Content marketing has been on the rise for some time now. As a result, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to capture the attention of your target audience. Are you experiencing more and more problems to deliver your content to meet your leads and customers expectations? Do you need to spend more and more advertising budget to get that traffic in?
As a result of, this battle for attention, content marketers are getting more and more creative. They start to experiment with new mediums to place their content; anyone tried Anchor yet? They start to varying their approaches the bring in that consistent flow of leads. From listicles to infographics, to video content, to podcasts. You need to come up with new types of content that resonate with your audience.
Only the fittest brands survive. Brands need to turn into a chameleon, not a dinosaur to stay relevant for their audiences.
So what can you do to remain relevant in the content marketing game? Try the Skyscraper Technique.
“It’s human nature to be attracted to the best.”
— Brian Dean (Backlinko.com)
That’s why the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa) attracts almost 2 million visitors per year. The Skyscraper Technique (coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko.com) is a content-driven link building technique that takes advantage of this. It is designed to help you create content that drives traffic and helps you keep driving traffic.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the technique and show you, how you can use it for your business to get that evergreen traffic arriving at your front door.
What Is the Skyscraper Technique?
Brian Dean first coined the phrase “Skyscraper technique” on his blog. And it’s a system for turning content into high-quality backlinks. The Skyscraper technique works as follows:
You start by researching popular trends, topics, and other substantially shared pieces of existing content around the themes that you’re typically covering. You can use BuzzSumo for this, for example. After you identified these pieces of content, you’re going to look for a new and unique way to create content that talks communicate a similar message… only with a twist.
That twist is to take what’s out there and blow it out of the water.
You can do this by making it longer, more up-to-date, better designed, more thorough. But whatever you do, it needs to tower above the competition.
After you had created your new and improved piece of content, you reach out to everyone that shared the original article (again BuzzSumo is perfect for this) to put your piece of content on their radar… and hopefully earn a link back to your content.
Sounds simple right? The reason though why this technique is working is:
- As you can see from all the shares from the original content, there is already a demand for that topic. You’ve established the need for that particular type of theme, and the way it helps solves their reader’s problems.Based on this topic it is important to figure out why that individual piece of content was so successful. Did it solve a problem the readers were having? Was it entertaining? Was it scientific?
- You have the chance to excite an existing audience. If the topic you selected it timed well and you’ve created that piece of content that blows the original out of the water, there is a high probability they want to share this too.Make sure to built a list of brands, publications and influencers who linked to or shared the original piece so you can reach out to them straight after your publication.
- Because of all the shares and links to the original article, Google has likely indexed the existing piece of content already. If you create something that’s even better, you have the potential to outrank the original article and steal all their traffic.Especially if you reach out to everyone and they replace their links from the original content to your content.
So this one simple technique can help you to:
- build high-quality content that is useful for your readers
- increase your social shares
- increase your overall backlinks to your blog posts
- increase your blog comments
- increase your authority
- increase your blog exposure
- increase your overall blog traffic from search engines
- build strong relationships with other bloggers
Isn’t that something we all want?
The beginner’s guide to using the Skyscraper technique to build quality links
The Skyscraper Technique is an absurdly simple system. In fact, you can break it down into three simple steps:
- Find some link-worthy content
- Make something better
- Outreach your content to the right people
That’s all there is to it. Find something good, make it so good that it blows the competition out of the water and show it to the right people. Let’s dive into the three steps in more details.
Step 1: Find some link-worthy content
It all start with a Content Marketing strategy; maybe we should add a step 0? But when you’ve sat down and written your Content Marketing strategy it makes it easier for you to identify link-worthy content.
As you know by now, the goal of the Skyscraper Technique is to create content so awesome, so incredible and so useful that people can’t help themselves to link and share it. So you need to find content that is already performing great in your niche.
By focusing on “viral content ideas”, you’re ready to rock those Google search results. So what do you need? How can you find a list of shareable and link worthy content in your niche? You can start by using any of the following tools.
- BuzzSumo (to find the highly shareable topic ideas around your niche)
- ahrefs Content Explorer (this also give you social metrics and onsite metrics to find better topics in any industry)
- Visual.ly (a high-quality infographic directory, sort by views, this way you get the most popular infographics)
- Google News and Google Alerts(search for a keyword and see what journalists and popular sites are discussing, by setting alerts you get emails when something is found)
- Moz Open Site Explorer (for finding top pages with more links to your competitor sites)
- Google’s top 10 results for your keywords
You can use any of the above tools, and once you’ve identified a list of several of the top performing topic ideas in your industry, you’re ready to go to the next step.
Let’s give an example on how to use BuzzSumo to get the content you can use for step two.
- Go to BuzzSumo.
- Enter a keyword related to your audience (e.g. “content marketing”). This will give you a list of the most shared content in your niche for the last year
- Select “Export” > “CSV” to download a .csv file with all the different articles it found
- Next step is to open the .csv file in your favourite spreadsheet program. We use Google Sheets here at Inbound Rocket, but feel free to use Excel or Open Office.
- Copy the first 200 URL’s
- Go to the aHrefs Batch Analysis tool; you can use a trial account if you want and paste the 200 URL’s in the tool
- Click “Start Analysis”. This will give you a list of the 200 URLs together with various metrics, the most important one here is the “Referring Domains” (i.e. backlinks):
- Click “Export” to download the data as a .csv file:
- Open the .csv file using your favourite spreadsheet program again
- You can safely delete all columns except for “Target” (i.e. page URLs) and “Domains (desc)” (i.e. referring domains).
This is your list of articles you want to focus on, of course, try to only concentrate on the links with the most referring domains because these are the ones which are the most important.
Step 2: Make something better
The next thing to do is have a look at the articles that made the cut in the previous step. Try looking into each item and figure out what makes them so special, why are they so good that everyone else is linking to them?
What is the average content length of the articles? How many images are they using? What are some of the specific keywords or key phrases they are using throughout the content?
When you better understand what makes those posts such good ranking articles, it makes it easier to assess to yourself how you can make it better.
There are four different ways on which you can improve existing content. If you want to blow the competition out of the water, you need to be better at all four points. But as a bare minimum, you need to improve in at least one of these four categories. Can you:
- Make the content longer? In some cases, publishing an article that is longer or a listicle that has more items will simply do the trick. For example, if you find an article talking about “10 Content Marketing Ideas to help you get started”, you can publish a list with “100 Content Marketing Ideas to help you get started” (or maybe even 500 ideas).
- Make the content more up-to-date? If you take an existing piece of research done some time ago, you can redo the research and fix it up to today’s information, and you could have a winning piece.
- Make a better-designed piece of content? Something that is visually way more appealing than an ugly piece of content that takes forever to load and has broken images etc.
- Make an article more thorough? Most listicles are just that, a list of bullets without any real information explaining why they made a list. By not just going from 10 examples to 100 examples, but adding way more depth to each example, you’re creating a post that brings way more value to the reader.
When you feel comfortable with any of the pieces of content that you think that you can bring the most value to, the one that you can improve the most? Then you’ve found your piece of content that will form your “Skyscraper” content.
Now, you just need to create it and publish it 😉
Step 3: Outreach your content to the right people
Just like with publishing any article, what good will it do for your business if no one reads the article?
So while it’s tempting to celebrate after you finished publishing your newly created Skyscraper content, you’re not done just yet. Putting a piece of content up on your site and hoping that people will fit it, is sadly not a reality. You’ve got to promote it to your audience actively.
That’s why the last step is arguably the most important one. What techniques can you use to start promoting your content? Of course, the objective here is to have all the domains identified in step one adapt their links to point them to your article.
Email outreach is your friend.
And the reason why this will be so successful is, that you will be emailing people that have already shown interest in your topic, their site is targeted towards your niche, your buyers’ personas AND they’ve already linked to an article on that topic.
Below is a quick email template you can use for reaching out:
Subject: Hi [NAME], I just read your article “[ARTICLE TITLE]”
I’m a long time reader of your site, ever since I read “[OLD POST TITLE]”.
I just wanted to let you know that in your article “[POST TITLE](LINK)” you link to one of my favourite articles ever: “[NAME OF ARTICLE](LINK).
I absolutely love that resource.
You know what? I actually set out to make something similar: [YOUR URL].
It’s like [ARTICLE NAME], but more up to date and comprehensive. You may want to consider linking to my article from your page.
Either way, I’ll see you around at [SITE NAME] and I’ve also shared the post to our following on Twitter.
Have a great day,
One of the easiest ways to do the outreach is by using tools like MailShake, which makes it easy to create a template like the one here and send out all the emails at once.
Now you try it
Over time, the usefulness of your fantastic piece of content will decline. Others might try to do the same and publish an article that blows yours out of the water.
Continuously updating your content so that it stays relevant to your niche is crucial if you want to be on the first sets of search results. Make sure to revisit all your content on a regular basis and see how you can improve it to keep being the best resource available.
Have you tried the Skyscraper Technique? Share your experiences in the comments section below.