")("img src="http://www.YOURSITE.com/YOURIMAGENAME.gif")(/a)
(**See note below.)
(You may have to change the .gif to .jpg or a different extension depending on the type of image file to which you are linking. This code with make your banner show up on their site and be linked back to you!
Beware though! There are a few pitfalls! If your site is hosted for free, then it may not allow direct linking. You will need to check your host's policies before attempting to direct link to your images.
You will also want to leave those images in your website's files at all times, because if you delete them, then your banner will not show up anywhere you have left your URL or HTML! It will result in broken images and that can get you removed from the Top Site or from the site with which you exchanged banners.
HTML and can an extremely useful tool. Learning the small "basics" can help you in many ways to improve and market your website more effectively!