So I ran into Craig Newmark, of the eponymous CraigsList.org at The Marker's Com.Vention conference today outside of Tel Aviv, and I got to sit down with him for a few minutes and discuss SEO. Craig is generally known as no-BS kind of guy, so he was a great guy to speak to about how SEO and the SEO community have affected his site, which was one of the first user-generated content sites online.
Eli: What has CraigsList done--or not done--in terms of SEO?
Craig: As long as our guidelines are met, our users provide us with good SEO. But we do have people who spam our site for SEO purposes.
Eli: How do you deal with those spammers?
Craig: Usually, we just get rid of the spam. Some spammers are persistent, so we discuss it with them--or with their ISPs. Basically, we're trying to enforce honest behavior. SEO is a good, legitimate busines; just treat other people well.
Eli: And how do you catch dishonest behavior? Is it just users reporting spam or do you have technology in place?
Craig: We use a combination of techniques. Users find them. Sometimes a smart person on CraigsList will notice a pattern of spam and email us about it. The community helps us out.
Eli: Craig, you're famous for keeping CraigsList a small operation even as the size of the site has grown. Any advice for people who want to keep their businesses small and profitable?
Craig: Try to find ways to enlist the community to help, as we do with flagging. Listen to community; find out what they want. Don't waste time and resources on something your community doesn't want.
So, in that spirit, what do the readers of SEW want? Let us know.
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