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Ride Search Directories to the Top! Using Barnacle SEO to Sell More Cars


When Google updates its algorithms, it does so with one objective in mind: to give its users the best and most relevant search results.

And when they updated their Pigeon algorithm last year, they made a change that gave directory sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Facebook more authority and a larger presence in the SERPS. For many dealers, this meant discovering that their social media accounts were now ranking higher (sometimes pages higher) than their website.

Though you should always hope for your website to show up first in the search results, this initial disappointment serves up a lesson—and an opportunity.

Rising to the top of the sea of search results by latching onto a directory site as a barnacle sticks to a ocean liner isn’t just a clever and relatively simple and cost effective way to market your dealership, it’s a must. Its lessons are the essence of SEO.

If you’re not entirely convinced, let’s looks at the math. Greg Gifford at AutoRevo explains this for Local SEO, and the same principles apply.


Let’s assume that there are 20 used car dealers and 2 new car dealers actually in your suburb.  There are 17 spots on page one of Google if you count the organic results and the map pack… but after the recent Pigeon update, there are a lot of directories showing up. After we remove the directory spots, that leaves 11 or 12 possible spots.

22 dealers – 12 spots = 10 dealers that won’t be on page one, just in your suburb…

But, you obviously want to target the larger metro area to bring in more search traffic. There are 8 suburbs in your metro, so let’s adjust the math:

22 dealers x 8 cities = 176 dealers

But, we also need to account for the dealers that are in the main city in your metro area. Since it’s a much bigger city, let’s conservatively say that there are three times as many dealerships there. Now, our equation looks like this:

22 dealers x 11 cities = 242 dealers

That’s 242 dealers fighting for the 12 spots on the first page of Google search results – which means 230 dealers won’t make it to page one.


He omits the directories in his thought experiment, but we don’t want to overlook their marketing potential. If you can ride on the backs of sites like Yelp—your sherpas guiding you up to the rocky peaks of the search mountains, if you don’t appreciate seafaring analogies—then you give lost car shoppers another way to find you before they find your competition.

If they can’t find you, they can’t buy from you. To top it off, back-linking from these directory sites to your dealer website helps to increase your dealer site’s ranking, too.

Now that we know why it’s important, how do we add our brand to those sites?

Perhaps you unknowingly have accounts on these directory sites, you just haven’t claimed them. Go to the site and search for your business name; if you show up, select your site and you should see something like this:



Just click to claim and you’ve got your account. If you can’t find an account under your business name, you will need to create an account. Most sites will have a sign-up button in the top menu.


Now that you have your account, you want to optimize. Here’s how:

  • Make sure your business name and address are correct.
  • Make sure the account URL is directed to your website.
  • Make sure your location shows up where it ought to in the map listings.
  • Add your business logo as well as some pictures of your dealership.
  • Add a description of what your business does. Use the description to focus on things that might distinguish you from other dealers.


For sites that allow you to post or share with the public, you should try to add content regularly. If you are strapped for time, try to add something at least once every few weeks. These can be specials, community event and sponsorships, testimonials, etc. The important thing is that to the directory sites, your account appears active.

Need at list of the sites we are referring to specifically?


Barnacle SEO is just another tool in your online marketing tool belt that can help you capture more leads and sell more cars. Around 97% of car buyers are going online to research their next car. Are you spending your time in the right areas?

Citation Management, EAT (Authority), Off-Page SEO Tactics

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