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The Return of “Barnacle SEO” and Why It’s Perfect for Small Businesses

Barnacle SEO is an inexpensive strategy for smaller businesses operating on a limited budget. The investment is minimal, but the returns can be substantial.

The Return of "Barnacle SEO" and Why It's Perfect for Small Businesses

Small business owners face a number of challenges when competing for attention on the web. As advantageous as the internet is by making it easier for companies to promote their brand and build a strong customer base, it doesn’t necessarily treat all businesses equally.

For the smaller business owner, typically working with a limited budget, it can be difficult to gain any real traction in the online search results. Larger businesses, working with greater budgets and more extensive SEO teams, typically get the prime real estate when it comes to the SERPs.

So what is the small business owner to do? They have been told over and over again about the power of SEO to build their online identity, and how a properly optimized website will bring a flood of customers to their doors.

When in reality, many of these small businesses have websites that are still stuck on the third or fourth page of the search engine results. Well, Barnacle SEO may hold the key.

What is “Barnacle SEO”?

Barnacle SEOFlickr CC license via Gunnar Pettersson

Barnacle SEO is not a new concept. In fact, the term was coined by Will Scott as a replacement term to “parasite SEO”. In essence, Barnacle SEO takes advantage of one of the basic truths about online search:

Larger websites, with greater traffic, consistently rank higher in the SERPs. While small businesses, even those with great websites, often get lost in the sea of search results.

As its name implies, Barnacle SEO is the process of attaching your website to a larger site, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, or Google+, then using that site as a vehicle to get you noticed in the search results.

These larger sites almost always land the prime real estate in search results and can be used to get better traction for your business in both local and general searches.

For example, if someone is searching for a contractor in Chicago, an independent business owner’s website might not make the first page…

However, their Yelp listing or specific local category probably will make the first page of search results. By attaching themselves, barnacle like, to Yelp, the local contractor has a better shot of being found by his target audience.

How to Become a Smart Barnacle

The first, and most important, step in Barnacle SEO is knowing what sites to attach yourself too. Not all sites and local directories are created equal, and some rank higher for certain industries than others.

To find the sites that best suit your industry, perform a few keywords searches that are relevant to your business. Identify the sites that return the most consistent results, and attach yourself to those.

Yelp consistently returns as a high result for most industries. However, some other websites you might consider include:

  • Google+
  • Yahoo Local
  • YellowPages
  • CitySearch
  • Angie’s List

Once you have identified the directories you want to attach yourself to, create an account and build your business profile.

Creating Your Directory Profile

Once you have claimed your company profile, you will want to optimize it to get the best results. This should be obvious. Starting with Google Places for your business is a great first step.

You will also want to make certain that all of the information your provide is up to date, accurate, and consistent across all of your profiles. This is important, because differences in your various online profiles can confuse the search engines, causing you to lose any potential benefits from your barnacle strategy.

Include your basic information, business name, address, contact info (both phone and email), hours of operation, and website links. You should also include a brief description of your business, images and videos, along with the products and services you offer.

Most of these sites encourage customer reviews, and your review profile can be leveraged to help boost your visibility within the site itself, and ultimately in the general SERPs.

Barnacle SEO takes time, and setting up profiles across a number of different directory sites can be labor intensive. However, as most of these sites are free, the return on investment is definitely worth the time and effort.

Small business owners know how hard it can be to get noticed, especially when they are standing in the shadow of bigger corporations with more online muscle. Barnacle SEO is an inexpensive strategy for smaller businesses operating on a limited budget and a general best practice for all companies and brands.


Featured Image: Dancestrokes via Shutterstock

Category Local Search
Dario Zadro Web Strategist at Zadro Web

Dario Zadro is a web technology strategist with over 20 years of professional experience and the owner of Zadro Web, ...

The Return of “Barnacle SEO” and Why It’s Perfect for Small Businesses

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