Barnacle SEO is a term coined by Will Scott of Search Influence. The idea that Will is trying to illustrate is that you and your brand can grow while attaching yourself to a larger “fixed object” and passively collecting the benefits.
Like a barnacle, your website can benefit and thrive based on where and what it is attached to. Maybe you’ve been trying and trying, but you just can’t gain any ground on certain keywords. Or, maybe these keywords are outside of what we are specifically targeting and they aren’t going to have a huge impact on your rankings. Barnacle SEO tactics would call for you to gain an inbound link from a site that is already ranking high for those difficult keywords. Then, as people visit these related sites, people follow the links to your site. Eventually, these passive visits will positively affect your rankings… and maybe even convert!
In conclusion, Barnacle SEO begins with an awareness of not who you are competing with, but who you are surrounded by. Look for websites that relate to your site, but don’t directly compete with your site. Analyze these sites and their social media usage. Look at who they are linked to and who they are social with. Then, look at who they are linked to and who they are social with. At every stage of your research, stop and think of how you could gain a link, build an alliance, or be social. After all, everyone is looking for free content, referrals, and someone to help spread their message.