How Barnacle SEO Works for Smal Businesses

barnacle seo for small business

Let me start by saying whether you are doing SEO in Manila or Cebu, the web is a jungle! The Internet aims to level the playing field in terms of promoting the brand and building a customer list. At times, you’d think that it is not made for small businesses no matter how much it tried to treat all natures, scopes and sizes of businesses equally.

Small business owners usually find difficulties navigating their way to the top, at least online, as they compete with attention. These businesses typically work with a very limited budget. Gaining real traction in both organic and paid results can be daunting. Unlike those giants which seemed to dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs).

If you are a small business owner, what will you do? Don’t lose hope. Ever heard of barnacle SEO? Well, the idea behind such is easy to understand. Let’s take a look at what barnacle SEO is and what it can do to your business.


What is barnacle SEO

Barnacle SEO is not in its infancy. Will Scott coined the term in 2008 to replace a somewhat derogatory term ‘parasite SEO.’ Fundamentally, the concept relies with digital landscape reality wherein larger websites can rank high and obtain traffic while smaller sites often lag behind, getting lost on the sea of results.

Barnacle SEO, while most websites define it as a process, for yours truly, it is an opportunity to attach the smaller website to a larger website. We refer to Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, Google+, Trip Advisor, etc. as larger websites. Smaller websites can use these sites as a necessary vehicle so they get noticed and included in the top spots of SERPs.

If someone will search for ‘SEO packages in Cebu,’ an independent site may not necessarily appear in the first page. However, a listing in Yellow Pages may make it on the first page. The independent site attaches itself to a large site thus improving the odds of being found.


Why become a barnacle

Barnacle SEO is mostly applicable to small businesses operating locally. It involves profile or business page optimization on well-trusted and high-ranking sites. This means small business owners like you just need a website – your own website – to make the strategy work for you. There is thereby the strategic fit with your limited digital marketing budget.

Barnacle SEO must be a staple of your local campaign. According to Search Engine Land, Google Hummingbird seemed to favor Yelp and other business directories. In another study, Yelp is a prominent result among mobile search queries wherein 37.3% of clicks go to the profile page in Yelp while 51.8% go to Yelp profile and category.

Sites like Yelp builds brand equity. The sites are well-known and oftentimes, only real businesses are listed on them. They also provide better answers. Consider this, users are looking for information about your business and these might be buried deep into the site (i.e. the Contact Us page). Unlike content listings that straightforwardly include operating hours, menus, amenities, etc.

Perhaps, this is also the reason Google ranks these sites high on SERPs as they provide better answers to queries. Business listings and directories are the big ships online, so you should barnacle on them.


How to become a barnacle

Before you can become a successful barnacle, you must know which sites you should be attaching yourself to. As you may know by now, not all sites are created equal and so are the larger sites. Some sites rank higher in specific industries.

Find the most applicable sites to attach yourself to. Start by doing a keyword search. Choose those sites with the most consistent results. Attach your site to these sites. Prioritize those sites that appear higher on SERPs when you search for a particular keyword.

Next, create a business profile on your chosen sites. Claim the profile as if it is the only business on your category or niche. Treat the profiles as an extension of your business. Rule of thumb: make sure that the information on all your profiles is accurate and consistent specifically the contact details. This is critical since a slight difference in the business address, for instance, can confuse Google and other search engines.

Take the time to upload images especially your company logo and others that show off the business like maps, galleries or menus. Some sites allow customization of the profile page. Make your profile appear like your own website. Think about visual branding. These are the major conversion points for your prospects.

Optimizing your profile to maximize the results is necessary. First, you need to submit your information in Google Places. A brief yet compelling description of the business must be apparent including a list of your product and service offerings. Include the basic info and the links to your website. Make sure that the links are working. Test them.

When creating business description copies, the SEO world is divided whether to optimize the description including keywords or not. Basically, small business opts for barnacle SEO because it cannot pay for high-competitive keywords. You may put your primary keywords on the description without being too blatant about it. Simply, integrate the keywords as organic as possible.

Majority of the sites welcome customer feedback. Encourage your customers to provide reviews and testimonials on the site. The review profile leverages your online presence and visibility especially on the results pages.


Barnacle SEO is processual which means results are not immediate. It will take a few weeks or even months before you can observe changes. However, the results are always worth the time, effort and (minimal) money that you have invested in it. Getting noticed may be hard at first. Barnacle SEO presents itself as a high-ROI strategy for small business. Leveling a playing field indeed!

To become a barnacle or not? This is the most pressing issue here. Anyhow, creating with the help of web companies in the Philippines is easier. Your concern should be providing real answers to your prospects when ranking high on search engines is difficult at the moment.

barnacle seo

Caveat: There are SEO consultancy firms that can help you decide whether barnacle SEO is appropriate for your business or not. These firms can also provide you with options of strategies so your rank higher on SERPs on the price specifically created for small businesses.


Sources: Search Engine Journal | Search Engine Land | Moz

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