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What is Barnacle SEO, and How Can it Help Local Businesses?

Matt Brady
#Digital Marketing, #SEO
Published on April 18, 2014

Learn how to use "Barnacle SEO" to use popular directory sites to help your site get found.

The world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complex one, filled with ever-changing search engine algorithms, constant debate about what tactics work best, and terminology that can be confusing to the outsider. This can make it hard for a smaller business to keep up with changes that might affect their search results, especially when it relates to attracting local visitors. Recent news has shown that these types of companies might be having trouble getting the best search rankings, but it’s hard to tell what they can do to keep from being excluded.

As Google and other search engines try to optimize their algorithms to make sure they aren’t unfairly penalizing local businesses, one strategy that has been helpful for these businesses is called “Barnacle SEO”. The idea behind this strategy is to act like the sea creature for which it is named, “attaching” yourself to a larger site (such as Yelp or Yahoo! Local) in order to get found when people are searching for the types of products or services you offer. Since these directory sites are often among the first results displayed when people search for keywords related to local businesses (e.g. “contractor”, “beauty salon”, “Chinese restaurant”, etc.), they can be as relevant a source of information about your company as your own website.

How to Be a Barnacle

In order to make the most of Barnacle SEO, you’ll want to determine which directory sites will give you the best results. Some of the popular directories include:

To determine which directory sites you should target, you can do a search for the keywords relevant to your business and see which sites rank highly in the results. For these sites, you’ll want to optimize your profile, making sure all the information (name, address, phone number, website, etc.) is correct, and including your hours of operation and a contact email address, as well selecting the relevant categories for your business. If possible, you should also try to include some appealing photos and provide a good description of the products or services you offer, since users of directory sites have been shown to respond well to this type of information, especially when they are using mobile devices (studies have shown that 50% of mobile searches are local).

Of course, it will help if you can get people to leave positive reviews and/or ratings on your profile, and you’ll want to be sure to link to your profile pages from your website. Setting up profiles on these sites might be a bit time-consuming, but if you’re able to leverage the resources that directories provide, you may find that they end up being a great resource for helping people find your business.

Do you have any questions about what steps you need to take to implement Barnacle SEO? Do you have any concerns about whether your site is optimized for local search? You can sign up for a free Local SEO Report, or feel free to leave a comment below.