The Who, What, Why, How and When of Barnacle SEO

In the world of SEO, there seems to be no shortage of trends that come—and go—promising to help businesses everywhere to improve search result rankings. Some such trends are flighty and short-lived while others are far much more than trends and actually do produce results.

Barnacle SEO was a seemingly short-lived trend back in 2007 or 2008 but is re-emerging today and has the potential to become a truly valuable SEO practice. Whether or not you have yet heard about barnacle SEO, it is well worth your time to get immersed in it and know how you can make it work for your business.

Barnacle SEO Part I—the Who and What

The term “barnacle SEO” was coined by Will Smith (no, not the actor) several years ago. Smith used this term to describe the action of creating an identity or content on another high-ranking site as a means of improving your site’s own SERPs.

A barnacle is basically something of a parasite that, instead of relying completely upon itself for sustenance, leverages the power of another entity. Marine references aside, an example of barnacle SEO would be creating a thorough profile of your company on a listing site like Yelp or Superpages and then linking that profile to your website. This can also be done via social media sites. The power ranking of these sites rankings can pull your own site up in the SERPs.

Companies that can benefit the most from barnacle SEO are those whose keywords when entered into a search engine return many listing sites on the first page. Local businesses tend to experience this quite heavily and often are the best candidates for this practice.

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Barnacle SEO Part II—the Why

If you know anything about the current phase of SEO’s ongoing evolution, it should be quite easy to understand the growing power of barnacle SEO. Two main factors make the ground ripe for this tactic now.

First, many traditional link building exercises are no longer rewarding companies with good results. In fact, some tactics may actually work against companies’ SEO efforts in the end. However, link building is far from dead—as long as the links are of high quality. Enter barnacle SEO. In a way, you could consider barnacle SEO to be the newest form of link building. Because it is anchored by very high-quality base sites, it fits perfectly into the new SEO world order that focuses on quality, not quantity of links.

Akin to that concept is the focus on relevance and quality of content. Everyone has been hearing about this for a while related to site content but the focus on this also pertains to any content about your site or company, including profiles. It is not just any profile on a Yellow Pages site that will get a bump in the SERPs. Companies that have robust profiles complete with photos and descriptions will see benefits far beyond those that only have biographic company information.

Barnacle SEO Part III—the How

If you think that barnacle SEO could help you, the first thing to do is to verify that. Your research here is pretty basic. Simply perform searches on your company name, brand name and top keywords. If you  consistently see sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Superpages, Yellow Pages or major social media platforms in the top results, consider that your green light. You can also identify the sites to target from these searches as the ones that most frequently appear at the top of the lists are the ones you want to use.

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Once you have your list of target sites in hand, follow these recommendations to get the most benefit out of them:

  • Create a Complete Profile

Make sure your business name, address, hours, phone number and website are listed and accurate. Write a robust description that really tells people who you are and what you do and include your geo for local search boosts. You do not need to force keywords in as they really should appear logically in describing your company. Finally, post good quality photos to let people see your business, giving them another way to evaluate you.

  • If Allowed, Add a Guest Post

Some sites will let you make a guest post and you should do this whenever possible. Avoid fluff, however as your post will hurt you more than it will help you if it does not contain enough meat.

  • Build Links

Create links to both your profiles and any guest posts. Your links should include a mix of pages on your site—especially your location and contact pages—and other related types of sites. You can also link to your own social media pages or blog. Make sure that all links have a purpose and take visitors to other sites that will have meaning for them.

In case you have not seen the pattern here yet, I will call it out for you—quality matters. Find quality sites, create quality profiles and link to quality pages.

Barnacle SEO Part IV—the When

When should you add barnacle SEO to your overall SEO program? The answer to that question is simply—when you want to improve your search result rankings.  My guess is that means now. Unlike many other SEO tactics, barnacle SEO is relatively straightforward and really gives you the lion’s share of the power. It’s a great way to take control of your online reputation as well.

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I must say one final thing about barnacle SEO—do not let it be a substitute for a quality website. Your true anchor is your own company site and that must offer users the experience and information they need. If it does not, no SEO tactic in the end can really be of much use.

Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.
BusinessCreator, Inc.

Ed can be reached at (or visit his websites)
855-943-8736 ext. 101

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The Who, What, Why, How and When of Barnacle SEO
Whether or not you have yet heard about barnacle SEO, it is well worth your time to get immersed in it and know how you can make it work for your business.
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BusinessCreator, Inc.
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