Professional Community for Automotive Marketers, Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
Back in 2007, I first started really using Craigslist for car dealer clients. It had some pretty powerful uses that had nothing to do with selling cars from the site itself. I used it for SEO and it was wonderful.
Links from Craigslist were pretty strong. I would hand-craft listings with unique content for two reasons: it gave the nice inbound link that was quickly indexed by the search engines and it had the ability to rank well individually on the search engines. It was a nice double-dip because it possessed something that no major 3rd-party sites do today: very few dealers used it so there was really no competition.
Things have changed over the years and the two things I loved about it are now gone. There are no inbound links that can be generated from Craigslist and the listings don't rank in search. One might think that this would turn me off to the idea of using Craigslist. On the contrary, it gave me new reasons to love it, but we'll get to those in a moment.
Something else changed. They started charging! The free classifieds that helped so many dealers and vendors spam the space had the door slammed on it when they initiated the $5 charge per listing. Again, this would seem to be a reason for me to want to abandon the site for clients. Again, it gave a new reason to love the site even more.
Here's the situation today:
Now, let's get to the point. Third-party vendors, particularly those who have listings that somehow charge dealerships (either by charging to list or selling leads directly to dealers or to other third parties), have become uncomfortable friends at best and enemies at worst. Many of these sites actually outrank dealers in organic search and outspend dealers for paid search.
Once a consumer gets to the site, they can then get bombarded with advertising designed to pull people away from your inventory. As a car guy, this strange relationship that they've established where they fight dealers for the rankings so they can then sell leads back to dealers makes me angry.
Craigslist is safe. Listings on their site won't outrank your site. They're the only major that pulls everything that they deliver in value through their own internal traffic. They don't try to outbid you in PPC and they don't drive your listings down in organic search.
Having the right strategy applied through companies like LotVantage is imperative for dealers wanting to expand their reach without shooting themselves in the foot. It's the safest bet on the web outside of your own website. Strongly recommended (and no, we don't sell a Craigslist product).