When's the last time you paid good money for a product that promised but didn’t deliver?
You know, a product that was all hat and no cattle.
All sizzle and no steak.
All icing and no cake.
It's a lousy feeling to realize you were duped into believing that you were getting the best.
But when someone shows you the tallest building in a city, there’s really no question that it's the best, is there?
Often, that tallest building stands head and shoulders above all the surrounding buildings.
It defines the skyline.
It is what it is.
People love that kind of proof that they've truly found something that's the best of its kind.
That’s the kind of real, visible proof you need to provide when you employ the Skyscraper Technique.
What Is the Skyscraper Technique?
Following this technique, your job is to find the best content in your topic (the tallest buildings in the city) and then produce a better version (build a building that's 10 floors taller) to make your article the best in your area (the new tallest building in the city).
And the goal of all this? The goal is to get backlinks.
In today's digital era, promoting your links is a challenge. After all, getting influencers to build backlinks for your website is an X-factor for boosting your search engine rankings—and everybody knows it.
Seriously, every day, content creators send thousands of spam emails to influencers to advertise their low-quality articles that usually don't satisfy the market's needs.
That's why I'm writing this guide to the Skyscraper Technique for SEO.
In this guide, I'll take you through a five-step strategy to apply the Skyscraper Technique on your website and consequently generate high-quality backlinks.
When your skyscraper content is complete and being shared by top influencers, you'll feel like you're on top of the world.
Hope you're not afraid of heights!
Step #1: Find Heavily-shared Content in Your Niche
Starting an outreach campaign to generate backlinks for your website requires a solid, linkable asset.
A linkable asset is the high-quality, shareable content that influencers can't wait to share with their audiences. It should be an ultimate, go-to resource on your target topic.
The question is, how do you create content that would make a good linkable asset?
It's simple. Find content that's already heavily shared in your industry, then create a better version that will bring more value to your audience.
Personally, I use Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find trending topics and then BuzzSumo to find the best blog posts my competitors have shared. So, I'll walk you through these steps with my favorite tools.
A. Discover popular topics in your niche with Keyword Planner
Keyword research is the foundation of any SEO strategy. It allows you to access the necessary insights (i.e., average monthly searches, competition level, etc.) about a set of keywords in your niche.
No matter how good your knowledge is in your niche, you'll need to do your research. The best tool? The trusty Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
To start your research, search for a term closely related to your niche in the Keyword Planner search bar and press the blue button "Get Ideas."
You'll be directed to the keyword ideas page. Here, you'll obtain a considerable amount of popular keywords along with their statistics...
Now it's time to pick up the right keywords.
You'll need to compare keywords based on their competition level, monthly searches and other factors that relate to your audience.
For the SEO content industry, you can select "SEO copywriting" as the topic you'll use for your Skyscraper Technique content...
This leads us to the next part...
B. Find heavily-shared articles with BuzzSumo
After you've selected keywords for the Skyscraper Technique, you'll search for those on BuzzSumo to see what's out there in terms of competition.
Let's continue using the keyword "SEO copywriting" as our example.
You'll want to analyze recent, up-to-date pages that match your content type and language. To set this up, you can use the filters in the left-hand sidebar, then click "Apply Filters."
As you can see, BuzzSumo lists tons of trending, highly-shared articles related to the topic "SEO copywriting."
According to SEO expert Brian Dean, the number of unique domains linking to an article must exceed 25 to be considered for the Skyscraper Technique.
While taking Brian's advice into account, you can now go on and select content that best matches your audience and expertise.
Here's an example...
Although the word count of this article is only 1,350 words, it was shared over 10K times on social media—which makes an ideal topic to implement the Skyscraper Technique on.
The word count of this article published by Moz is 1,350 and it was shared over 3.2K times on social media. The best part? There are 200 unique domains linking to it. I'm going to designate this as my target article.
Now that you've chosen your target article, you're all set for the second step.
Step #2: Create a Better Version
Your job now is to create a longer, up-to-date, and fluff-free article that will cover more details about your topic than your competitor's post.
Again, I'll be using Moz's article, "SEO for Copywriters: Tips on Measuring SEO Impact - Next Level," as an example.
A. Make your design stand out
In our example, Moz has uploaded what seems to be a general photo of an educational series this SEO copywriting post is a part of.
In your position, you can make a more specific thumbnail photo that will relate directly to our topic.
You can take advantage of websites like Pixabay and Pexels to find royalty-free images, then edit them with free tools like Canva and Pixlr.
Content marketing specialist Rebecca Stickler has recently published a thorough resource at WebpageFX on how web design impacts content marketing. Her blog post has covered many important parts of content design, including formatting, readability and accessibility. Check it out to learn more about how you can make your content look better and stand out.
B. Outnumber your target article's word count
To make your post more detailed, you'll need to write more content than your competitor.
BuzzSumo and Moz both studied links and shares of over one million articles and reported that pages with over 1,000 words continuously receive more shares than shorter pages. Also, a Backlinko study shows that articles with more than 1,890 words tend to rank higher on search engines.
Therefore, for your article to rank well on Google and attract more social shares, you need to make it as long as possible—while not falling into the fluff hole.
The extra words you'll be writing shouldn't be only for the sake of increasing your word count.
Rather, they need to cover information that will set your article apart.
For example, the last section of Moz's article, about reviewing the conversion value of your writers, only contains 118 words. In your article, you can include more detail on this section—which will surely bump up your word count. And there has to be more to say on the subject, right?
Step #3: Spot Influencers Who Have Previously Linked to Articles for the Same Keyword
Compared to the first two steps, finding influencers to promote your article is relatively easy.
Personally, I use SEMRush and BuzzSumo to spot websites that have linked to my competitor's article.
You can do this by simply searching your target article's link and clicking on the option "View Backlinks" in BuzzSumo.
Or you can opt to use SEMRush, search for the target article's link and click "BACKLINKS."
Then, your chosen tool will list all the unique domain names that link to your competitor's article. Below, you'll see the results I got from BuzzSumo:
For Moz's SEO copywriting article, there are 200 websites in the backlinks search results.
To filter websites and ease the process of sending emails to influencers, you'll need to export your results into a spreadsheet. You can do this in BuzzSumo by selecting the CSV option under the "Export Results" section under the drop-down menu "Options."
After you've picked up your target backlinking influencers, you'll need a pitch template and formula.
Step #4: Pitch to Influencers and Follow Up Using the 3-3-7 Formula
To guarantee a considerable success rate for your outreach emails, you'll need to send "tailored" messages to influencers.
One-size-fits-all pitch templates can easily be spotted by influencers—even when they start with their names.
A. Personalize your emails
Your cold emails should always cover personalized information on your influencer's content and include what value you'll provide them and/or your audience if they link to your article.
Art of Emails has recently collected eight email templates for link building requests. You can tweak them and use them for your skyscraper outreach campaign.
Now that you've cold emailed all your target influencers, you'll need to start following up.
B. Follow up
According to a study conducted by the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, 90 percent of replies are sent within a day or two of receiving an email.
Therefore, if you do not get a response to your pitch in two days, you'll probably never get any.
You follow up.
Draft a simple template for a short and sweet follow-up email, and plan to send it out to each contact after a certain period of time has passed without response.
Personally, I follow up on emails using what I call the 3-3-7 formula. This formula consists of following up three times in a two-week range; twice in the first week (every 3 days after your initial pitch) and once in the second week (7 days after your second follow-up.)
If you follow up properly and create a win-win atmosphere in your initial pitch, chances are you'll get 10% to 20% positive response.
Step #5: Monitor Your Progress
Once you've done all this hard work, you're going to want to be able to see the results.
More specifically, you'll want to see how high your skyscraper blog post is ranking in the SERPs and how many backlinks it has received.
Wrapping It Up
If you implement this Skyscraper Technique SEO guide, you can expect to top search engine results in no time.
Yes. It takes hard work to write your skyscraper article and get it out there.
But once you've done it, you'll be way ahead of the competition.