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    Google Honors ReachLocal With Premier SMB Partner Award for "Best Quality Accounts"

    Last updated 6 months ago

    We are proud to announce that ReachLocal has been named the winner of Google’s 2013 North America Premier SMB Partner Award for “Best Quality Accounts.” We were selected as the winner in this category for having the highest average Google AdWords Quality Score during the judging period.

    The Google Premier SMB partner program helps local businesses connect with online advertising partners like ReachLocal that are trusted to successfully create, manage, and optimize their search advertising campaigns.

    Recognized as a Google Premier SMB Partner since 2011, ReachLocal continues to meet Google’s high standards of excellence in search engine advertising through Google AdWords. We continuously strive to deliver this expertise directly to our clients through:

    • Campaign experts with extensive Google product and account management training
    • Full-service campaign management and detailed reporting
    • One-on-one client service and online marketing guidance

    Together, this enables our clients to get the most out of their search engine advertising.

    We are extremely honored to not only be a part of the Google Premier SMB partner program but to also be recognized for the high quality of our accounts. Read the entire press release or learn more about what being a Google Premier SMB Partner means for our clients.  

    7-Day Social Media Makeover

    Last updated 6 months ago

    It’s 2014! Now that the new year is in full swing, it’s a great time to take a look at your company’s Web presence to make sure it’s up to date and refreshed. After all, when was the last time you checked your company’s Twitter profile, Facebook description, or list of services on LinkedIn? It’s important to make sure you have your best foot forward across the Web. Not sure where to start? We’ve put together a simple seven-day checklist you can use to makeover your social media presence and start the new year off right.

    Day 1: Audit Your Current Social Media Presence
    Where does your company have pages and profiles across the Web? Take stock of all your social media accounts and make sure your overall social media presence is polished, professional, and up to date. Here’s a checklist for getting ready and starting your audit:

    • Create an Audit Doc: If you don’t have one, create a document with a list of every social media account your company has claimed, including the user name, URL, and important information for each site. This will make your next social media audit a much quicker process!
    • Update Your Passwords! While you’re creating your initial audit document, log in to each account you own and update your passwords. Make sure that each site has a strong, secure, unique password. Since several notable sites have had user passwords compromised recently, it’s important to make sure your passwords are fresh and new. Make sure you have a different password for each account, and if multiple people need to access your passwords, search for a secure password manager. Here are some tips for creating better passwords.  
    • Create a Task List: As you go through each site, note on your audit document each of the following that need to be created, revised, or updated: descriptions, profile photos, cover photos, logos, videos, and product and service descriptions.
    • Double Check the Facts: It’s important to make sure that your basic business information, like your business phone number, brick-and-mortar address, Web addresses, and email addresses, are all updated and consistently listed across each site. Make sure that the way you spell, punctuate, and abbreviate each word is consistent on each site you use, because this information is important for making sure search engines attribute your business with proper citations.
    • Align Your Assets: If you will need creative help in updating your logo, profile image, or copy on your sites, make sure to put the right requests in to the right people so you will be armed with all the assets you need for the rest of your makeover! 

    Day 2: Google+ Local
    If you haven’t claimed your Google+ Local page, stop now, download this ebook, and do it today. If you have, it’s time to give it a refresh. Log in to Google+ and navigate to your page from the square profile image in the upper right-hand corner. Once you’ve selected your page, you can go to the individual elements you want to change.

    • Refresh Your Cover Image: To change this, hover over it and click “Change Cover” on the cover image. You can select from a gallery, upload your own photos, or pick images from your albums on Google+. The image can be up to 2120x1192 pixels, which takes up a significant portion of the screen for anyone who visits your page. So, make yours memorable, interesting, and relevant to your business.
    • Update the About Section: Select the “About” tab on your profile and navigate to the “Story” module, where you can update your page’s tagline or add an introduction. You can format these with bold, italics, and even hyperlinks to share more about your business, products, and services.  
    • Check Links: What types of links should you add? Consider adding links to relevant sites like your website, blog, and social media profiles. Make sure these are all working links with up-to-date content, since this profile is associated with Google and helps it know what other accounts are affiliated with your company.
    • Confirm Business Details & Contact Information: If you have a page that’s a local page, you’ll also want to update it to make sure all your details are optimized and current, because this content feeds into other Google properties like Google Maps. So check your phone number, address, email, and hours of operation to make sure they are up to date and consistent across your Web presence. 

    Day 3: Facebook

    • Update Your Cover Photo: Your cover image can be 851 x 315 pixels. It should be a unique image that represents your company and its current look, feel, and emphasis. Make sure you have rights to the image you use, and don’t infringe on any copyrights or trademarks. Also, keep in mind that your cover image can be made up of no more than 20% text, so focus on a bold and inviting image.
    • Update Your Profile Image/Logo: Your profile image is 160x160 pixels and should be recognizable to those who follow you on Facebook. While it’s displayed as an overlay in the corner of your cover image, it must be able to still stand alone in the newsfeed and should be clear and recognizable at 90x90 pixels, the size it will appear in the feed.
    • Arrange & Update Apps & Icons: You can customize which top “apps” you display on your page by default, so make sure the most relevant apps are showing at the top of your page (photos will always appear as your first app, but you can select the other three). These will appear next to the “About” section of your page. So, if you have outdated, old, or irrelevant apps showing, change it up! Also, you can select new “cover images” for many apps by selecting the down arrow and the edit pencil. The cover images for new apps should be 111x74 pixels.
    • Update Your Page Content: Under “Edit Page” you can change various pieces of content affiliated with your page, such as your subcategories, address, short description (this shows up under “About” on your public page and is short, so keep it pithy!), awards, products, and more. Make sure the most updated information and relevant business details are reflected under this Edit view.  
    • Update Settings: When was the last time you looked at the settings of your Facebook page? Under “Edit Page” you can select to see exactly how your page is operating and make sure you have it set up ideally for how you are running it today. For example, you can change the posting ability, private messaging settings, tagging ability, restrictions, and other page settings that affect how your page functions. You can also view other settings such as the apps you have installed on your page, who is set as an admin, and more. It’s a good idea to take a look at these every once in a while, so refine your settings when you do your Facebook makeover. 

    Day 4: Twitter
    To update your Twitter account, you need to click the gear icon and select “settings” to edit your profile. Once there, you can update a number of things under the following sections.


    • Update Your Logo or Profile Photo – This should ideally be a square photo that uses your photo or logo and is recognizable at a small size, like 90x90 pixels.
    • Update or Add a Cover Photo – Did you know Twitter also has a cover photo feature? The recommended size for this image is 1252x626 pixels, with a maximum file size of 5 MB.
    • Update Your Bio Section – You have 160 characters to say something interesting about yourself, so make sure your Twitter about section is up to date with your latest job title, interests, and facts.
    • Double Check Your Location – Make sure your location is up to date with the most relevant location for you. If you have multiple locations, consider making the location that of your main location or headquarters.
    • Confirm Your Website: You’ve only got one hyperlink you can share from your Twitter profile, so make it the most impactful location, whether it’s a website, page, article, or another social media page.


    • Refresh Your Background: You can create a custom background for your Twitter profile, and many companies choose to have a custom background that coordinates with their cover image and profile photo. In order to display well on most monitors, experts recommend using an image that’s 1600x1200 pixels and under 2 MB in size.
    • Coordinate Background & Link Colors: Make sure if you update your background that you use coordinating colors that display well together.


    • Make sure to go through a list of all the apps you have authorized to access your Twitter account and revoke access to any apps that you no longer use or that you don’t remember authorizing in order to keep your account secure. 

    Day 5: LinkedIn
    To update your LinkedIn company page, log in to your LinkedIn account, hover over your profile image in the upper right-hand bar and click “Manage” next to your company page. This will take you to a view with several editable tabs – “Home,” “Careers,” and “Services.” To edit what’s on these tabs, select the tab and then click the blue “Edit” button in the upper right-hand side, then navigate to the section you want to update on each page.

    Home Page

    • Page Details: Has your business grown or changed since you set up your LinkedIn profile? Here’s where you will make these changes. Make sure your company type, size, URL, industry, and locations are all up to date.
    • Company Description: Make sure you’ve got the latest description of your company, which can be up to 2,000 characters.
    • Image: This is essentially your LinkedIn cover image that displays prominently on your page. Make sure this cover image is fresh, relevant, and on-trend with your current marketing look and feel. This image needs to be 646x220 pixels and can be up to 2 MB in size.
    • Standard Logo: Your standard logo needs to fit the ratio of 100x60 pixels for LinkedIn.
    • Square Logo: This is a version of your logo that appears on some places in LinkedIn, like the feed. It should be 50x50 pixels or square, since it will be resized to fit that size.
    • Company Specialties: This is a place where you can list different products, services, and specialties your company focuses on. Make sure this is up to date by adding any new services or major product lines and removing those you no longer offer.

    Careers Page

    • Cover Image: This is a separate image at the top of your careers page. It should be a minimum of 970x240 pixels and can be cropped to fit the space. This image should invoke why potential employees would want to work with you and complement the look and feel of your overall branding.
    • Content – Description, Video, Slides, Images: You can customize what’s on this careers page to include a description, video, slides, images, and even a custom set of links.
    • Testimonials: You can even include quotes and testimonials from employees who work with you in this section, so make sure these feature current – and real! – employees who are glad to say why they love working for your company.

    Services Page

    • Products & Services: You can customize this page with product logos, images, descriptions, names, and even video modules. Make sure to spend some time configuring and updating this page to best showcase your products and services. 

    Day 6 – YouTube
    Go to “My Channel” under the dropdown menu, and then select the areas you want to edit. You can learn more about how to optimize your channel on this page called “Channel Optimization” from YouTube. The site estimates this process should take about an hour. Here are a few elements you’ll want to update:

    • Channel Art: You can add photos to your YouTube channel by uploading them or accessing photos already affiliated with your Google+ account. YouTube recommends a photo at 2560x1440 pixels to best display across all devices (desktop, TV, mobile, tablets) with a “safe” area within this image for text and logos of 1546x423 pixels centered within the image.
    • Channel Icon: You’ll want to make sure your icon is a high-resolution, square image that displays well at smaller sizes. 800x800pixels is what YouTube recommends.
    • Description: Under the “About,” section, update the description of your company, and optimize this description for search. The first few sentences of this description show up most prominently on the site, so make this an accurate description and include relevant keywords.
    • Links: You can include links to relevant sites such as your website and social pages.
    • Videos: Make sure that you have the latest, most relevant videos featured on your page. It’s also important to go through each video and make sure your titles are descriptive enough to get viewers to watch your video and contain important keywords they use to search for your videos. Check your descriptions as well to make sure they include critical keywords and even links to your website or product and service pages so they can learn more information. You can also update your videos by creating playlists and organizing them by type, product, or service, to make watching your content an easier, more enjoyable experience for visitors. 

    Day 7 – Pinterest
    If you aren’t already using Pinterest, now is a great time to consider it. The site is growing exponentially and is the second-highest driver of website traffic of all social media platforms, driving more website traffic than Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit combined. If you’re just setting up your account, check out these tips. If yours is just due for a refresh, log in, locate your profile icon in the upper right hand, hover, and select “Your Profile & Pins,” then, select the pencil under your description and select “Edit Profile.”

    • Account Type: If you joined Pinterest before it had the option for business pages, you can convert your account type to a business at This gives you more options than a personal account does, such as a business type, contact person, and business name, rather than a first name/last name of a personal account.
    • Profile Image: This should be your business logo and is a square image format at 211x211 pixels, which displays at various sizes across the site.
    • About: Make sure your about section is relevant, updated, and optimized for search. You have 200 characters to convey what your business is, what you share with Pinterest users, and why you’re a great brand to follow.
    • Location: Make sure you’ve got the most relevant location affiliated with your Pinterest account.  
    • Boards, Board Covers & Descriptions: In addition to making sure your Pinterest profile is updated, it’s a great idea to refresh your Pinterest boards. You can update the name of your boards to reflect a new branding or messaging theme. Give new life to your profile by selecting new cover images for each board and arranging them into a new order on your page. You can also update the description or category for each board by clicking “Edit.”
    • Add Maps: A new Pinterest feature is the ability to add maps to boards, called Place Pins.  This is a great way to participate in content about your location and help attract local Pinterest users to content you share on the site. 

    Who knew there were so many different aspects of your social media presence that could use a good update? Using this handy guide, you can refresh your social media presence to start off 2014 with a fresh start. Any other sites you’ll include in your social media refresh? Sound off in a comment.

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    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web as a blogger for ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

    Amy Neeley contributed to this article. Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Follow her on Twitter.

    Top Viral Videos of 2013 (And What You Can Learn from Them)

    Last updated 6 months ago

    This year, some truly memorable videos made it onto out list of the top viral videos of 2013. Chances are you’ve seen or heard of many of them already, so we wanted to round them up for your viewing (or re-viewing) pleasure and also share some tips and takeaways from each one that you can apply to your own video marketing process. Here’s a look at some of the top viral videos of the year and what you can learn from them:

    1) Kmart Ship My Pants

    “Ship my pants? You’re kidding?” So starts the funny viral Kmart ad appropriately titled “Ship My Pants.” With over 20 million views, this ad delivers punchy, funny, euphemistic one-liners all centered on the use of well-scripted humor in this vein. But it’s not all just for fun and giggles. The punch line has a purpose: “If you can’t find what you’re looking for in store, we’ll find it at right now, and ship it to you, for free,” the viral ad concludes. 

    The ad was so successful, Kmart released a series of euphemistic humor ads this year, including “Big Gas Savings,” promoting the store’s gas discount, and “Yo Mama,” which turned classic playground taunts on their head to promote the store’s layaway program. The takeaway from these viral ads?

    Humor Works – Well-scripted humor can really pack a punch, especially when it’s well-delivered and tailored to your audience. Particularly funny and entertaining ads can have a life of their own online as well.

    Pair Puns with Good Promotions – Not only did Kmart tackle humor admirably, they also paired each pun with a particular promotion that served as the punch line of each ad, helping the consumer not only have a nice chuckle, but also to remember the message of each promotion as well. 

    2) Dove Real Beauty Sketches

    In this online video, Dove had a forensic artist sketch drawings of women based on their descriptions of themselves, and then a separate sketch done by a stranger they had met that day. The sketches side by side demonstrate how the negative perceptions women had of themselves shined through in the original sketches. 

    “I should be more grateful of my natural beauty,” said one participant in the project. The video is a part of Dove’s ongoing Campaign for Real Beauty, which uses powerful, positive messages and images of women and has been a huge success for the brand. The video’s tagline “You are more beautiful than you think” captures the spirit of this video, whose positive, uplifting message helped catapult this ad to over 60 million views and counting. What can you take away from this viral video success?

    Humanize Your Customer – By using real women in their videos, their messages have resonated with millions of women. You can humanize your customer in your online videos by using real customers, telling stories, sharing case studies, and sharing authentic quotes or testimonials.

    Get Emotional – Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty isn’t afraid to use emotion to make a strong, powerful statement. Video can be a powerful medium for sharing stories, concepts, and ideas that stir strong emotions, so if it’s the right fit for your business, don’t shy away from appealing to emotion in your online videos. 

    3) The Camp Gyno

    “It’s a serious responsibility,” says the adorable star of one of this year’s with 6.5 million views, the video helped successfully launch a new brand called HelloFlo, a monthly subscription service for women. 

    When it launched, the video ad was sent by the company founder to women-focused sites and industry publications that ended up covering the ad’s unique angle. It was then passed along to millions of viewers via social media. So what can you learn from this video success story?

    Tell Great Stories – This video was such a success because it makes great use of storytelling, uses humor, and presents an often awkward, yet very normal, part of life in the form of a great story – that also happens to position the product as a perfect solution. Plus, the video was interesting enough for media sites to pick it up and comment on its approach, helping to boost its visibility.

    Target Your Customer – Another thing that makes this ad so spot-on is that it stars a girl experiencing a rite of passage, arguably unique in the market for this kind of product, and something that appeals both to parents of said girls as well as girls themselves. The takeaway here is to be knowledgeable about your target customer and find unique ways to target them in your online videos and ads. 

    4) What Does the Fox Say?

    Chances are you’ve heard the catchy tune “What Does the Fox Say,” which not only became a viral hit, but also has become a bit of a meme in and of itself. But what you might not know is that it was originally created as a promo for the creators’ new season of the Norwegian talk show “Tonight with Ylvis” and that it was “created to fail.” 

    The duo says they intended to create a video that flopped in order to have a funny sketch for their talk show.  The video did anything but flop. Instead, it has had over 273 million views, one of the breakout viral videos of the year.

    “Viral” Isn’t the Goal – You’ll often hear people say they are creating a “viral” video, but most experts will tell you that truly viral videos are difficult to engineer. Instead, you should aim to surprise and delight your viewers. Say the creators of this viral video: “We’re not chasing the next hit. We’re just making stuff that we think is funny.” Which is exactly what they are in business to do. 

    5) Harlem Shake

    In case you missed it (or have already forgotten), the beginning of this year kicked off with a new kind of video meme centered around the song Harlem Shake. In the meme videos, the song plays while participants dance to the song in funny costumes in a short clip, usually about 30 seconds. The original video that kicked the meme off was parodied countless times by everyone from companies like Facebook to celebrities Stephen Colbert to the Norwegian Army and various sports teams. The Miami Heat’s version of the meme video has received over 46 million views.

    Videos Can Be Memes Too – Memes have become a popular way for companies to participate in pop culture to engage and entertain fans online. The Harlem Shake was a popular video meme that many large and small companies participated in. But staying up to date on what’s happening in pop culture, you can create videos that appeal to memes and trends and add some easy entertainment to your video repertoire.

    Bonus: A ReachLocal Harlem Shake Video

    These are just a few of the top viral videos of 2013. What were your favorites? What are your takeaways? Share your thoughts in a comment! 

    Facebook News Feed Changes & What They Mean for Businesses

    Last updated 7 months ago

    Facebook has recently updated its News Feed ranking algorithm with the goal of showing users more relevant content in their News Feeds.  According to Facebook’s newsroom post, this change will mean you will see more content in your News Feed that others have read, liked, and commented on as well as “high quality” content published by authoritative websites. So, what are the specifics of all these changes, and what do they mean for your business?

    Facebook Changes News Feed Algorithm

    Since August, Facebook has changed its News Feed algorithm so it is now “bumping” stories to the top of the News Feed that have had an activity such as a comment posted to them. The explanation for this is to resurface content to users that they may not have seen the first time it was posted. Users on the desktop have already seen this feature roll out, but Facebook recently enabled it for mobile users. While this feature can be useful, the down side is that users may also see bumped stories in their feed that are no longer timely or relevant.

    In addition, the Facebook News Feed algorithm is highlighting articles that are related to other articles you or others in your network read, in order to help you find more content you might find interesting. Now, after you click on a link to an article, you may see up to three related articles in your News Feed. Facebook has recently updated its News Feed ranking algorithm with the goal of showing users more relevant content in their News Feeds.  According to Facebook’s newsroom post, this change will mean you will see more content in your News Feed that others have read, liked, and commented on as well as “high quality” content published by authoritative websites. So, what are the specifics of all these changes, and what do they mean for your business?

    Changes Impact Businesses on Facebook

    In the past few weeks, these changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm appear to be favoring content from publications while hampering the organic visibility of posts from brands and businesses who use Facebook to share content with their fans. Although the update is meant to highlight quality content and downplay meme-related content, especially for mobile users, publishers like as Buzzfeed and Upworthy have actually seen increases in their site traffic since the update, while brands and businesses have seen a huge decrease in traffic from their native posts on the site. A Facebook study conducted by social media marketing agency Ignite reported a 44% decline in reach, on average, from branded News Feed posts on Facebook. 

    The Takeaway?

    Businesses that use Facebook as a marketing tool may no longer be able to get by using only the “free” part of Facebook — News Feed posts — to promote their content. Instead, they need to start investing in creating engaging, relevant content much like publishers produce, promoted posts, and targeted Facebook ads to reach their audience, in light of these new changes.

    Here are a few tips for your Facebook strategy in this new News Feed environment: 

    1. Create Share-Worthy, Engaging News Feed Content

    These changes mean that highly-engaging, relevant content is more important than ever before. According to an article on Forbes, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm will focus on content that “keeps people coming back to Facebook to discover something new and then share it with their friends.” And, since News Feed bumping means users will start seeing content their connections have engaged with, it benefits your business to create content that compels people to like, comment, and share your posts. These changes emphasize an important content marketing reality: your posts are literally competing for attention with every other piece of content, news story, post, or picture on Facebook. If you think like a publisher and create content that truly compels your audience to action, these changes can actually help increase the visibility of your posts. 

    2. Publish Relevant, Timely, Credible Articles

    So, what kind of content does Facebook favor in the new News Feed ? According to Facebook for Business, the new algorithm favors content that is timely and relevant, and from a credible and trustworthy source. Since the new algorithm highlights or bumps content that is liked and shared, publishers of “viral” content, like the aforementioned Buzzfeed and Upworthy, have seen an uptick in traffic since the update. So, take a page from their marketing style and try creating content for Facebook that contains headlines that are timely, targeted, entertaining, or even controversial. It’s also important to build authority with your audience by sharing content that is useful and informative that your audience is likely to read and share. 

    3. Encourage Fan Engagement

    As a result of story bumping, it’s even more important than ever to ask fans to engage with the content you post on Facebook. So, in addition to creating content that is inherently engaging, but you should ask people to like or comment on your posts or share them with their friends. Types of content that can generate a lot of engagement are: questions, requests for user-generated content (such as photos, captions, or predictions), contests, local events, community involvement, and promotions. Posts that receive a great deal of engagement can then be bumped up in people’s News Feeds, giving users another chance to see and take action on your content, helping boost the organic reach of your posts. Another tip for helping boost your engagement is to review your Facebook insights to see which types of content are driving the most engagement, so you can create more like them. 

    4. Boost Your Posts to Pay for Visibility

    Also known as promoted posts, boosted posts are essentially News Feed updates that you can pay to enhance their visibly in the News Feed, so more people are likely to see them and engage. While you can boost anything from a basic update to a photo or video, a good rule of thumb is to boost a post that already has a high amount of organic views and engagement or a post that generates a meaningful result, like traffic to your site through links. For instance, you could boost a post that will receive a lot of likes and shares, such as an offer, or one that will drive comments and fan engagement, like a contest or a special event. You can boost a post for as little as $5, and the amount you spend will determine the approximate number of impressions your post will receive.

    It’s also important to know that you can boost your content through the “Create an ad” link under your settings tool, which gives you more options and targeting capabilities than a generic boosted post. Simply select “page post engagement” as your ad type, select the page and post you want to promote, and follow the prompts from there!

    5. Reach More Readers Through Facebook Ads

    Chances are, your organic reach through News Feed posts has already taken a hit, as many reports are indicating. That’s why it’s important to include advertising on Facebook to enhance your reach on the site. Here are some types of advertising you can take advantage of on Facebook:

    • Facebook Ads: Display on Facebook is probably what most people think of when it comes to advertising on the site. These image-and-text ads are typically shown on the right-hand side of the News Feed on the desktop version of the site. 
    • Sponsored Stories: Sponsored stories look like messages that come from people in a user’s network about their engagement with your brand. For instance, if you sponsor a story for your nail salon, a user may see a post in their News Feed that says their connection Sally Smith likes Nancy’s Nail Salon. Sponsored stories can look similar to a status update, but they are labeled “sponsored” and can appear both in the News Feed or on the right hand side of the homepage.
    • Facebook Offers: If you want to share a coupon or discount with your audience, you can create a Facebook Offer. When someone claims the offer, they can use it at your place of business to receive a discount. 

    If you are advertising directly through Facebook, you can target your ads to specific audiences based on a number of factors, such as their location, age, gender, and interests. The more you narrow your ads, the more targeted the audience that sees your ads will be.

    Have you seen a change in how many people your News Feed updates are reaching? What are you doing to increase engagement with your business?

    About the Author

    Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.

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    New Craigslist Rules & What They Mean for Multifamily Marketers

    Last updated 7 months ago

    Over the years, Craigslist, a free classifieds-site created to connect individual buyers and sellers, has also become a powerful marketing tool for many industries, including multifamily. But recently, Craigslist implemented some rule changes to ensure the site’s content stays true its original purpose of serving the needs of people — not businesses.

    It’s hard to blame the many multifamily properties that pushed the limits of the previous Craigslist ad posting rules by using elaborate HTML-based listings. What’s not to love? They received free listings that could be uploaded as HTML templates, with plenty of images, logos, and multiple hyperlinks. Plus, these listings could potentially be seen by thousands of users. However, it was most likely the excessive use of these HTML ads that led Craigslist to develop tighter ad restrictions.

    Whether or not these changes end up being positive or negative for multifamily prospects, here’s an outline of the latest changes to Craigslist’s posting rules and what your business should do to address them.

    Know Important Craigslist Advertising Updates

    In an effort to keep postings consistent and level the playing field for all advertisers across industries, Craigslist has enacted new posting rules that eliminate HTML-based template listings. For example, Craigslist disabled the use of user analytic tracking codes that allow you to track specific elements in a listing, limited images to only those uploaded through its software, and removed the ability to use HTML templates, logos, image tags, and hyperlinks. As a result, the amount of information that you can place in and link to from your ads has been greatly reduced. 

    Maximize Your Craigslist Postings

    So, what can property managers who previously used HTML templates do to stand out  from their competitors? Craigslist ads still allow you to upload up to 12 images (you must now use their tool to upload them), so it is important that you use quality images of your property, since pictures serve as the focal point of these new listings. Also, although the ability to hyperlink to other websites from a term or image has been removed, you can continue to include the full address of links with “http://” in your copy, and these will be active. Even if Craigslist eliminates these active links in the future, you will still be able to include the URL to a website or page in your content so the user can copy and paste it into a browser.

    Without the help of robust HTML templates, formatting your copy for readability is now a priority. Keep it simple, and list the highlights of your property in an easy-to-read format using short paragraphs and bulleted lists. You can also still format your copy to be bold or italicized with simple HTML commands like “<b> (text here) </b>” for bold. Do this with important items like your property name and phone number, but don’t overdo it. Less is more when it comes to font formatting. 

    Most importantly, don’t forget to include a prominent phone number near the top of  your listing, and make sure to answer the calls when they come in. Using a tracking phone number will make it easy for you to know which calls come from Craigslist. 

    Boost Your Listings in Search

    Now that Craigslist ads are much leaner, prospects will have to do additional online research to learn about your property. The best way to get your property seen when prospective residents search is using a comprehensive approach that includes an optimized website with relevant, quality content and paid search advertising so that your property can be discovered in the search results on sites like Google and Bing. Not following this combined approach can cost you many valuable leads that could have become residents.

    Start with evaluating how your business currently performs in search engine results for important terms, like property names and locations. If prospects don’t find you when they search online, they’ll find a competitor. Google Webmasters say the single most important thing you can do to improve organic search listing positions is to provide high-quality content on your website pages, especially your home page. Other ways to improve both your online and mobile search engine results include claiming and optimizing your Google+ Local pages and other online properties like your social media pages, local listings, and review sites. 

    Since many prospects will know your property name, make sure to optimize your website, local listings, and social media sites for your property name keyword. You should also use search engine advertising to bid on your property name keyword to ensure they see you, not your competitors, when they search for your property. 

    Update Your Property’s Website

    Because the new Craigslist postings contain less information than before, many prospects will visit your property’s website to answer their remaining questions. So, it is more important than ever that your site’s homepage efficiently delivers the content they most want to see – and helps them quickly navigate to the content they need. Online Marketing Institute indicates that 50% of potential sales are lost because consumers can’t find the information they are looking for on a business’ website. 

    Your website should do a great job of communicating the basics like your contact information, a call to action, your value proposition, and property amenities. These items are key to meeting a prospect’s needs. The site should also be mobile-optimized and include a click-to-call option for those who are researching properties on their mobile device.

    Of course, all of this effort to make your site better and easier to find is great, but it’s just as important to have a plan for managing your leads once you get them. Everyone knows that leads have a very short shelf life. Once a prospect reaches out to you, the clock starts ticking. If they don't get a quick response, they’ll most likely go with the property that follows up and nurtures them as they make their decision. 

    Don’t Rely on One Marketing Tactic

    For those companies where Craigslist is just one of many marketing channels they use to reach prospects, these changes to the Craigslist rules are not that disruptive. However, for those that relied heavily on this online classified provider, these changes have probably had a significant impact to their lead generation efforts.

    Overall, these changes illustrate an important lesson for all online marketers: don’t just rely on one marketing tactic to bring you leads. A diversified marketing approach that addresses the many different ways that prospects interact in your industry is the best way to maximize your efforts – and mitigate risk.

    What tips do you have for addressing the Craigslist rule changes and adjusting your property’s online marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments. 

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    About the Author

    Doug Jackson is a Sr. Marketing Manager at ReachLocal. He provides real estate organizations with information on how to grow their business through local online advertising, social media marketing and content marketing through the ReachLocal blog.

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