Easiest Barnacle SEO tactics to employ

Table of Contents


No matter how much your search engine optimization strategy rocks, there are just some competitive keywords that are hard to beat. But what if you could bounce off of other websites’ success instead?


The idea behind Barnacle SEO is just that. Like a barnacle attaches itself to a big ship, your brand can latch onto high-ranked websites and ride the current of their keyword strength. In turn, you can save your SEO team from the uphill battle of highly competitive keywords. 


Ready to become seaworthy? Let’s go over Barnacle SEO opportunities, so you can build a network of barnacles and boost your brand. 

What is Barnacle SEO?

The term Barnacle SEO was coined by Will Scott of Search Influence. The concept is simple: don’t waste your marketing efforts on competitive keywords that are beyond your reach. Instead, as part of your SEO strategy, find opportunities to attach your brand to top search engine results. 


There are several ways to get your brand mentioned on the “First Page” results on Google. Depending on the sites that rank high for your desirable keywords, you may be able to partner with them to make a review profile, get a brand link placement or buy an advertisement. 


For example, your catering business may not be able to compete for the search volume keyword “best Thanksgiving dinners.” However, you can make use of barnacles such as: 



These are just a few ways that your brand can get listed or linked on top results, even if you can’t compete directly for the competitive keyword. Getting included in this way can do wonders for your ranking and brand reputation! And you may even get valuable organic traffic. Win-win.

Why Barnacle SEO is important

Why bother with a Barnacle SEO strategy? To start, it’s a much better investment of your team’s time and resources. You may also see a lift in your brand’s ranking and domain authority by focusing on Barnacle SEO instead of competing directly.

Point #1: Latch onto great content to maximize your site reach. 

No need to reinvent the wheel. If other sites are doing something right, you can latch on this great content in order to elevate your own brand. Basically, you can get mentioned or linked in order to receive more traffic and maximize your site reach.

Point #2: Diversify your efforts to improve ranking.

SEO is a complex field that involves lots of trial and error. In addition to your traditional SEO, having a Barnacle SEO strategy can help diversify efforts so that you’re exploring all possible avenues to improve your ranking for the toughest keywords, and raise your backlink profile.

Point #3: Add touch points for customers to find you.

The more you’re mentioned or linked, the more chances potential customers have to find you. By adding these touch points (i.e., the first page), you can increase your online visitors and work to get more engagements and purchases.

Point #4: Improve your brand authority and reputation.

Getting mentioned or linked on authority sites is great for your own reputation. Google’s algorithm rewards sites that participate in trustworthy networks, so you can improve your own authority by association.

Point #5: Make the most of your SEO budget. 

High-competition keywords are SEO treasures, but only if you can make it to the top of the results. Instead of using up your marketing budget on these keywords, you can focus on other opportune keywords and leave these highly competitive ones for barnacles. 

Opportunities for Barnacle SEO

1. Create viral linked signatures

There are some products that domains just naturally link back to when they’re customers. For instance, Instatus, a tool for creating beautiful status pages automatically includes a linked signature for its free-tier users. Genius. 



Buy Me a Coffee, which empowers online creators with the ability to quickly create pages their fans can pay donations to, also allows its customers to embed a clickable icon that leads to the page:

2. Review sites

To get started, create a company profile on review sites that are relevant to your industry. Some popular review sites include TripAdvisor, Trustpilot, Yelp and Facebook. If you’re in the software market, other review sites may include G2, Clutch, Capterra or Get App. 

Identify the review sites that make sense and then create a robust profile that matches your brand. Take the time to fill in all the information, so that potential reviewers see you take your online presence seriously. Start inviting past customers to review as well, so you can stand out from other sites. 

2. Listing platforms

Besides review sites, you can take advantage of listing platforms, which help build citations and your online presence. The most well-known platform is Google My Business, which works in tandem with search results to boost your ranking. 


However, other listing platforms are available. You might get listed in an online address book, yellow pages or check-in site such as Foursquare. Wikipedia is also a good option for getting indirect links. If you’re a toy company, for instance, you could add your product photo to Wikipedia’s page on action figures.


There are also niche address books you may benefit from. For example, if you run a dentistry office, you might want to get listed on the ADA’s Find-A-Dentist tool

3. Community forums

Forums are also a good starting point for building a Barnacle SEO campaign. By joining the conversation on forums, you can expose users to your brand. Some top forum sites include Reddit, Quora and Craigslist. There are niche forums specific to certain topics, too. For example, some popular gaming and tech forums include Discord, GameSpot and Stack Overflow


Basically, there’s a forum for any topic of interest that your brand may be connected to. If you’re a fintech company, for instance, Money Saving Expert is a well-known forum that might prove relevant to gaining new visitors. 

4. Listed on reviews or round-ups

Another option for your barnacle strategy is to get linked on another site’s review or roundup articles. It’s common for industry websites to offer these type of mention-rich articles, including:

Make the most of these types of mentions by publishing your own reviews or working to partner with other blogs to be a part of their round-ups. 

5. Guest blogging on top sites and publishing platforms 

Guest posting is an excellent way to strengthen your SEO strategy, get more traffic and build your brand authority. You can start with big publishing platforms such as Medium. However, you might have just as much success with smaller niche sites. Identify top-ranking websites in your market and reach out to propose writing a guest post. 

6. Social media platforms and mentions

Finally, social media platforms can increase your brand authority and build a wider network of potential customers. Posting regularly and participating in conversations can elevate your brand reputation and get you more site visitors. It’s a must for any advanced Barnacle SEO plan.

How to take advantage of Barnacle SEO

Step 1: Identify opportunities by doing keyword research on who’s ranking the highest. 


First off, you’ll want to understand which sites are ranking highest for your potential keywords. You can use tools such as Google Search, Ahrefs, Buzzstream and Twitter in order to plug in your target keyword and find out who’s topping the lists. From there, you can start digging into potential barnacle opportunities.

Step 2: Reach out or follow instructions to get listed or linked.

Get in touch with these sites to either get listed or create a partnership. This could be as simple as filling in a company profile, sending a message about a guest posting proposal or commenting on a relevant forum. 

Step 3: Provide a valuable profile or content piece.

Don’t forget to add value when building barnacles. Users will sniff out sites that are too pushy or marketing-heavy. Simply create a user-focused profile, content piece or comment so that potential customers can see your value.

Step 4: Promote your barnacles.

Strengthen your barnacles by promoting them. You can use media (such as videos, infographics, memes or gifts) to add interest, as well as share them on your social media channels. Staying active will help your barnacle content latch on for good!

Step 5: Monitor your efforts and keep iterating.

Find out what’s working and not, so you can make improvements and keep moving forward. Measure your success by looking at page analytics, or other metrics such as new customers. There’s no one way to build barnacles, so don’t be afraid of trial and error.

Diversify your SEO with barnacles

Barnacle SEO is a key step in any digital marketing strategy. If you know certain highly competitive keywords are too tough with your marketing budget, you can use the Barnacle SEO technique to connect with top-ranking sites – and boost your brand while you’re at it. 


If you’re not sure how to get started with barnacles, lean on our SEO expertise. Here at Embarque, we work with brands to identify opportunities for Barnacle SEO. Get in touch with our team today so we can start elevating your brand!