Tips and Tricks for the Innocent, the Eager and the DoomedProps
There is a lot of confusion about the use of various sorts of links in craigslist ads. Some things are obvious, others are fine points. But if you want to avoid having your ad flagged off then you want to avoid getting any flags. Every flag counts and when you get enough, your ad is removed. Using links in your ad can draw flags, so they must be used with care.
Different kinds of links:
Links in Services. If you are posting in the Services area you can pretty much do what you want with links. But there are still pitfalls. If you are a purely web operation and you post a link to your site you may draw flags---not because of the link but because your post has no local relevance. There are other fine points as well. Read the rest of this document.
Links to pictures. If you host pictures on some site (perhaps ImageShack or similar) and put a link to the image in your ad then technically you are linking to a commercial web site and in violation of the TOU. However in the craigslist help sections there are directions on how to do exactly this! In addition, ads with externally hosted pictures get a small "img" callout next to the ad headline. So craigslist is actually supporting linking to externally hosted pictures. Those externally hosted pictures relieve the load on craigslist servers and infrastructure. As far as the readers go, a pic is a pic no matter where it is hosted. Most don't know the difference. But there are ways to go wrong with it.
Pictures that are too big make for a very slow loading and annoying ad. When you upload to craigslist large pictures either won't upload or get resized, so you are safe. When you host yourself on some site you can really blow it. Remember your buyer may have a slow connection or be viewing on a phone or PDA. You don't want to annoy anybody, especially the person looking for what you have. Make your pictures about the same size as the ones uploading to craigslist, 75kB max works well. See this for information on making great pictures for your craigslist ad (document pending).
Too many pictures. Same story as above. Makes for a huge slow loading ad. Stick with 4, tops.
Naked picture links. No, no, no. You want the pictures right in the ad. Read the craigslist help section to see how to do it. Don't splatter a list of links that send people off to some other site to see the pictures, it's annoying.
Links to your commercial web site. Um...that's what the TOU was taking about. If you are posting in Services, maybe. Anywhere else and you are asking for trouble. No all the time, not on every site, but there are a lot of objections out there to commercial posters in the private party areas. The link to your site just hammers home how commercial you are.
Links to your non-commercial web site. Suppose you are having an online garage sale. You do the right thing and post in General (or maybe another category if everything in the sale fits the category). You have a lot of stuff so you make a web page with plenty of pictures and descriptions and prices (never omit the prices) and then put a link to the page in your ad. Problem is, this can make you look too commercial, even if you aren't commercial at all. With a lot of stuff, the ad is going to run awhile and that doesn't help. it might not draw enough flags to sink you, but it will draw some and you don't need any. Better to describe the stuff in the ad (with prices) and send the link to the site to interested parties by email. The link itself isn't the big issue, it's how you look overall that is.
Hrefs. So you figure you are pretty hot with HTML and Href your links. Click Here or See This looks slick in the ad, right? Actually it is exactly the sort of move the spammers and scammers use, constantly. People are very suspicious off them. Nothing could make you look worse. This one can draw enough flags to sink an ad all by itself.
Reference links. Putting in a link to the item you are selling as shown on Amazon or someplace might seem like a good idea. But it isn't necessary. if you describe your item well, people can and will do their own homework. Sometimes readers get suspicious that you are trying to direct them to a site where the item has avery high price, often eBay (making your price look better). Other times you just look lazy. If there is good information on a fairly obscure site you might mention the site, but it isn't necessary to link to it. Perhaps you might say something like, "Lots of good information on these machines on www.oldwoodwworrkingmachines.com." or something like that. Once again, people get anxious about what is going to happen when they click on some link. They don't feel anxious about typing something into Google.
Links to your eBay sale. This one is prohibited in the craigslist TOU and on eBay. And craigslist users often loathe eBay. Dead move. Will draw some flags.
Links to your other craigslist ads. Maybe you put in a special searcher keyword then ran a search on it and put a link to the search in all the ads. Very iffy. You can look too commercial or even like a board hog with this one. Skip the leveraging. The secret searcher keyword can be handy, especially for barter deals, but discuss it in private via email, not in the ad itself.
As a rule the most effective classified advertising will have you looking like somebody just cleaning out the garage and that knows nuthin' about nuthin'---especially what things are worth. People are very wary of anyone who comes across as too slick.
Use your browsers Back button to return whence you came.
This document or any part of this document may be linked as desired. If anyone wishes to link to a portion of the document that does not contain a convenient link please contact the authors, links can and will be added.