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How To Do Barnacle SEO [VIDEO]

Have you ever noticed that a ton of directories and 3rd party sites show up in a lot of the automotive searches in your city? That’s one of the results of last summer’s Pigeon update. While all of your competitors are still sitting around whining about the fact that there are fewer spots on page one of Google than ever before, you can use Barnacle SEO to take advantage of the directory sites!

This week’s Wednesday Workshop video explains the concept of Barnacle SEO and then walks you through exactly how to do it. Learn how to target both types of barnacle opportunities – getting your listing on another site to rank well in searches, or getting your listing to show up well in internal searches on a site that shows up well.


Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop with DealerOn! This week we’re going to talk about Barnacle SEO. The term was coined way back in 2008 by Will Scott, a really smart Local SEO expert who runs an agency in New Orleans. It’s called Barnacle SEO because you’re basically attaching your business to a larger, more powerful site and catching the traffic as it drifts by, just like a barnacle.

The strategy came back into the spotlight after last summer’s Pigeon update. After Google rolled out the update, it was obvious that the new algorithm heavily favored directory sites. You probably noticed that in most automotive searches, at least half of the results are AutoTrader,, Car Gurus, and other big classified sites. It really sucks that Pigeon took away page one slots from dealers and reassigned them to bigger sites – but while your competitors are whining about it, you can use Barnacle SEO and take advantage of it!

Check out a few of the searches you’re targeting, and take note of the directory sites that are showing up on page one. Could be classified sites, local business directories, or even your manufacturer’s “find a local dealer” page. Those are the sites you’re going to target.

There are 2 strategies when it comes to Barnacle SEO:
Get a page on another site that’s about your dealership to rank well, or be at the top of the rankings IN the site that ranks well.

Check this out – here’s a search for “auto repair” in Dallas that shows both opportunities. You can get your dealership to rank high in the list of local repair shops on Yelp, AND you can get your dealership’s actual Yelp page to rank. Those two barnacle opportunities are the #1 and #2 organic result – it’s highly unlikely that any dealership or auto repair shop will ever outrank Yelp – but if you use Barnacle SEO, you’ll effectively claim the #1 and #2 spots on page one.

You’re probably thinking, ok, great Greg – but how to I actually DO it?

Obviously, you need to make sure you’ve got listings on the sites that are showing up. You also need to be sure you’ve got a Facebook page and YouTube channel set up, and make sure both are optimized.

Next, you need to optimize the heck out of those pages. Pick the right categories. Write an awesome description. Fill out everything you can. Upload photos.
The final step is the toughest – you’ve got to “activate” each page. Get reviews there, get friends/followers, get shares, even build a few links to those pages.

So that’s how you do Barnacle SEO – Even if you already rank high for most of your target terms, it’s a great way to get some additional traffic and leads.
Thanks for stopping by to check out this week’s DealerOn Wednesday Workshop. If you’ve got any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Just pop down below and leave your questions in the comments section, and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can. Don’t forget to check back next week for another DealerOn Wednesday Workshop!

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

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