Are you finding it difficult to rank your website? While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to generate targeted traffic, it is also challenging. You have to navigate the technical aspects of SEO, constantly go up against competitors, and deal with the ever-changing algorithms. Everything becomes so much harder if you’re working with a limited amount of resources.
If you’re looking for a different way to see results with your SEO efforts, then the skyscraper technique is something you should try. This is a strategy that utilizes content marketing by building upon content that already works. Because you’re basing your content on what the audience already resonates with, there’s less of a chance that your marketing campaign will fail. Let’s get into the finer details.
The technique was created and coined by Backlinko’s Brian Dean; the idea behind this was to create content designed to generate high-quality backlinks. Everything starts by looking for popular content related to your business. This can be anything from articles, forum posts, editorials, infographics, guides, to videos and more. Fundamentally, though, you want content with high engagement (views, likes, shares, and comments).
Once you’ve found the content, just be sure to refrain from using techniques like spinning content (where words and sentences are rearranged) or copying the existing content. Creating high-quality content should be a priority to your strategy. What’s surprising is that you’ll often find a lot of content that has performed well, but wasn’t researched or written as well as it could have been. This usually means that there is an opportunity there to utilize the skyscraper technique.
So, focus on the purpose of the content and create your own version of it. Rather than making it a thinly veiled duplicate of the original, you want expansion, improvement, and possibly, an approach from a different angle altogether. The point is that you want to make it better. Still, make sure that the topic stays aligned with the original since the audience has already proven to resonate with it.
After you’ve done your research and created a new piece of content related to the original, you can start looking for link partners. Use an SEO research tool to find websites that have linked to the original article in the first place. From there, launch an outreach campaign asking these websites if they’d like to offer your content to their audience.
The outreach letter can be something like this:
An alternative message can include an attachment to your updated or expanded article on the topic. The idea here is to offer a better version to the website owner that linked to the original article.
While this technique seems simple, there are several reasons why it works:
Reason #1: The Website Owner Already Likes the Topic
If the website owner is linking to the content, then that site owner probably likes the topic. At the very least, it’s clear that this is an important topic to present to the site owner’s audience. This means you can avoid the whole situation where you’re trying to push your idea to the site owner. The site owner is already sold, so why not simply offer something better?
Reason #2: The Audience Has Reacted Well to the Content
There’s a reason why people are reacting to the content. It touched on a topic or subtopic that is important to the target audience. So, don’t dismiss the original content even if it wasn’t written as well as it should have. Take a deeper look into what elements the audience is truly resonating with. These same elements should be present in your content.
Reason #3: The Site Owner Wants the Best for the Target Audience
Most website owners will want to offer the best possible content and resources to their audience. If you’ve done a great job in making a better version of the original content, there’s no logical reason why the site owner wouldn’t want to replace the original link or add a link to your page for the target audience. Simply put, your interests are aligned.
Now that you understand the strategy, how do you actually improve on the original? Here are some simple solutions:
1. Make It More Comprehensive
If the original content merely touched on the topic, why not do one better? Create a more comprehensive version that offers more value to the target audience. For example, if writing about a pre-flight checklist, how about adding a guide that also offers advice on saving time. And while you’re at it, why not also list other important points that the original checklist had missed?
2. Appeal to Different Audiences
One thing you may notice is that there are always multiple groups within a larger audience. For instance, a digital marketing article about creating a Facebook advertising strategy may have been written for the average business owner. But what if the reader has recently launched a startup, what if the reader is looking to scale, and what if they have a very small budget? You can easily create different sections within audience groups so that the content has a more specific appeal.
3. Offer More Resources
Are you able to expand on the original article? Can you add more to the topic in a way that enhances its value? Some creative ways to increase value include using case studies, integrating charts/statistics, adding related resources (tools, software, guides, etc.), and creating an updated guide. Think about what you can do to really enhance the original topic.
4. Create a Different Format
If the original content is text only but has very detailed instructions, it might be smart to create a different format. For example, an infographic, visual guide or video may help improve the understanding of the topic. The perfect example of this is a guide that shows people how to tie a tie in different ways. It’s usually more helpful for people to visualize the process than to read text-based instructions.
5. Take a Different Stance
If the original is more like an editorial or opinionated blog post, you can create a piece that takes a different stance. If you see website owners are trying to help their audience understand the situation, they’ll be more than happy to offer your content as a resource. It helps convey to their audience that they are taking a balanced approach to the topic.
Now that you have a strong understanding of the skyscraper technique, construct a plan to put it into action. Here’s a brief guide on implementation.
1. Use the Right Research Tools to Find Content
There are many ways to find content to build on. If you like jumping on trending topics, you can use Google Alerts to notify you of content related to your business. If you want to look for winning content ideas directly, BuzzSumo is an incredibly effective tool. It will populate results based on keywords and social media engagement metrics. Another great way is to study online forums to see what conversations are popular.
2. Use Tools to Reverse-Engineer Link Partners
Now, you can build a list of potential link partners. Ahrefs has a handy tool to check backlinks for a specific page. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of free ones available out there. It also helps to think organically about link partners. Find popular websites in your market/industry. It’s possible that they have covered the topic already.
3. Create Your Content
This is where you create your content. There’s nothing too special about this process. Just make sure that your content is of high quality. As mentioned earlier, think about how to be creative with your content. You don’t have to do anything dramatic; simply figure out a way to enhance the original content.
4. Get Some Juice for Your Content
Don’t just let your content sit there on your website. Run some promotions for it to show link partners that it’s worth linking to. Publish it in your email newsletter, blog, and social media accounts. It might even help to advertise your content to help it generate organic links and social signals.
5. Reach Out to Potential Link Partners
Finally, it’s time to start emailing potential link partners. You can use the email format that was discussed earlier in this guide, but be sure to customize each email so that your attempt doesn’t come off as spam. The additional effort can make a big difference and help you be noticed.
Are you excited about trying the skyscraper technique? While not a fail-proof technique, it can help you get much more out of your SEO campaign. Many marketers have gotten hundreds, even thousands of backlinks by using this strategy. There’s no reason why you can’t experience similar results!