Barnacle SEO – Local Search Engine Optimization for The Sam’s Club Crowd

January 30th, 2011 by Will Scott

Barnacle SEO update for Pubcon New Orleans 2014 on slideshare: Barnacle SEO for Local Search at #Pubcon

This post is republished here since the site on which it was originally published is now offline. Originally published. Many of the examples are no longer valid, but I hope the screenshots are still useful.

Barnacle SEO for everyone.

In the time since this was originally published, our number New Orleans SEO agency has gone from working almost exclusively with local small businesses to practicing Barnacle SEO on a much larger scale. Our clients today include higher education and healthcare concerns for whom the barnacles are bigger and more plentiful.

Every industry has an opportunity to leverage directories, high-authority sites, and more to catch those searchers floating by in the current.


Small business owners are generally a frugal lot.

Of course there are some who’ve got the budget to invest heavily as long as they see a return, but what about those who don’t?A long time ago someone coined the phrase “Parasite SEO” talking about the abuse of Blogger and to get better search term positioning.  I love the term, but “parasite” is just so ugly sounding.  I prefer “Barnacle SEO”.

Barnacle SEO: attaching oneself to a large fixed object and waiting for the customers to float by in the current.
As we know, there are lots of large trusted sites out there which by virtue of all those factors we know and love take very little coaxing to rank well for long-tail phrases.

And if I’ve said it once I’ve said it 1000 times “local search IS long tail search”.

So, here’s a few of those large fixed objects:

Local profiles have a lot of benefit for Barnacle SEO.  In many instances they play supporting roles — helping to increase the number of web references or “citations” as David likes to call them.

The following examples are from real, Main Street, clients who pay less than $500.00 / month for SEO services.  Obviously these are not our most competitive categories, but we’ve found that for many small businesses it doesn’t take a lot to move the needle.

Clearly we could, and will over time, better optimize the profile pages themselves.  And amazingly, in one of these cases the site uses a bad CMS so we can’t even control the on-page content.

Merchant Circle and Yahoo in supporting roles:

Property Damage Rhode Island - Image from Google

Notice the client, Puroclean RI, has top billing in both Organic and on the Map for “Property Damage Rhode Island“, even with a very bad title tag, and is present with both Merchant Circle and Yahoo! Local listings.  So, with a little Barnacle SEO we’ve got 30% of page 1 (and this is just one of many search terms) without breaking the bank.

Merchant Circle in a leading role:
Accounting Firm Louisiana - Image from Google

As you can see, with the Merchant Circle listing we have 2 of the top 3 for “Accounting Firm Louisiana” for ASU, LLC in Metairie LA.  And this one is very early in our process.  Within 60 days or so we would expect his listing to supplant the Merchant Circle listing and hopefully knock out that top one as well.

Picture of Sara Palin with an M-16

Sara Palin Taking Aim on those Barnacles

Like all SEO it’s not a case of “build it and they will come”, each of these listings needs to be cultivated, and promoted around the web.

But, as the above demonstrate a little bit can go a long way when you first attach yourself to a big heavy object.

With Barnacle SEO, even a Sam’s Club shopper can compete with the Neiman Marcus set in local search engine optimization.

Image Credits (Wikipedia):
Gooseneck barnacles taken at Limekiln Point on San Juan Island
Camp Buehring, Kuwait – Lt. Col. David Cogdell helps Alaska Governor Sarah Palin test out the Engagement Skills

Will Scott is president and founder of Search Influence a website promotion company in New Orleans, LA focused on local search engine optimization for small business.