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Is Craigslist the Last 3rd Party Safe Haven for Dealer Inventory?

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:

  • No links means that the listings are safe and cannot contribute to hurting a dealer through the Penguin update of 2012.
  • They don't rank on search anymore. This is the point of the article, which we'll get to shortly.
  • The cost to post means that dealers and vendors must focus on quality over quantity. It has also thinned the herd and made each individual listing much more powerful than before. Charging $5 per listing actually improved the listings and the site itself dramatically by reducing spam and increasing the exposure that each individual listing receives on the site.

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).

Views: 548

Tags: Craigslist

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Comment by Alexander Lau on July 9, 2015 at 7:47am

No worries Carl! We'll do business again.

Comment by Tim J. Pyle on July 6, 2015 at 3:04pm

Nicely written JD...


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Comment by Carl Maeda on July 6, 2015 at 2:35pm

Thanks for the shout out Alex!

Comment by Michael on July 6, 2015 at 11:19am

Yes, and JD initially writes, the content narrative is still the most competitive edge with this huge mainstream private and independent marketplace at 68% in sales combined. Next, providing excellent attentiveness to information and Great phone skills are essential to the appointment set.

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 6, 2015 at 7:14am

Local search is becoming increasingly important to successful online vehicle marketing, generating local-based traffic to your dealer website. For most successful dealers, Craigslist is the second largest source of referring used car traffic to a dealer websites (besides Google).

With over 700 local markets covered, it is important to maintain best practices while targeting your local market. The number of posts in the dealer section has declined far more than the number of people using sites like Craigslist, so each ad put up is much more valuable than before.

Don't forget eBay Motors and eBay Classifieds. It's worth the spend.

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 6, 2015 at 7:07am

I like to call this Inventory Syndication.

My saying, "the more affordable hooks you have in the water; the better." I've used LotVantage as a SaaS option (nicely executed), as well as AutoFusion at http://www.autofusion.com/car-dealer-craigslist.html, as for Carl Maeda.

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