It can be easy to overlook the importance of an end to end content strategy. The focus can be on creating great articles while neglecting the promotion process. 

Hoping to earn backlinks because a resource is well-written is not a strategy. 

While it may be true that “content is king,” don’t fall for the “if you build it, they will come” trap. 

Yes, excellent content organically garners backlinks. But for more effective SEO, marketers must first make a plan for topic selection and link building outreach. 

The Skyscraper Technique is a link building method that can bring precision to nearly any content strategy. It piggybacks on already successful content, taking the guesswork out of finding backlink opportunities. 

The Skyscraper Technique is simple: writers find a trending article, enhance it, and then promote their new version to the audience of the original piece. 

If all goes well, the marketer can recreate the link profile of the first successful article for their own website. 

Many marketers have found that targets are more receptive to this outreach strategy. When he coined the technique, Brian Dean from Backlinko claimed a remarkable 11 percent placement rate

The Skyscraper Technique can also increase traffic. Because it gathers backlinks quickly, it can increase search ranking in a shorter amount of time, driving traffic to the page. 

The method works because it takes a popular topic to greater heights. In other words, it seeks to better answer the questions people are already asking.

Why Does the Skyscraper Technique Work?

Even the best-written content can fail to gather links if readers don’t care about the topic. 

The Skyscraper Technique reduces this margin for error, allowing content creators to cherry-pick relevant topics, discover engaged audiences, and find niche backlink opportunities.

As long as the marketer conducts careful research and enhances the right article, they need not worry about missing the mark. 

This case study from SEO Nick illustrates why the Skyscraper Technique is so effective. 

As David Vallance argues, this method brings backlinks “that Google likes.” The links Vallance earned during his skyscraper experiment were long-lasting, natural, and placed on websites in his niche. 

After incorporating the Skyscraper Technique, Vallance saw a 72 percent increase in organic traffic to his article, even though site-wide organic growth hovered at 40 percent. 

Vallance and other marketers have concluded that, in the right circumstances, the Skyscraper Technique has legitimate value.

Ready to tackle the Skyscraper Technique? Use this comprehensive guide to launch your next campaign:

How to Conduct a Skyscraper Link Building Campaign

Many link building tactics can seem a bit thorny. In comparison, the Skyscraper Technique is wonderfully straightforward. Each step may require time and effort, but even a beginner can pick up the process.

Step 1: Find Your Topic

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To choose a topic, start by thinking about what keyword you want your pages to rank on

Search Engine Journal advises choosing a keyword related to your audience’s pain points.

Once you’ve selected your keyword, you can begin cultivating a list of potential topics. 

Try Google Trends to explore trending search queries, and set up a Google Alert to receive notifications whenever new content related to your keyword is published. 

Don’t revamp the first article that catches your eye. Instead, take the time to conduct analysis. 

Use tools like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to find the sweet spot: an article that 

(a) Ranks on your chosen keyword 

(b) Boasts 50 or more backlinks from unique domains, and 

(c) Needs some writerly improvement

Step 2: Make Your Version the Best Available

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After you’ve found the perfect article, it’s time to rewrite it until it’s actually perfect. 

Your goal is not to add a few paragraphs or bullet points here and there; your goal is to take something good and make it fantastic. 

Here are a few approaches you can try:

Update Old Information

If the article is a few years old, or if you write for a fast-paced industry, look for opportunities to explore more recent ideas. Include fresh statistics, reference new brands, and incorporate new concepts that may not have been available when the article was first published.

Make It Longer and Deeper

You can also take a short article and expand it with more relevant detail. Add items to a list, or break down an instructional article into a more thorough step-by-step guide. Be sure to add helpful content, not fluff. Otherwise, your version will be a less tempting linkable asset than the original article.  

Add Different Kinds of Content

Try diversifying the ways your audience can interact with the article. You can create a short video, a helpful infographic, or an industry-specific graph to accompany the transformed text. Even a “prettier” layout with better subtitles and graphics can take the content to the next level.

Step 3: Share It With the Right People

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Like any new blog post, begin promoting your article within your personal networks. Share it with your coworkers, friends, and existing social media. 

Next, perform a typical link outreach email campaign. Send your useful new article to authoritative and relevant sites as a helpful resource. Generally, niche blogs and influencers that have already linked to similar content will be most interested in your work.

Here’s the good part: the Skyscraper Technique includes a built-in targeted outreach list. Using tools like Ahrefs Site Explorer, export the list of unique domains that backlink to the original article. Then, reach out and request that they link to your superior content instead.   

If your version is truly more helpful, the site manager will be tempted to make the switch to stay relevant and better serve their audience. Even if they don’t swap the old link for yours, they might include your link on a different page.

Tools for Building Skyscraper Content

Here are a few tools that can expedite the skyscraper process. 

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Content Discovery Tools
  • Google Trends

Designed for journalists, Google Trends lets you track patterns in search behavior over time. 

  • BuzzSumo

Like Google Trends, this tool can also surface popular content and provide key metrics.

  • Social Media

Don’t underestimate the power of search features on Twitter or Facebook for topic discovery.

Content Creation Tools
  • Grammarly or Hemingway

These free online tools help writers craft concise, error-free copy. 

  • Canva

Canva is a beginner-friendly design platform that can help you pump out graphics, banner images, infographics, and more. 

List Building and Outreach Tools 
  • Majestic SEO, Ahrefs Site Explorer, or Ubersuggest

The bread and butter tools of link building, these platforms allow you to export lists of referring domains into a spreadsheet for further research and outreach. 

  • Hunter.io

Hunter is best for finding email addresses in a jiffy.

  • MailChimp

MailChimp, or any other email automation service, lets you draft outreach templates and segment your targeted lists. You can send your messages in bulk if that’s your style. 

Common Skyscraper Method Mistakes

Like any link building method, the Skyscraper Technique takes time, and it is not foolproof. 

Avoid choosing the wrong keyword. As Search Engine Journal warns, a bad keyword can sour an otherwise impeccable skyscraper campaign. Focus on your audience’s wants and needs to choose a keyword (and topic) that resonates.

The Skyscraper Technique is not recommended for new companies with limited brand awareness. You’ll need a reputation of credibility for others to believe your content can rival the best in the industry. Take time to build a solid portfolio of blogs and guest posts before aiming to upgrade an established resource. 

Finally, remember that link building takes time. Don’t expect to see immediate changes in your page rank. 

As Ahrefs explains, the Skyscraper Technique is “a link building strategy, not a sure-fire ranking strategy.” Still, with careful planning, this technique is an accessible and effective option for many link builders

Reach New Heights with the Skyscraper Technique

The Skyscraper Technique has a little bit of everything that SEOs love. Instead of scouring the internet for new blogs to reach out to, link builders can quickly gather qualified leads all they need to do is contact the sites that linked to the original article. 

Even better, this method gives writers the chance to flex their skills. Rather than encouraging hastily-drafted articles, it rewards those who create superb content. 

If you’re tired of broken link building or cranking out guest posts, give the Skyscraper Technique a try. Even if your piece doesn’t dethrone the best article in the industry, you could still earn several strong backlinks in the process.

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Erik Braunitzer,

Director of SEO

Erik is an SEO power house focused on advanced distribution tactics, technical on-page SEO, and content strategy.

Jon Lightfoot,

VP of Strategy

Jon Lightfoot was founder and CEO of a successful chemical and fragrance company. Upon exiting that role he spent more than a decade agency side and several years brand side wherein he honed robust marketing, strategy and data intelligence acumen. Jon’s strategic marketing initiatives have stewarded healthcare providers, agencies, learning and education based companies, eComm and Fortune 500 companies alike in meeting or exceeding their SEO, branding, performance and audience expansion goals.

Lindsey Sabado,

Content Production Specialist

Lindsey manages the day-to-day management of freelancer writers and editors as well as content production. In addition to holding two BAs in History and English from Binghamton University, she has a Masters in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Fun fact: Lindsey has traveled to 11 countries and it’s on her bucket list to visit every continent.

James Allen,

PureLinq Developer

James is the PureLinq Developer. He is responsible for building and maintaining the client portal.

Fun fact: James lived in Japan for five years.

April Rink,

Senior Content Manager

April’s position at PureLinq has her overseeing all content production, managing a team of freelance writers and editors, and building out our content guidelines. She has an MA in print and digital journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and a BA in Communication Studies and Marketing from Cazenovia College.

Fun fact: April basically runs a zoo with a pet rabbit named Lily and two Australian Shepards named June and Hank; chickens coming soon. She also likes to refurbish furniture in her spare time.

Marcus Larabee,

SEO Strategist

If it needs to get done, Marcus can figure it out. He has worked on e-commerce and lead generation programs for a variety of digital marketing projects. These experiences include SEO, PPC, web analytics, minor development, and email marketing.

Fun fact: Marcus, otherwise known as Larabee Live, is a one-man-band that plays all around Central New York.

Joseph Pineda,

Outreach Specialist

Joseph helps to scale up the PureLinq database through blogger research and outreach. He builds white-hat links for high-value content and pages with niche audiences.

Steven Szeliga,

Senior Outreach Specialist

Steve has over a decade of SEO and link building experience. He focuses on building white-hat links for high-value content and pages with niche audiences.

Colin Gacek,

Senior Outreach Specialist

Colin performs link mining and outreach for PureLinq’s clients and brings a high level of organization to manage a large number of link placements each month.

Fun fact: Colin loves techno music and playing video games.