What Exactly is the Skyscraper Technique in Link Building?

5 months ago

By Owen Baker in Linking Strategies SE Optimization Website Traffic

Link building is one of the core tenets of search engine optimization (SEO). These days, you must implement a robust, high quality linking strategy if you want to rank well in organic search results.

Links serve a variety of purposes for SEO. Backlinks help search engines rank your content and, by extension, your website for trustworthiness, authoritativeness, and reliability. Google’s penchant for continually redefining what it considers manipulative and unnatural SEO tactics has shed even more light on the importance of high-quality backlinks as part of SEO.

While there are many other prominent link building techniques, this guide will focus on the skyscraper technique. We will define the concept, talk about its importance and best use cases, and examine some tips and best practices for proper implementation of the skyscraper technique.

The Skyscraper Technique Explained

The skyscraper technique was discovered and named by the backlinking expert Brian Dean in 2015 as a method for online brands and businesses to promote their expertise through great content and high-quality links. While it employs some of the basic elements of backlinking, the skyscraper method does things slightly differently.

The technique starts with sourcing a credible, reliable, and popular content topic from a niche related to yours. The next step is creating and publishing a better article or blog post on that same topic on your website and promoting your content to high-value platforms to replicate the same backlinking success as the article from which you drew inspiration. 

The skyscraper technique might sound simple, but it isn’t. The successful implementation of this technique rests on the natural attraction that we have towards the best of anything. Therefore, your content has to stand out and offer real value to readers for the technique to attract quality backlinks and be optimally effective.

Why You Should Use the Skyscraper Technique

In 2018, ValueWalk identified the top marketing priorities revealed by a group of global marketing professionals. It revealed that the top five priorities were:

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As we can see, growing SEO and organic presence were chief among the priorities that these marketing professionals identified. Blog content creation came in second, and content distribution and amplification came third.

The skyscraper technique is an invaluable tool for achieving all three of those goals. By boosting the reputation of your website’s content, it can help grow your ranking in Google’s search results for keywords or phrases related to your niche. 

Simultaneously, by building high-quality backlinks using the skyscraper method, your expertise can reach readers looking for reputable information resources, thereby increasing the distribution and amplification of your content.

Finally, the skyscraper technique can also help you overcome the creative blocks associated with figuring out what topics to write about and the keywords for which you want to rank. Remember, you’ll have to undertake research to find articles in your niche that have a strong backlink profile. This research should give you an idea of what to write about and how to craft unique and high-quality articles. 

To summarize, the skyscraper technique is an invaluable tool in any content marketer’s arsenal. When executed skillfully, it can help drive website traffic through SEO, boost lead generation and conversion efforts, and increase sales.

How to Apply the Skyscraper Technique to Link Building

Much like any other marketing method, the skyscraper technique requires a systematic approach for proper execution. In this section, we will examine the steps you should take to strategize, develop, and promote skyscraper content that will drastically improve the number and quality of backlinks to your website.

Find the Topics You Want to Cover

First, you’ll need to find content that has been successful on the internet and create your own content around the same topic that is of higher quality. That means finding relevant content with lots of backlinks but, at the same time, plenty of room for improvement.

An SEO SpyGlass page showing the backlink performance of an article on Google My Business

The screenshot above shows one method of researching topics to write about. I wanted to see how guides to Google My Business performed online. From the screenshot, it’s clear to see that the HubSpot article on the same topic performed extremely well, having received more than 1,400 backlinks to date. Tools like SEO SpyGlass and Ahrefs are useful here. 

From the backlinking side of things, this article would make an excellent candidate for skyscraper content. But I’d also have to determine if there are areas I can improve, such as adding updated information, more detailed explanations, clearer examples, and so on. 

If you come across a piece of content that is so high quality and comprehensive that there is no realistic way to improve upon it, move on to the next idea. 

If there are tangible areas wherein the article falls short, you have a topic for your first piece of skyscraper content. 

Look for Guest Posting Opportunities

This is the make or break part of skyscraper content development. Publishing the article on your website or blog and waiting for the backlinks to come naturally might take months. Therefore, you’ll need to be proactive here by finding guest posting opportunities.

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To find suitable guest posting opportunities on the most prominent online content platforms, you need a crisp and convincing article pitch. You’ll need to show editors your subject matter knowledge, communication skills, and the new information you’re looking to impart to their readers.

Backlinks aren’t handed freely – you need to earn them. If you can build a portfolio of guest posts that link back to the relevant article on your website, you’re already on your way to skyscraper content success. Remember, every backlink is an upvote that Google uses to determine how good your content is and, by extension, how high your website should rank.

A great place to start with sourcing guest posting opportunities is with an email list. The manual approach to finding and verifying these email addresses can be long and arduous, even when they are listed on the targeted guest post websites. An email lookup tool can speed up the process and ensure that your guest post requests are delivered.

Improve on Existing Content

Content marketers are often scared by the prospect of creating new content on topics that have been covered before. However, this doesn’t always mean writing a completely different article from scratch. If you already have a set of great ideas, all you need to do is find ways to work them into your brand new piece for added informational value.

Before writing skyscraper content, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the existing piece exhaustive, or is there space for even more value?
  • Are there more up-to-date pieces of research I can quote or link to?
  • Are there any discrepancies, irregularities, or contradictions in the text?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you have a take-off point for your skyscraper content. 

If you’ve chosen the route of providing a more detailed, more exhaustive piece of content, here are some elements you might wish to include to make it more comprehensive, readable, and informative: 

  • Lists and steps
  • Goals and explanations
  • Definitions
  • Examples and use cases
  • How-to’s and tips
  • Useful tools for specific goals
  • Templates

Keep Updating your Content So That it Stays Relevant

This is another aspect of skyscraper content that requires continual effort and commitment. The internet is an ever-changing landscape where information that is relevant today might well be outdated tomorrow. Therefore, for your piece to stay fresh and maintain its standing as skyscraper content, you have to ensure it is regularly updated.

As a savvy marketer, you should always write on topics in which you’re well versed. This should make it relatively easy to spot and correct outdated facts, references, and citations in the piece later on. For your article to remain as skyscraper content, it needs to be evergreen and supply constant value to readers.

You can also explore additional channels to improve your content’s reach and visibility. Social media channels like LinkedIn and Instagram are great for improving reach and promoting your work to a new audience. You can even use email marketing to encourage your existing subscribers to check out the article and share it. 

The bottom line

The skyscraper technique isn’t a guarantee of backlinking success, but it’s a tried and tested strategy that many marketers swear by. In order for you to achieve the desired results, your approach has to be strategic and expertly executed. 

When done correctly, this technique has been known to double organic traffic. Remember, marketing your content through guest posts is one of the surefire ways to start the snowball effect and build a high number of quality backlinks quickly. 

Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online email verification tool. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.

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