Small businesses can often find it hard to promote themselves via digital marketing when surrounded by high competition, expensive keywords and little room for first page presence. For businesses facing these challenges, the technique of Barnacle SEO offers excellent potential for penetrating the much valued and sought-after front page.

Barnacle SEO is a term first coined back in 2008 by Will Smith at the SMX Local Expo and is extremely useful for those branching into local SEO tactics. This method involves latching oneself onto a larger entity in order to draw benefit from their exposure – hence the likening to a barnacle. Dependant on industry, there are a variety of ways a business can do this with a straight-forward process.

Start by analysing the top keywords you will struggle to compete against – whether it’s because you’re a small fish in a big pond, or the cost for PPC is unfeasible. Once this information has been collated, it’s time to make a list of the companies who rank well against the chosen keywords – these are the entities which we’re going to attempt attaching onto like a barnacle.

Creativity is helpful in the next stage, as once keywords and well-ranking sites have been identified, it’s time to think about the different ways in which one can associate themselves. Dependant on industry, this may come easier to some over others, but nevertheless there is likely to be some sort of opportunity for pursuit.

For most service-based industries, directories can often be a good place to start – these sites are huge entities which index very well due to their constant updating and amount of content provided. If your business has a listing on a directory, start with claiming the business and then optimising all the fields they offer in order to maximise the potential impact. Equally, if there is a directory site without your details, look to sign-up and add in your business, highlighting every area possible. Other opportunities for attaching onto larger entities include engaging via social media, offering your expertise for publication and even purchasing advertising space on their page/offline publications, which in the long run may cost less than standard PPC.

Each well-performing competitor presents a unique opportunity for your local SEO strategy; once you have assessed the best way to engage in latching onto this entity, simply seek out, execute and reap the benefits of attaching yourself to a top performer.