5-Tips on How to Use Keywords for Craigslist (#4 Will Amaze You)

In this article, I will teach you how people use Craigslist to find anything on Craigslist so that you are more prepared to create great Craigslist listings.

When you decide to post something on Craigslist, you may or may not know that you are using keywords for craigslist posts. If you want someone to find your listing, you need to make it “discoverable” (or findable). Sounds simple enough, but there are many tools today that make it too easy to cram a bunch of crap into a craigslist posting and hurt its ability to be found.

These tips are just a few that I have mentally collected over the past few years and I am sharing these so that you can find your ads easier.

“It frustrates me when random listings are returned when I search on Craigslist. It makes it hard for me to find cars and it is annoying.”

Voted Top Complaint on BRZO

Tip #1 – Get inside me, the consumer

Sounds racy, but it is not. The best way to get inside your potential buyer’s brain is to act like them. Go to Craigslist, look at the website and think, “If I am looking for a BMW M3, what would I search?”

The hard part about getting inside your buyer’s head is to not overthink it.  You are an expert in what you are selling (or at least you know more about it than the buyer). 

Unless your buyer is an enthusiast, think about dumbing down your approach to choosing keywords. Don’t use “Body Codes” (930, G60, E46 …), “Body Styles” (Coupe, Cabriolet, I mean who can spell cabriolet on the first try!?!), or even cram Buzzword-Bingo terms (“We finance everyone”, “Se Habla Espanol”, “We deliver”). 

Think how you would like to be courted for a date.  Keep it simple and straight to the point. Like, “BMW M3” or “Lexus LX 470”

Tip #2 – Pick relevant keywords

Your Lexus ain’t a BMW M3 so don’t fake it! Often I see the title of a Craigslist ad to the tune of, ” 2007 Lexus SC400 – BMW AUDI INFINITY BENTLEY MERCEDES”. That my friend is the definition of keyword spam and frankly the mark of a scammer. As a consumer, I see this and immediately ignore the listing. DO NOT DO THIS!

If you are selling a Mercedes, go out to the car and look at the trunk.  What does it say? “E 420” Only if the car is a Wagon do you put “wagon” in the title.  

Your title text should read, “Mercedes E 420 Wagon”.  Don’t forget the SPACE between the E and 420.  If a user searches for “E420” your ad will be found.  But if you put “E420” and the user searches for “E 420” your ad will NOT be found.

Also if you search for “Mercedes” or “Mercedes Wagon” your ad will be found.  

Tip 3 – Filters, filters, filters!

Why shouldn’t I use other words like “Coupe” or “Sedan” or “Convertible” or “Cabriolet” or “Manual” or “Automatic”….? Craigslist gives you a great tool for searching these types of words and they are called “Filters”.

Filters are structured and will cover 99% of what people are searching for on Craigslist. For example, if a person wants only “Manual Transmission” cars, they will view the “transmission” filter and select “manual”.

You don’t need to put it in the title of the ad, it is ok to put it in the body, but really it is just copying information the consumer already knows!

When creating new listings, look at the filters and be as complete as possible here. Then simply focus on additional content in the body of your text.

Tip 4 – Amazing! – Title vs. Body

By default when a person searches Craigslist, the terms they submit are used to search the entire listing. By default on a search engine like BRZO, the default setting is to search only the title by default. 

This makes the copy of the listing irrelevant and allows the user to focus on the filters.  See Tip #3. The body is useful when a potential buyer clicks through to view more information, but frankly, they are just going to look at the photos and then decide if they should read the ad.

Focus on the photos, you have 24 potential shots so make them count.

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Tip 5 – Negation is so negative but it works!

The normal Craigslist user doesn’t even know that you can “hide” listings that contain specific words from the search results. But for the enthusiast market, they are savvier and will commonly hide listings that they don’t want to see.

Examples of this are “-conv*” which will hide any result that contains a word beginning with “conv” like Convertible. Another example is “-auto*” which will hide all the listings that have words beginning with “auto” like Automatic.

Then these users will turn-off the “Search Title Only” filter in their searches so that the entire body of the listing is considered and those listings with “Auto” are hidden from the results.

Bonus Tip

You are a human and you are first and foremost a visual creature. You react to visuals first, even before you hear or read about them. Make sure that you use the entire potential of your listing by putting in as many photos as you possibly can.

Don’t take screenshots of your listings on another service! If you need to just go outside and use your phone to take more photos of everything.

Listings with lots of photos are the best for finding stuff. If you put a listing up with no-photos, why would anyone want to look at that listing! Don’t spam your photos with phone-numbers, logos of your company or even derogatory stuff like, “Se Habla Espanol”!

This is insulting and provides a terrible user experience. Frankly, it marks you as insensitive and slimy.


Millions of listings are posted to Craigslist every month.  Your listing needs to stick out and be found by the right potential buyer.  Make sure that you are thinking the way that your potential buyer is thinking and don’t spam them with crap in your listing. 

Focus on a good user experience and you will build respect and a relationship with the buyer before they contact you.  It is like dating, you don’t want to go for the kiss during the handshake.

The modern consumer focuses on building a relationship with the companies, people and products that they engage with. 

Your Craigslist listing is the beginning of that relationship, picking the right keywords will help you in that process. Picking the wrong keywords will just end up annoying people or potentially even offending them and thus hurting your brand. If you are considerate and engaged, you’ll do just fine.

Get 80s and 90s car listings

Sign up for BRZO Motors today and find your dream 80’s and 90s sports cars for sale, as soon as tomorrow.

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