I am posting ads on craigslist since 2009. I have experienced craigslist flagging issue a lot. its funny, sometimes my competitor and trolls try to flag your ads because they do not want you to swim on top of Craigslist search results.
So we decided to test and figure out all variables that can cause flagging. Today I am going to share with you so you can change your strategy a little bit to stay ahead of the game.
First, you might ask how craigslist decide to flag and remove ads from their site?
The flagging system is a community and user-generated most of the time craigslist wouldn’t confirm whether your ad really contains prohibited content or not. Craigslist algorithm will just remove your post if there are several users who decided to flag your post right after it is up.
Flagging is not 100 Percent user generated. Craigslist flag and remove ad themselves. So we must post ads in a way to satisfy both craigslist and the community.
The system’s algorithm usually will not keep your ad if the ratio between flags and ad view is not balanced. For example, if within 5 minutes your ad is viewed 120 times and you get 23 flags, you are in the high zone and your ad will likely be automatically deleted by the system.
The exact ratio is unknown but based on our test and data, if below 5% of your visitors are flagging the post you are safe. Anything above 5% is going to be in the red zone and above 10 percentage there is 100 percent chance that your ad is going to be flagged. The lower flag you got for a post, the higher chance that your ad will safely stay on the site.
Here are main reasons for Craigslist flagging that we are going to discuss in details:-
- Your IP Address is not matching with the area you want to post.
- Your Ad content including title, images, and Description
- Competitors flagging your post
- Posting lot of ads in short amount of time from the same IP.
- Using Special Characters in your Ad Title
- Posting in the Wrong Category
- Offering unsolicited offers. And email spam.
- Spammy Links in your ad. ( Click Bait)
1) Your IP Address.
Craigslist main purpose is to host local community advertisement, it requires you to post ads locally. Therefore, if you posting ads for property sale in Dallas, the site will assume your IP shows that you are in Dallas area as well. Craigslist is not a global single domain website. Craigslist has a different domain for each city. For Example
In fact, the Total number of Craigslist sites are 700. So if you are sitting in New York and trying to post in San Diego, California you might end up getting your ad flagged or ghosted. This is a very common mistake. Sometimes you might get away with it. But 90% of the time your ad will be ghosted or flagged right away.
Posting from a different area can raise a flag. Because craigslist detects that you are trying to game the system.
How to Fix it?
Some folks use public proxies to access craigslist. Don’t do that! Most of these proxies are spammed till death.
If you want to post in other cities as well without getting flagged. , I recommend semi-automated StringProxies. They work like a charm with craigslist.
If you want to post 2-3 ads per day and you are in the same city, you don’t need any proxy. Just use your real IP address and make sure there is no VPN installed on your computer. Check your IP Address using different browsers Sometimes unknown programs install IP Changer which might cause getting your ad flagged.
2) Your Ad Title, Description, and Images
Since we discussed above, craigslist mostly depend on its visitors to decide which ads should be removed or not. Your best bet is to offer great content to the visitors. Uniquely designed image, catchy titles and converting ad description.
As long as you provide value, you are going to be safe.
The resource that you can use to create stunning and flag proof Craigslist Ads:
1) Craigslist Ad Title Generator. You can get a lot of unique Titles using this tool. Watch the video below to see how it works.
I coded this excel spreadsheet for myself that I use quite often. you can download it using the form below.
Disclaimer:- Please do not use these titles for mass posting. it is again Craigslist TOU. You can use these titles one by one individually.
2) You can get a cool looking craigslist image for few bucks that can use for months after months. The awesome looking image helps you to look legitimate. It helps you increase your conversions and grow your costumers.
You can order Your awesome looking craigslist flyer here.
3) Competitors flagging your ads.
When someone flags your ad it counts as alert against the post in question. Craigslist algorithm scan it to see if it is prohibited, offensive, hoax, or contain disturbing content. When the number of flags accumulates and reach a threshold set by craigslist algorithm, the ad gets flagged right away.
However, most of the time your competitor flag your ad because they do not want your ad swimming on the front page. They just flag and remove your ads using hundreds of different proxies and take unfair advantage because of no competition.
How can you protect ads from Flaggers?
a) Increase your View Count. Every time you open in a new tab, you have created a new impression. And if you get a few hundred unique visitors to your craigslist right away. It’ll be quite difficult for someone to remove your ad.
b) Try not to use the same brand name in Title. You might be surprised, automatic ad flaggers search for your brand and automatically send flags to their competitors. A Craigslist post that contains item’s name, brand or company’s name is easier to be detected by the automatic flagging program, which will increase the chance of being targeted. To avoid this, use a unique combination of your titles and do not use the same brand, again and again, to make it difficult for flagging software and alerts.
c) Mask your Phone number with VOIP phone number. Flagging software track you down if you use the same phone number, again and again, even its easy for a human to track. All they need to do is to search your phone number on craigslist and they will get a list to abuse and remove. Check the screenshot below. I was able to find dozens of ads posted by the same user by just searching his phone number.
Why expose yourself to spammers? Use VOIP numbers instead and make your ad flag-proof.
You can get a new Number from Tossable and use them in your craigslist ad. It’ll be quite difficult for a spammer to figure out your ads if you use multiple phone numbers. On top of that, you can forward these numbers to your personal phone number.
Do not use these number to spam or mass posting on craigslist. It is just the matter of exposing your real phone number to spammer and scammers on craigslist.
4) Posting quite often from the same IP Address.
if you are posting dozens of ads from the same account and same IP address in short amount of time, you are in trouble! because this might raise a red flag. Its not natural.
Based on our tests and experience, if you post more than 10 ads per day from the same ip address, you might end up getting your ads flagged or ghosted.
How to get rid of this situation if I still want to post more than 10 ads per day?
There is no short answer to this questions. But I can write a separate guide on this topic. Here are few quick tips that can help you:-
1)Schedule your post. If you have a lot of inventory or items, you will need to make a schedule to spread out your post. If you are accidentally flooding the Craigslist front pages with your ads in a very short time, big chance your IP will be blacklisted which result in flagging and ghosting.
2) Use more than One IP address As mentioned above, Craigslist system monitors the IP addresses of its users. When they notice too many posts coming from one IP address, that list will get flagged right away.
You can get new IP address quite easily. Read topic ” IP Address ” in this article to learn more about changing your IP Address.
There are tons of other factors but let’s keep that for another time. Above are the most common solution for this particular problem.
5) Using Special Characters in your Ad Title
It is funny but based on our test, using special characters in your craigslist can cause flagging.
Special characters are used by many posters just to grab attention and increase CTR (Click Through Rate) in most cases these special characters are useless and misleading. Try to think from a different perspective. Ordinary craigslist visitors don’t like getting tricked using this click bait technique. So they flag your ad.
Pro Tip:- Don’t overact, just do it naturally.
6) Posting in the Wrong Category
Posting your ads in the right category is quite important to avoid getting flagged. Imagine if you are providing legal services and posted an ad in Services > beauty instead of services > legal.
What will happen?
The traffic coming to Services> beauty are people looking for beauty related stuff. And if they find your ad, they will flag it right away.
Simple Solution:- Post ads in the appropriate category.
7) Offering unsolicited offers. And email spam.
There are lot of shady people out there on craigslist. They post ads on craigslist and offer in solicited or illegal product/services.
The content of and everything seems perfect, but when someone shows interest in email, ad poster tries to extract phone number and other personal information that can be used in a variety of illegal activities.
Once smart people notice this, they flag the ad immediately.
Be honest with people you are dealing with. if your behavior is inappropriate, you might end up getting your ad flagged. What if your ad needs just 2,3 flags and who knows?
8) Spammy Links in your ad (Click Bait)
Posting affiliate links, CPA type of links and links to a website with a quick rich or a Ponzi scheme can cause red flags. Craigslist tracks these links for potential abuse. And even user can flag you very easily if they find out that you are trying to game the system.
a) Do not use any link in the description. Posting links in ad description is considered as spam. Especially affiliate, CPA type of links.
Its better to use your website link on craigslist image. If you are not a designer, No problem! you can use People Per Hour to get some cool looking flyers.
b) Do not use URL Shortening Service. If you are using URL Shortening service like Google Short URL or Bitly. Stop using them immediately! Based on our tests, we noticed that ads with URL shorteners links are considered as spam and gets flagged very quickly.
c) Provide value to your visitors. You are posting ads on craigslist to generate leads and clients. So make sure you provide value to your visitors and potential costumers. If you use click bait, I am sure you’ll end up getting flagged and even blacklisted.
2) IP Chicken is a FREE tool to know what is your ip address.
3) Get a cool looking Craigslist Image that converts like crazy.
4) Craigslist Ad title Generator Create thousands of unique headlines for your craigslist ad.