You’d agree with me if I told you that SMBs don’t have it easy when it comes to ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) in the initial stages of building a solid online presence. Given the competitive nature of the industry today, SMBs need to think quick to get a good online presence up and running for their business. Barnacle SEO is a simple way for SMBs to boost their rankings on SERPs.

So, where do you begin? Let’s start with the two basic questions you might have about barnacle SEO.

#1 What is Barnacle SEO?

Barnacle SEO is using larger, reputable websites to promote your own business’ website and gain more traffic. Will Scott of Search Influence, the man who coined the term, explains it in his original post as “attaching oneself to a large fixed object and waiting for the customers to float by in the current.”

For example, a local grocery shop owner can get his business ranking well on SERPs if it is listed with a Yelp (Learn about yelp rating system) account in the correct local business category. By identifying popular sites and sites specific to your niche, you can take full advantage of barnacle SEO.

#2 What Kind of Sites Should You “Attach” Your Business To?

Major directories and social media are best recommended to implement a barnacle SEO strategy. Here’s a list of the most common websites and directories that business use.


Yellow Pages

Four Square




Yahoo Local

Google My Business


If you’re running a niche business, look for directories and sites that cater to you specifically. For example, if you’re the owner of a bistro or a restaurant, you must be listed on Zomato or OpenTable aside from Yelp or having a Facebook Page.

One way of doing this is by going on to each of these sites and entering your business information. Conversely, you can use local listing services that will list you over several major directories in one shot. Either way, your barnacle SEO will be placed, and it is only a matter of time before you see your business ranking well on SERPS.

NOTE: Yelp is a forerunner in the local listings field, but keep in mind that the more places you’re listed on, the more likely it is for Google to rank you higher. So, start listing your business on as many sites and directories specific to your area and niche.

(Find out more about local listings services here.)

Barnacle SEO Growth Hacks

So, it’s settled that barnacle SEO can save you a good place on SERPs. But there are other means to get your business to grab the benefits of higher traffic rates. Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, explains in a Whiteboard Friday video that there are lot of opportunities to barnacle your business presence online. He says, “It’s sort of the opposite of normal keyword research, where you’re looking for those sort of low difficulty, high opportunity keywords. Here, we’re looking for the toughest keywords out there…” So, the task lies in finding the right websites, blogs, etc to target, aside from the above mentioned directories.

Barnacle SEO

  1. Guest Blogs
    Look at the content that is trending in your niche and pick topics that you can write as a guest post. Find top blogs you can write for, pitch your content idea and get your guest post featured. This here would be your barnacle.[Here’s an article to get you started on guest blogging.]
  2. Press Releases
    Get your business featured on a news site or on other industry publications. Write a press release about something relevant and topical, and distribute it to a PR press release distribution site. To make this happen, make sure you have some good content to offer.[Josh Steimle’s article about writing free press releases for your business, and Netpath’s article about free press release sites will help you get started.]
  3. Sponsored Content
    Sponsored content is a type of native advertising where you can pay an online publishing platform to feature an article on their website with your company’s branding on the article. Even though you’ll have to spend on this, you’re sure to bag a good barnacle this way.

    [Read more about how to make sponsored content the right way by Hanna Brooks Olsen.]
  4. Create a Wikipedia PageAfter you’ve got a few articles about your business online, open a Wikipedia page for your business. Wikipedia pages for businesses account for credibility, visibility and reputation and can boost your position on SERPs. As a popular authority in online search, it has a huge number of users who read and edit articles. This is a very feasible barnacle SEO for your business, and the best part of it: it’s free!

    [Here’s an article by Fred Pierce from with a video that is your essential guide to creating a Wikipedia page.

  5. Roundup Blog Posts
    According to Hubspot, a roundup blog post or an expert roundup is a collection of quotes or interviews by influential people in your niche. Create a roundup post by reaching out to the influential people in your realm of business and you reach a larger number of readers on line. Besides boosting your the visibility of your business online by means of this barnacle, you even expand your business network.

    [Here’s a video by Quick Sprout on how to create an expert roundup blog post to give you a better idea.]
  6. Social Media Handles
    Create separate accounts on social media for your business. Start with the simple Instagram account, Twitter handle, Pinterest or Tumblr page; follow/add people and other businesses; update your accounts with posts that are appropriate to your business; promote your page accordingly. If it fits your strategy, you can also start a YouTube channel. This is an easy score in terms of a barnacle SEO. In addition to actively posting and sharing things, make sure you add comments where you can.

    [You can handle all your social media from one dashboard by using Buffer or Hootsuite.]
  7. Participation in Community Events
    A great way to make a meaningful barnacle is to participate in community events. For example, if there’s a charity event held by an NGO near you, see if there’s a way you can contribute to such an event. By doing this you will bag a mention on the event’s website.

    [Moz’s Miriam Ellis wrote an article about using barnacle SEO to participate in local community awareness. Give it a read to get a better idea.]

Barnacle SEO is a great way to have a well kempt online presence for your business. As Will Scott put it, “with a judicious application of Barnacle SEO even the smallest budgets can have an impact on small business website promotion.” By implementing some of these hacks, you can up your business rankings on SERPs.


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