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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
Here are a few tools that can expedite the skyscraper process.
Content Discovery Tools
- Google Trends
Designed for journalists, Google Trends lets you track patterns in search behavior over time.
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 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 is best for finding email addresses in a jiffy.
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.
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
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.