I learned a new term today – Barnacle SEO. It’s not really new, because it’s a technique I’ve used many times. I just didn’t know what it was called. The term was first coined in 2010, but the site that published it has since shut down.

Barnacle SEO is what happens when you look at the current search results for your target keyword and determine that getting your own site to rank for that word is a lost cause. Then, you look again. You realize that although you can’t rank in Google directly, the top ranking sites could include your site. These are typically top 10 lists or “best of” lists that are in your niche. Assuming your site is a good fit for the list, you can contact the site owner and ask how to get your site included.
If your proposal is accepted and your site is added to the list, you’ve successfully become a “barnacle” on that site. Hence the term Barnacle SEO. It’s great.
When I use this technique, I usually have an affiliate program on the site that I’m trying to drive traffic to. The reason for this is I’ve found that the site owner has a hard time saying no when they could make a few dollars from including your link in their list.