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Barnacle SEO for Innkeepers - One Pigeon Survival Tactic

Two purple ships, one floating and one sinkingRecently you may have received an E-Mail or two warning that, due to the recent Pigeon algorithm change, if you are not participating in certain directory sites, you face the prospect of your business closing and yourself going bankrupt.

Well, needless to say, we are a bit concerned that such statements could cause widespread panic, fear and a willingness to do whatever you can do, according to the E-Mail, to eliminate such a grim outcome on your future!

In light of pretty much every Local Placement expert's advice to just keep doing what you know are best practices (quality, fresh content, clean NAP+W, social media, gathering quality reviews, cleaning up your inbound links, making sure your Google Business listing is claimed, verified and completed, etc.), we felt we really needed to take a moment and explain the concept of "Barnacle SEO" for the marketing Innkeeper.

As you probably know, barnacles are crustaceans that adhere themselves to surfaces in the ocean, and from there, permanently live and feed on particles drifting by. "Barnacle SEO" is so named because it's the practice of connecting your website to bigger, more authoritative site (such as directories) so that customers will drift over you, like the particles upon which real barnacles feed.

Here's a description from Search Engine Land:

"Barnacle SEO is the practice of attaching yourself to the “SEO authority” of larger sites and letting business drift on over to you. Now that Pigeon has bumped up directories in the local listings, there are more barnacle opportunities than ever.  Check your important keywords and see which directories are showing up now. Make sure you’re listed on those directories, and make sure your listings are completely filled out and optimized. Sure, they’re not the same as getting website visitors, but with the directories now taking over local results, you’ll still get more customer eyeballs."

So, how do you figure out what directory sites have authority for your area?

  • Step 1: Start by clearing your cache and cookies on your browser so you get clean results.
  • Step 2: In the Google search box enter your main local search phrase (See Example Below)
  • Step 3: Search through and document the results for directories that rank well for that phrase.

Example: Asheville Bed and Breakfast (City + Bed + Breakfast, etc.)

In my search today for Asheville Bed and Breakfast, I found the following organic directory listings in the following order on page 1 of the SERPS.

  • TripAdvisor
  • Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association (a local B&B association)
  • Romantic Asheville (an online travel guide)
  • Explore Asheville (chamber of commerce and CVB)

These listings were followed by several individual inn listings, then:

  • (on page 2)
  • (a community guide on page 3)

If I were an Innkeeper in the Asheville are, I would want to make sure I was listed in all of those directories, and that my listings were filled out 100%, had great photos (if allowed), and had all correct information, etc.

That, in a nutshell, is Barnacle SEO!

The main thing is to make sure you know which directories are ranking well for your local search phrases, rather than paying for directories that may not have much impact on your specific geographic area.

Please, be careful putting too much credence in alarmist predictions - just keep doing what you know you're supposed to be doing to execute your marketing plan, make sure you are listed on the top directories for your area, and keep watching our blog for future Pigeon updates!

Updated to add: Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association is an association which selects their membership. It is NOT open enrollment.

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