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Barnacle SEO: Old Ways Made New

Pat Marcello
Barnacle SEO: Old Ways Made New

One of my friends from high school owns a beauty salon back in my hometown, Pittsburgh, Penn. She knows what I do for a living, and approached me to help her rank better in search. She also wanted more clients walking in her front door.

OK, no problem, right? I knew that as a small business, she didn’t want a recurring monthly charge for professional SEO. But I still wanted to help her.

What do to? What to do?

Have you ever heard the term “Barnacle SEO”?

I happened to be going through Website Magazine the other day, and what I read about barnacle SEO surprised me. It’s the exact plan that I came up with for my friend! Who knew? I must have been asleep in SEO class that day. It sunk into my brain, but I couldn’t put a label on it. Ha!


If you’re in the local search market, barnacle SEO is a great way to help your clients rank higher in results pages and to get more clients walking in their front doors. Basically, barnacle SEO is about getting a listing in every directory- or social-type site you can think of.

Here’s how Website magazine defined barnacle SEO:

“Barnacle SEO leverages the existing authority of websites in order to expedite the process of ranking your profile or content for a keyword.”

In doing this, you’re getting links back from some high authority sites. Even if you pay these sites for a legitimate listing, it’s not likely to cause issues with search engines. Technically, yes… they are paid links, but not the kind that Google hates.

Plus, with the new emphasis on branding and the demise of keyword-rich anchor text, the links coming back to you will most definitely be your URL or your brand name. (And yes, you don’t have to be Pepsi or Starbuck’s to have a brand. Mine’s MagnaSites.com. What’s yours?)

There’s really nothing you can be Google-smacked for. At least not yet. You never know when the Big Dog will start barking again, as we all know, but barnacle SEO seems like a safe bet for the foreseeable future.

So, all you do is to go from site-to-site creating profiles for the business. Sites like Facebook, the Yellow Pages and Yelp are no-brainers, but there are many more.

Here’s a list of 50 sites you can use for barnacle SEO:

  1. 1. Google+ for Business
  2. 2. Bing Places
  3. 3. Yahoo Small Business
  4. 4. Facebook Pages
  5. 5. Yelp
  6. 6. Merchant Circle
  7. 7. LinkedIn
  8. 8. Yellow Pages
  9. 9. White Pages
  10. 10. SuperMedia
  11. 11. Yellow Book
  12. 12. City Search
  13. 13. Mapquest
  14. 14. Biznik
  15. 15. Local.com
  16. 16. Foursquare Biz
  17. 17. Think Local
  18. 18. CitySlick
  19. 19. US Yellow Pages
  20. 20. Super Pages
  21. 21. Dex
  22. 22. Biz Journals
  23. 23. Just Click Local
  24. 24. Discover Our Town
  25. 25. Metrobot
  26. 26. EZ Local
  27. 27. Twibs
  28. 28. LocalEze
  29. 29. Kudzu
  30. 30. CityVoter
  31. 31. Manta
  32. 32. Match Point
  33. 33. USCity.net
  34. 34. Local Site Submit
  35. 35. InfoUSA
  36. 36. Infignos
  37. 37. Yellow Assistance
  38. 38. Get Fave
  39. 39. My Huckleberry
  40. 40. GenieKnows
  41. 41. Mojo Pages
  42. 42. Brownbook
  43. 43. Magic Yellow
  44. 44. CitySquares
  45. 45. Judy’s Book
  46. 46. Angie’s List
  47. 47. Yellow Wise
  48. 48. Local Database
  49. 49. Show Me Local
  50. 50. Topix

Be Thorough

Yes, this is tedious work. But you can hire someone to go about filling in profiles, and it shouldn’t be too expensive. Just be sure that you or whoever is doing the task makes each profile as complete as possible.

hair design adBe sure to add hours of operation, specialties, images, directions, maps, etc. — anything that will assure that a stranger understands what the business is about. This helps search bots, too.

Pictures are also really important! People love to see your staff, your office, your restaurant, etc. Faceless businesses with no information but the address and telephone number won’t get the attention that a complete business listing will.

Think about Authorship. Why is it important to have your image next to some content you wrote? Because people tend to click on images before bare listings. The same principle applies here. Put a face on your business.

And then, ask for reviews! People are depending more and more on online reviews to choose a new business. Even offline, the direct marketing mantra, “Know, Like & Trust,” still applies.

Google+ for Business links to other sites where your business has been reviewed, too, which is pretty cool.  These reviews will help, not just with individuals searching for a business, but with search spiders as well. The more good reviews you have, the more likely it is that you’ll snag some top SERP results. It really is more about how people like you, your business, or your content these days.

So, ask every happy customer who’s leaving through the front door to give you a good review. Use the back of your business card for this, perhaps. “If you like our service, please go to such-and-such website and give us a good review!”  Why waste valuable sales real estate, right?

Worth the Extra Cash?

Most of the sites listed above are free to use. Some have a monthly or one-time fee, so you have to decide whether a listing in one of the paid sites is worth having or whether it’s worth it to upgrade from free to paid in others.

For example, if you have a service business, it’s probably worth upgrading at Angie’s List. It’s a well-known site and a string of good reviews there is likely to improve your traffic, online and off.

So, it’s up to you. Yes, this is a time-consuming task, but as I mentioned, you can probably get someone to complete all the profiles for you. You won’t break your advertising budget. And it would be cost-effective. What do you have more of? Money or Time? Could your time be spent better in creating new content? Yes.

And if you’re a local business, it’s a great idea to get your business into every possible place where people might be searching for a hairstylist, a physician, a pizza shop, etc. If they’re looking, but you’re not there? You may have lost a customer.

Author bio:

Pat Marcello is President and SEO Manager at www.MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company that serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Google+ so you don’t miss a thing. She’s waiting to see how excellent YOU can be. Pat’s last article for SEMrush was “Rich Anchor Text Links: R.I.P."

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Pat Marcello is President and SEO Manager at MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company that serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Follow her on FacebookTwitter or Google+. Pat’s last article for SEMrush was "Google's Fetch and Render: Why It's Important."
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Nice post pam, There's a few great articles on barnacle seo and utilising it to help small businesses rank higher locally than the the big boys. Another couple of tricks is to keep all the NAP name address phone exactly as your website and use schema markup for the nap on your website, And also by adding your town/city and state/ county in your meta description, title tags and alt tags it's a sure way to start ranking high locally and if you can get clients to leave relevant reviews on sites like yelp etc it will help you out more.
Great article Pat,

There are a lot of small businesses that are in the same boat
as your friend. They want better exposure but don't have the budget
for a professional SEO , or the time to try and figure it all out for themselves.