You probably do this already – complete regular searches in Google for your key phrases and see how high you rank. It’s well known that the first three results are far and away the sites that get the most clicks. If you can get one of the top three results in your key terms then you will have more targeted visitors coming to your site. If you can get the first result, well that is even better. Of course all your competitors want to do the same.
One of the great things about Google is that is updates quite frequently. That little GoogleBot is busy 24/7 indexing the web to make sure everyone gets the best answers to their search questions. I’ve recently been playing with a technique that I thought might be worth testing and because Google has updated so quickly I’ve been able to get a result within a few weeks, and I got the perfect result – a number one ranking for one of the key phrases I was after. In fact this technique worked so well that I got the number one result for a related search phrase too!
The technique I used was to place an ad in a particularly highly ranked classified site. In this case it was the famous site Craigslist. This site is the original free classifieds trading community that has become a world wide phenomenon driven by word of mouth. But that’s not important. What is important is that Craigslist is very popular and has a high PageRank, and most importantly you can place a free ad on the site anytime you want to. There are restrictions and limitations but it is easy to do, there is no reason you shouldn’t make an ad or two. It’s free promotion for your business that may happen to also help with your placement in Google SERPs.
Key Term: SERP – Short for Search Engine Results Page, the Web page that a search engine returns with the results of its search. The major search engines typically display three kinds of listings on their SERPs. Listings that have been indexed by the search engine’s spider, listings that have been indexed into the search engine’s directory by a human, and listings that are paid to be listed by the search engine.
For testing I was after the search phrase “Thesis Proofreader” for my business site’s thesis proofreading service. I entered the term into Google and noticed that a Craigslist entry was receiving a high result, but the subject and keywords were not highly targeted. However they were good enough to get a third page result in Google for that term. I went in and created a very simple ad in Craigslist that directly targeted my keywords and a week or two later I had the number one result for that term in the Google global SERP. Also because I had used the term “Essay” in the subject of the ad I managed to secure the first page result for “Essay Proofreader” as well. Not bad hey.
I was surprised that it worked as well as it did but I know better than to expect that good a result every time. One important consideration in my test is that there just isn’t much competition for my search phrase; hence it was easy to get the top result. If your market is more competitive your result likely won’t be as good. Craigslist deletes ads in 45 days so it’s not a permanent result either, you will need to keep going back to recreate your ad if you want to keep the result.
You should be sure to check the current results in Google to see if any free listing sites like Craigslist are pulling up high results for your terms. If you have some advertising cash to spend, see if any pay-for-entry directories or classifieds are pulling high results too. If there are then there is a good chance that if you create a well targeted ad you will have positive results.
It’s important to do search research first so you know which city listings in Craigslist are pulling the high results. Ideally for an online business that can service the world you would have a Craigslist listing for every city, but that just may not be feasible and may break the Craigslist rules anyway. With search research you determine which city is pulling the best results for your terms, which could be caused by a whole number of reasons – backlinks to that particular Craigslist city, key terms – the amount of variables to consider are beyond human comprehension, let Google handle that and just take the results on face value.
Take the time to locate the best city based on current search results and place your entry in that city at the very least. If your business is specifically targeted at a geographical area then it is a good idea to do a comprehensive ad in your Craigslist city (if available) as well, it certainly won’t hurt.
It’s also important to note that there is nothing stopping competitors doing the same thing as you. The SEO war may spread into Craigslist and muddy the site, which would no doubt prompt a clampdown on commercial listings in Craigslist. Perhaps this technique is best for those operating in small or unique industries since it is unlikely that competitive action will ruin it for everyone.
Also note that Google itself is a completely uncontrollable variable in this equation. Google may decide that it will no longer count Craigslist entries. Maybe it will decide to only index for certain terms. Just accept that you can’t control what Google decides to do, but you can test to see what results you can get. Not trying guarantees no results.
There is no good reason to not use this technique. Classified sites want listings, it’s what they do. You may or may not achieve better search engine results but at the least there is a chance that a browser may stumble across your ad and come shopping at your business. It takes very little time and usually is free so get out there and start creating those free ads. Just remember to use the right keywords and don’t go overboard, you don’t want all your incoming links to come from free directories because in the long run Google may penalise your results.
Note: The links in the article to Google search results were current for the date that this article was published. There is a very good chance that the Google search links no longer validate the test completed for this article because Craigslist only allows ads to stay online for 45 days and Google constantly refreshes search results. Regardless it is still a very good practice to advertise your business in free online classified sites – it’s free advertising, so well, duh! – Just pick the reputable and popular authority sites and get busy creating ads.