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Why ‘Barnacle SEO’ Could Be The Answer In An Ocean Of Local Search Results

Here we show you how you can use what's known as 'Barnacle SEO' to make the most of Google's latest algorithm update, currently named 'Pigeon',

First of all, I’m sure your reaction is “what on earth is Barnacle SEO, have you made that up?” - don’t go checking the calendar, it isn’t April the 1st, this is in fact a real tactic in Search Marketing.

Next, some background:

Google’s New ‘Pigeon’ Update

It would appear that Google has recently updated their search algorithm, they’ve confirmed as much, and although they haven’t internally named it Search Engine Land has taken it upon themselves to attribute it to everyone’s favourite flying rodent - the pigeon. It’s a great name, for reasons that will become apparent.

So what has this latest update done? Google has received a lot of flak from directory sites such as Yelp! and others that they were purposefully manipulating rankings to show directories lower in search results below their own listings. The search giant has therefore amended their local algorithm to ensure that where users request them (such as including ‘Yelp’ in their search), these sites will be shown at the top of the pile.

Pigeon suddenly makes more sense now doesn’t it? - although they may not be the prettiest way to get listings for your site or business, they sure do get everywhere. At least it makes sense to me anyway.

So what does this mean for you?

Currently, the change is only affecting local searches in the US - hence mentions of Yelp and other American style listings sites. But this is sure to hit the UK at some point in the future, and we hope to give you a proper heads up. Finally, you’re thinking, now we have an explanation for all this ‘Barnacle SEO’ speak.

‘Barnacle SEO’ is a tactic that is employed by search marketers that involves “attaching oneself to a large fixed object and waiting for the customers to float by in the current.” according to Will Scott at Search Influence. Enough with the nautical parasites and metaphors though.

The process of ‘Barnacle SEO’ is inextricably linked to directory sites, as you optimise your site listing on a large and trusted directories domain and wait for search traffic to discover you through this avenue. If correctly done, you could really benefit from some high quality, and locally relevant, search traffic to your site - although these will obviously come through as referrals.

When you do this you’ll have the benefit of being attributed with a trusted brand, which includes a whole mess of social proof like reviews and the like, so what’s not to like? They’re often responsive too, so if your own site isn’t quite mobile friendly yet you can capture those that are searching through their smartphones - one in four of us apparently.

Three steps to optimised directory listings

With this change in the algorithm set to hit, now is the time to make sure your directory listings are completely up to date and as ‘optimised’ as possible to drive relevant and valuable local traffic to your site.

Thanks to Search Engine Land, there’s a quick and easy three step process to making your site’s listings top notch:

  1. First of all, check the sites in your area that consistently rank in the top local results for your sector and its related search terms - e.g: ‘restaurants in Norwich’

  2. Make sure your listings are the best they can possibly be. Include pictures of your business, and any other information you feel is relevant and may encourage users to click. The copy that you include doesn’t necessarily have to be keyword optimised, just make sure it’s really engaging.

  3. As with any site, having links to it is a bonus. Link to your listing yourself, and see if you can get others to do so as well!

You may think that working on your own site should be enough for local search, but with authoritative domains offering valuable space on their sites like this, it is always worth making the best of your listings. Brands like Yelp, Yell, and others are well established with Google and as such have a great deal of links to their domain proving they are relevant for all sorts of local searches. With these three steps, you could quickly be on the road to better local visibility, and even improved listings for your business - so be sure to think about your ‘Barnacle SEO’.

If you think you might need a hand getting your barnacles sorted, our search experts are always up to date with the latest tricks of the trade, so get in touch today!