For those of you who use Craigslist to post listings for your rentals, houses for sale, and more – your ability to make your listing stand out may be changing quite dramatically.
At least in certain markets, (Florida, Texas, Washington, and Others) it appears that Craigslist has discontinued it’s use of certain HTML tags within listings that allow users to customize their posts using third party web applications, like Postlets or vFlyer.
In addition, it would appear that links to outside websites may also no longer work.
In the past, these third party companies allowed you to upload all the property information directly on their web application, and a long code was generated that you simply “Copied and Pasted” into your Craigslist ad. This code includes numerous “tags” which direct Craigslist to show certain items, like logos, photos, tables, and more.
However, with the subtle change, all “enhanced ads” have been denied by Craigslist – making each and every ad look similar. Take a look at the photo below to see an example of what posts “used” to look like – and what they look like now:
How Companies Used HTML with Craigslist
There were two primary ways that these third party companies used html to create enhanced craigslist listings
- Html with tables, fonts, and multiple images (Postlet’s Model)
- One giant photo used for the listing, that is hosted on their servers. (vFlyer’s method)
Both models accomplished the same purpose – to make your Craigslist posting stand out above the hundreds of other listings by including larger photos, a more visually appealing look and flow, and the ability to showcase your company’s brand and logo.
However, it appears that at least in many areas both these methods have been given the ax by Craigslist, even retroactively for older listings.
How to Check if You Were Affected
If you are a real estate investor or real estate agent who previously used a third party program like vFlyer or Postlets to create flyers, check out your local Craigslist listings to see if your listings are affected. Your area may not be affected yet, but it appears most places are, or soon will be.
To check, simply go to Craigslist and attempt to add a new housing listing. On the page that you’ll enter in all the details about the property, look for a yellow tag right below the title that states “IMG, FONT, TABLE, DIV, and SPAN tags are no longer supported in this category.” See the photo below:
What This Means to You
The largest problems I see for investors or agents is:
- You are now limited to the 12 low-quality photos that Craiglist gives you
- There is now no way to have your logo included on the HTML. You can simply write your company name.
- Your listing is now going to look like everyone else’s. Boring and white.
So what does this mean for you and your real estate business? As I see it, three thoughts come to mind:
1.) Postlets can still send your listings to Zillow – which, as I’ve discovered recently, can be a terrific lead generating source. Postlets also syndicates to backpage, ByOwnerMLS2, Enormo, FrontDoor, HotPads, Local.com, Lycos, Oodle, Trulia, Vast, and Yahoo! Real Estate. So I still recommend creating a Postlets listing.
2.) It’s more important than ever to make sure your Craigslist ad still stands out. Now that all the ads will look the same – how can you make yours stand out? First, use the highest quality photos you can. Second, break up your listing into short paragraphs, using headers, bullets, numbering, bolded text, and italics to make your ad easier to look at and consume. No one wants to simply see a wall of text. See the “After” photo above for a recent posting I placed on Craigslist. Also – to see what HTML you can use on Craigslist (although they have not yet updated this page since the change) click here.
3.) Make Your Brand Stand Out. Your Brand and Logo are no longer going to be able to be shown, at least in photo form. Instead, be sure to use your company name often and bold it whenever possible. To make your text bold, simply surround it with the <b> (text here) </b> tags.
4.) Host your own listings. If you don’t have your own website, I highly recommend creating one for your listings. Although you can’t included a click-able link to your website, people can still type in your website name and visit your site. This way, you can include more photos of the property, videos, or other cool features. If you don’t have a website yet – don’t worry, create your own website in under an hour, even if you have no technical skills and simply point people from the Craigslist ad to your own website.
The largest frustration with the change comes from a lack of communication from Craigslist. Since the change, Craigslist has offered no explanation or details on what they did, how many people it has affected, or what there plans are for the future. There is speculation that this change may be a lead up to additional monetizing strategies from Craigslist, though no proof has been received on that note.
What do you think? Have you noticed the change? Do you see it affecting your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo: Mohammed Alnaser