You may or may not remember back in the days of pre 2006 when search results yielded results from Craigslist.org. It was common to type in “for sale” and find list after list of Craigslist pages containing that phrase.
It was also around this time that several “companies” or “consultants” suggested to populate Craigslist with specially crafted “ads” to increase your links and potential to rank high. A whole new wing of spamming was born. Multi-posting scripts were written, false advertising was placed, affiliate links were blasted and people made money … or at least that’s what they claimed.
In 2006, Google did a large delisting of Craigslist pages making them not appear in search results. Some claimed that this delisting blocked robots and other crawlers from Craigslist. Well, not really. The site is still being indexed, just not as aggressively as before. Using Google to search within Craigslist is actually quite powerful. For instance, if I’m looking for “Magic The Gathering” cards for nostalgia sake, I can type in “site: craigslist.org Magic the Gathering” and I can see all the latest crawled ads within the site. I can even specify my own city using “site: lexington.craigslist.org” instead. The site is still being indexed.
The news of the delisting three years ago still hasn’t totally trickled down to everyone. You will find SEO people recommending Craigslist as a way to build links or still several people inside Craigslist trying to drum up business like nothing ever happened. The idea was to post your links in every single city of Craigslist in as many categories as possible. The result was to have Google say “wow, what a lot of links coming from the important site ‘Craigslist!’ I better boost its ranking. Durr.” Truthfully, Google saw what was going down and got its backhand ready for some slapping. Craigslist enforced its posting procedures and what is left is the occasional “job listing” or “lonely girl” or “gig.” (I’m using my Chris Farley quote fingers for those phrases.)
So how do you use Craigslist for SEO?
Well, you are out of luck if you are looking for your “specially crafted” Craigslist page to offer you any real SEO support. It’s just not there. Craigslist can offer you a seperate avenue for advertising if you are willing to keep up with the age of your posts.
What do I do if someone is offering Craigslist SEO?
Ask for examples. Just as with any SEO company, ask what a site and its rankings were like before they started messing with it.
Is this really an issue?
It depends on how good a deal you think you are getting. Last Friday, my client’s CEO approached me saying “We heard a rumor that a competitor is trying something with one of our products on Craigslist, see if you can find out what’s going on.” I was kind of surprised that someone would try to sell multi-thousand dollar, whole house generators through an online service, so I went to go see.
Sure enough, a company in Colorado used a multi-posting tool to list his services to every single city on Craigslist. What’s worse is that the company didn’t even have a website. Over all, his massive blast got him on the second page of Google, not the first, and he risks being in trouble with Craigslist and the provider of the equipment if “competing outside your service area” is prohibited. If he paid a black hat to do the blast, he should have saved his money for a website.
So, here are some real tips for Craigslist SEO:
- Use it for specials and announcements.
- Post only in categories that relate to your announcement.
- Post in cities that you service, deliver or reside in.
- Use your keywords, but not in place of a well written ad. If you look like spam, you will be treated as spam.
- Do not violate, break, test or tempt the Terms of Services. If we all play nice, we all can have a fun time.