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Navigating the New Rules of Craigslist

November 25 2013

This post comes to us from the Market Leader blogMarket Leader blog:

Thanks to recent changes made by the Craigslist staff, it is no longer possible for real estate agents to post "enhanced listings" there. This is big news for the real estate industry, as Craigslist's enhanced listings were a popular and effective way for real estate agents to generate leads. Craigslist made these adjustments in an attempt to control spam (or, at the very least, limit the effectiveness of spammy listings) but, for real estate agents, they may be doing more harm than good.

Craigslist Real Estate Listings Changes

The adjustments made to Craigslist ads seem relatively small but have significant ramifications for the real estate industry. The changes, simply put, are that Craigslist no longer allows certain HTML tags (IMG, FONT, TABLE, DIV, and SPAN) to be used in their ads. The HTML tags for live links are also no longer supported.

Here are the two biggest changes as far as Realtors® are concerned:

Embedded Images Have Been Removed

Using the HTML tag no longer works. All images in Craigslist ads must be uploaded via its image posting tool. A maximum of 12 images can be uploaded in this way.

Here's what photos will now look like in Craigslist ads:

ml navigating craigslist 1

Live Links Have Been Removed

The days of directing traffic from Craigslist to your site by prompting consumers to click links in your ads are over. Now, consumers must copy and paste URLs from your ad into the address bar of their Internet browsers. Clicking the URL in your ads will do nothing.

Here's an example of how real estate agents will now need to post links in Craigslist:

ml navigating craigslist 2

Implications of the Craigslist Changes

Ad Uniformity

The color and flair found in enhanced ads are gone. In all new real estate listings, text is black and backgrounds are white. The absence of HTML also means that tables, special fonts and colors can no longer be used.

What does this forced uniformity mean for agents? You will need to be more creative to get consumers to read your listings! Bold and italicize text, break large paragraphs into smaller ones, and use lists (bulleted and numbered) wherever appropriate. It may be wise to keep total text to a minimum, only using what you need to entice consumers to visit your site for more information.

Restricted Number of Images

It's no longer possible to have massive slideshows in your Craigslist ads with many high-quality photos. The implication of this change is pretty simple: Only use images that show your listings at their best! The need to use listing photos to attract and retain interest is even greater than before. If you don't currently use a professional real estate photographer, consider doing so.

Your ability to impress consumers with listing photos has been reduced – make your remaining opportunities count.

More Difficult to Generate Traffic to Site

Instead of simply being able to click on links in Craigslist ads and immediately be taken to the linked page, consumers must now copy and paste URLs into the address bars of their browsers. This seemingly small change makes the process of generating traffic to your personal website considerably more labor-intensive (although still totally doable).

How should you adjust to this change? Here are some tips:

  • Limit the number of URLs you include in your ad.
  • Clearly mark the URLs in your ads (don't bury them in the middle of a paragraph).
  • Communicate WHERE the URLs will take consumers and what they will be able to do there.
  • Communicate WHY consumers want to take the time to visit the pages you are linking to.

No More Logos

It's now impossible to embed your company's logo into the body of a listing. This means that you will need to find other, text-based ways to brand yourself and differentiate the services you provide.

Is Craigslist Still a Viable Source for Leads?

Rest assured: Craigslist is still a rich source of real estate leads.

The adjustments made to Craigslist ads have done nothing to impact consumers' perception of and willingness to use the site. You can bet that homebuyers will still flock to Craigslist in droves, regardless of what the listings look like and whether or not they have live links.

Here's another important point to remember about the new Craigslist: Real estate listings on Craigslist are still free! Even if listings on Craigslist become 50 percent less effective, they are still an incredible bargain for any lead-hungry agent.

Need additional help with the new Craigslist real estate listings?