Craigslist Removes HTML Links – Bad 4 Small Business

image-craigslist-changes-hurt-small-businessCraigslist Change Hurts Small Business & Marketers

For years, Craigslist advertising has served as a fantastically free site for Internet Marketers who post advertisements on behalf of small business clients that we represent. Too good to be true, right? Good things rarely last.

Recently, Craigslist implemented universal changes which completely remove the ability to post professional-looking html-generated image ads that live link to a website. So, gone is a way to post beautifully designed flyer templates, rich in graphic content with hyperlinks. They no longer work on Craigslist!

image-error-craigslist-removes-htmlSurprise. Gotcha! Empty Craigslist Ad

Those of us who frequently post on Craigslist were NEVER notified of the policy change via an email or mass media campaign. Nope. Nada. Not.

Instead, we found out by surprise. The roll out appeared gradual nationwide. But here in Omaha, Marketers logging into their accounts to renew previously posted image ads uploaded last year were met with empty content in 2014, or an error “0” when trying to re-publish the HTML-coded ad. Yes, the headers were there, but the image content was gone. What the heck!?

“I was confused at first. Some of my client’s professionally designed graphic ads were empty. I thought it was an error. Was it frustrating? Yes! A lot of work down the drain. It was not until I Googled “Craigslist HTML Changes” that I became aware of Craigslist’s new policy which bars HTML code ads.

Interestingly, the only articles about Craigslist’s new policy focused on the impact to realtors. The bigger news story uncovered by us is how the Craigslist’s changes hurt small business on limited budgets, including the advertisers and internet marketers who represent them:

“Cheap ads HAD generated great leads and the hyperlinks WERE great for SEO. Now, the newly mandated plain text ads look boring and amateurish and there’s zero SEO advantage to small business who must compete with the big budget corporations for a piece of the pie,” notes Susan Stern, an internet marketing Omaha consultant.

Why Did Craigslist Change Ad Policy?

It can be assumed that Craigslist wants to even the playing field. Many people don’t have the economic resources or knowledge to create custom HTML code to post professionally looking Craigslist ads. Internet marketers who write custom code have an advantage over small sellers. So what, we say!

By removing the image tags from posts, Craigslist appears to be standardizing ads so no company has an upper hand over another. “This is a ridiculous policy change especially for small business on a limited budget. Plus, all the ads now look the same. There is little way to stand out from the rest. In actuality, Craigslist is hurting small business from Maine to California,” notes Stern. Do you like the change? Take Poll NOW!

What Can You Post On Craigslist NOW?

Instead of being able to create eye-popping HTML-generated ads, internet marketers are now FORCED to write plain text advertising just like the layman would. Sure, you can still upload photos and images, but you can NOT link them to any live website. You have to type in plain text, period. If you want to display a URL, it does NOT work. Craig’s list removed outbound links, completely.

Officially, Craigslist’s new policy:

Please note IMG, FONT, TABLE, DIV, and SPAN tags are no longer supported… Please use CL image upload for images.

Craigslist HTML Policy Bad for SEO

The no-custom-HTML-code-policy means you may no longer use clickable Image Ads to drive traffic to your website, reducing the options for external link building and SEO (Search Engine Optimization: the process of building and maintaining a website’s Google rank).

Recover From Craigslist Ad Removals

“Change is never easy. But after the initial shock, internet marketers must accept the Craigslist changes.  Sure there is a mourning period for those who have successfully used Craigslist to generate new business for years. Someone could start a petition, but let’s be real. Generally, internet signature gathering does NOT trigger change. Still, if enough people complain by blogging online, there is a slight chance Craigslist may listen.”

The best advice now is for internet marketers to stop focusing on what’s lost, and start thinking positive. Chin up. Search for new opportunities to generate new business. We should let the Craigslist policy change serve as a warning. Look at the big picture. Google could change its algorithms at any time. Where would your business be then?

“Marketers should encourage their small and medium-size businesses to think outside the box and use a marketing mix. It’s smart to diversify resources to find different ways to generate new business leads online as well as the old-fashioned way, like fostering relationships in person,” emphasizes Susan Stern, an Internet Marketing Omaha company owner.

Still, we here at Stern PR Marketing™ are not happy with Craigslist killing off the ability to post enhanced ads. It’s bad for small business on a budget. We hope they re-think their policy.

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Article originally published February 21, 2014.

11 thoughts on “Craigslist Removes HTML Links – Bad 4 Small Business

  1. I am a small wedding and portrait photographer (just starting my 3rd year).

    I usually post my ads on CL in the ‘Event’ and ‘Creative’ services category, with some of my photos embedded.

    Ever since CL took away the ability to embed my photos, I have not had any inquiries for my services!

    CL’s own photo application(?) is horrendous! It makes photos look like they were taken with plastic lenses!

    So as a photographer, not being able to present my photos in a decent manner, is really damaging. The chances of people (potential clients) copy pasting links is very slim on a PC, and on mobile devices, it is simply not going to happen.

    Why does CL even need to exist anymore, when it just made life more difficult for the small businesses?
    CL: Where gross people hook up with other gross people. Anyone else trying to do something productive, look elsewhere.

    But they will get away with doing something so devastating. Because people like me will still have to post on CL, as we can’t afford the expensive ads, and hate ourselves for it everyday! Or at least I will.

    Very disappointed.

  2. I am the owner of a very small graphic design company and used Craigslist for 90% of lead generation. I felt the need to audition other marketing options when I noticed the huge flagging problems that started to occur last year. So far, Backpage has been a mediocre substitute, but since it’s traffic pales in comparison to CL’s, I still used Craigslist as a secondary marketing resource for bringing in new business.

    It’s my opinion that CL will ultimately screw themselves out of traffic and possible business opportunities with these outrageous limitations. Meanwhile, more flexible sites like Backpage will benefit greatly.

  3. We are Omaha graphic designers and agree with your statement. Unlike Backpage, Craig’s list is a household name. So, unless Backpage boosts their advertising to a significant degree, not many would-be clients will find their site. We hope Craigslist reverts back to the old way of doing business – allowing us to embed graphics in ads with live link capability.

  4. I own two in-home certified daycare programs and this change has affected me as well. Being able to design my own ads using photo links to my website made my ads stand out. Evening the playing field is a poor argument from Craigslist if that is what they’re trying to do. They’ve definitely hurt small businesses who don’t have the marketing budget of the large corporations. I took the time to learn HTML so that I could create my own website and post nice ads on Craigslist. Any small business or individual can do that and should be rewarded for doing so, not banned from one of the few affordable options we have to generate revenue.

  5. Well you guys sound very selfish. Sure it has hurt your business in some way, but have you considered those who never get any business because people like you happen to have a little more money or expertise?
    What is wrong with evening out the playing field on a FREE SITE. It is free, and that’s what you can expect from a free site, so though you can complain, you ultimately cannot change the decision and that is a good thing.

    If anything, I applaud Craigslist for taking this stand and remembering the little people that started with Craigslist in the first place- those who didn’t have any money at all. Craigslist over the years has been taken over by every business out there who are so greedy they want to grab market share everywhere.
    Sure it’s Capitalism and it is alive and well and that is good, so for those of you who can afford it; pay to have your ads somewhere else, so those who can’t afford can still survive.
    I remember being surprised to see the proliferation of the ads and it looked different from what it started as. Sure growth and change can be good, but not all the time.

    Hurray for Craigslist. I wish more companies were like you out there who have stemmed the flow of the takeovers

  6. We are griping about the Craig’s List changes because it hurts small business that does not have the big budgets like big business who may advertise just about anywhere. Many small business owners are on a very, very limited budget. We appreciate your opinion though, even though we disagree.

  7. Yeah, Craigslist doesn’t have their customers best interests in mind. The majority of the public doesn’t know what they are thinking nor who is running the company and what they are thinking.
    They constantly avoid the public, have ZERO customer service and could care less about catching up to the modern world.
    Its sad. They are a sad group of individuals.

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