Popups are stupid and obnoxious
This is very simple advice and very direct. DO NOT USE POPUP ADVERTISEMENTS. Period. I know some people are stuck with them due to their host, but don't add anymore please.
There is very little that will cause your visitors to leave your site faster than annoying them with popup ads. Now if you want your visitors to leave angry, also modify the back button so it pops up an ad. (Oh yes, and if you truly want to make them never ever come back redefine the right click key).
You've seen them, of course. You surf into a site and this little advertising window appears, then another, then another. You frantically start closing windows and guess what, this causes even more to pop up. I've seen sites which popped up windows so fast that I had to shut my machine down to stop them!
I know it seems like a good idea. Throw up a popup advertisement or two to attract your visitor's attention. You want them to sign up for your newsletter or purchase something. I know it is frustrating that people who come to your site don't seem to buy anything ... so what have you got to loose, right?
What you've got to loose is return visits. People also will not go any deeper into your site. In fact, they will hit that handy back key almost immediately. And, of course, they will just close the popup windows.
Why are they bad? Popup advertisements interrupt the surfing experience. Look at it from a surfers point of view. He's come to your site for some reason, perhaps to look at your product or read about your cat. Suddenly, an ad fly's up in front of his face. Then another and another. The poor guy has to stop his surfing to close the annoying windows. If other windows pop up as he does so, he has to close those also. By now he's either totally forgot why he decided to visit your site, or he's so angry he doesn't care. In any event, the back key is what comes next.
God help you if a visitor hits the back key and it does not do what they expect. I will tell you this as an experience surfer and webmaster - LEAVE MY BROWSER CONTROLS ALONE. DO NOT CHANGE ANY BUTTON, ANY KEY, THE SCREEN SIZE, THE VIEW OR ANYTHING ELSE. LEAVE IT ALONE.
If your free host offers the ability to change the popup window containing their advertisement into an inline banner, then by all means take advantage of that. Your visitors are more likely to stay on your site and see what you've got to offer.
I know some of you are real clever and think to yourself, "well, if I shouldn't use popup advertisements when they enter my site, I'll use them when the leave!". Don't do it.
Why not? Because your visitor is leaving your site. It's kind of like the conversation is over, the guy has turned to leave and is walking off, and you scream out an ad to him across the floor. Pretty tacky.
In my humble opinion, popup advertisements are the equivalent of shoving an ad under a persons nose and screaming "look at this stupid". They are worse than annoying and should never, ever be used.
Richard Lowe Jr. is the Webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at http://www.internet-tips.net