There are many local SEO strategies available to the common search marketer; however, most strategies surround optimizing only the website of a business. But when you take a look at Google SERPs for geo-modified queries like Dentists in Gainesville GA, it’s not uncommon to see directories and other authoritative domains like Yelp.com, Yellowpages.com, and LinkedIn.com holding the top rankings.
This is where barnacle SEO comes into play. Originated from Will Scott, barnacle SEO is generalized as:
“Attaching oneself to a large fixed object and waiting for the customers to float by in the current.”
In a local search context, barnacle SEO means optimizing your business’s web properties on high-ranking, authoritative directories and working to rank these profiles instead of (or in addition to) your business’s site. Below we share some insights as to how you leverage barnacle SEO to supplement your greater local SEO strategy.
1. Get Lay of the Local Landscape & Pinpoint Your Barnacle-Worthy Assets
The first order of business is to find out which directories and high-authority domains are consistently ranking well in your company’s industry and in your local area. Conduct a series of Google searches on your primary keyword targets and track which sites are positioned near the top of the results. These are the domains in which you’ll want to invest the most effort building-out your business’s profiles.
2. Create Solid & Semi-Optimized Profiles
If you’re business does not already have a profile on the sites you’ve pinpointed, the first step is to claim your profile listings. Make sure to include the essential information about your company, accurately. That is:
- business name
- phone number
- website URL
- hours of operation
- contact email
In addition to the basics, upload quality (and perhaps keyword optimized) photos (and videos, if possible) that truly embody your business. In addition to generating positive reviews (if applicable on the high-ranking site), photos and videos are major conversion elements that bring more value to your profile.
Lastly, draft a unique and compelling description about your business, emphasizing the products and/or services that it offers. Focus more on the tone and quality of the copy that will rope-in prospective customers, and less about using keywords.
3. Generate External Links (Aggressively)
If your business’ profile is going to rank near the top of SERPs, it’s going to require you to generate external links to it. An easy opportunity is to it create a link to your profile from your own website. For maximum local SEO benefits, also consider building links from other locally-relevant sites (especially high-authority sites) like chamber of commerce listings, social media profiles, charity sites, and or other profiles related to your geographic area. You can generate these links to your barnacle profile along side linking to your business’ website.
Unlike link building to your own website, you can be a bit more aggressive with your linking efforts to these third-party directory profiles. This is because gray-hat (or over-optimized) links are not as likely to stand-out from the thousands (or millions) of links in the site’s backlink profile, compared to the smaller sum of links directing to local business website. In short, it’s less likely to get penalized aggressively building links to your barnacle profile than it is your website.
Barnacle SEO is highly-effective in certain geographic areas and keyword categories. But don’t limit yourself to domains like Yelp.com and Yellowpages.com. There are numerous niche directories that maybe lesser known, but offer a significant degree of authority.