dOeS sKyScRaPeR cOnTeNt StIlL WoRk In 2023?
Skyscraper content is based on a simple fact that you’re going to assess your competition and create better content than them, and that always works.
In fact, I’ll tell you what doesn’t work in 2023:
- Creating poorly-researched content that isn’t going to resonate with your readers.
- Emailing other bloggers, begging for backlinks through broken link building, ego bait, guest post, and other dinosaur strategies that everybody and their brother are trying. (to be frank, some of these can work, but they require years of experience to execute properly.)
High quality backlinks are still an undeniably huge component in ranking your articles.
What’s more? Look at any of your top competitors, and you’ll notice that at least 70% of their backlink profile is “natural”. Meaning, they pulled backlinks to their website through their content, instead of reaching out and actively requesting them.
This is why we use the skyscraper technique extensively in our agency to build stellar content and backlinks for our clients’ websites and rank them.
And now, I’m going to show you how.
What is skyscraper content?
Brian dean, who came up with skyscraper content defines it as content that is a deeply comprehensive and informative resource that becomes the go-to resource for the given topic.
In actionable terms skyscraper content is:
- Content that is pleasurable to read – so your readers are likely to spend more time reading your post, they revisit your website, and lower your bounce rate.
- Content that serves an in-depth and well-researched resource that other bloggers and publishers can leverage as a source of information when they write about a similar subject.
The goal of skyscraper content is to collect backlinks.
However, it is not meant to just be a research paper you float around to get backlinks. Your article will attract most of its backlinks naturally, once it starts ranking, you will still need to take care of the necessary content UI, on-page optimization, etc. To give your content the best chance of ranking.
Now I’m going to show you how to create skyscraper content:
1. Start by finding a relevant a topic or keyword cluster that serves as an effective linkable asset.
This is actually easier than it sounds since you don’t have to do any keyword research. You need only analyze your competitors, and you’ll know what to write about.
Here’s what you do:
[Step 1] list your top 10 competitors
[Step 2] use any seo suite to find their top 10 most linked pages. Skip past homepages and other navigational intent pages. Focus on pages with informational intent. This should give you about 100 pages (10 websites x 10 pages per website)
[Step 3] put these pages together in an excel sheet, and remove pages with very similar topics. The more frequently a topic is appearing, the tougher it’s going to be to create exceptional content for it. We don’t want to make things unnecessarily harder.
[Step 4] now, to identify the best topic, review your list of potential topics and consider which one you can effectively cover with your expertise and thorough research.
2. Conduct a SERP analysis.
Once you’ve identified your topic, it is not always clear how to enhance the pre-existing content out there.
This is where SERP analysis comes in.
To determine how you can improve upon the existing content, run a google search for your topic. Using the serp results, create a table with 10 of the top-ranking articles with informational intent. In your table, fill in the strengths and weaknesses of each article, their word count, and any other notes you have on them.
If there are less than 3 articles with informational intent on the first page, discard and choose a different topic.
Also, keep in mind, you’ll have to search for the intent not the exact title. For example, if the title of your chosen topic is “top 10 benefits of meditation”. You need to search for “meditation benefits” to find the most actionable results.
Now, you’re going to leverage your table to choose a post format, and determine how you can improve upon the pre-existing content put out by your competitors.
3. Choose a post format.
Here are 7 proven blog post templates from Backlinko for reference:
1. Listicle – “Top 25 Must-Try Vegan Recipes for a Healthier You”
2. Beginner’s guide – “A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden.”
3. Case study – “How This Single Mom Started a Successful Online Business in Just 3 Months”
4. Product showdown – “NinjaOutreach vs. Buzzstream: Two Email Automation Softwares Compared”
5. Myth debunker – “10 Common Myths About Meditation”
6. Things to do after x – “10 Things to Do After a Job Interview to Boost Your Chances of Getting Hired”
7. How they did it – “What These 10 Successful Entrepreneurs Can Teach You About Building a Successful Business”
Now that you have your post format ready, you can divide your research based on the sections of the format.
Having a pre-selected post format can cut down your research time by 90% in some cases.
You do not want to research a topic into oblivion and then contemplate a post format.
There is so much information, that you will get overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, and eventually produce a sub-standard article.
It is far easier to narrow down your research to know exactly what you’re looking for.
For example, if your article is about “12 foods to eat to gain lean muscle”, your research will be about 12 individual food items and their effects on muscle growth.
However, if you are writing about, “how high-protein foods impact muscle growth” your research will be about protein synthesis in high protein foods.
Pro tip – while doing your research, keep noting important points under the relevant sub-headings in your content. This will make writing a breeze too.
4. Improve upon the pre-existing content.
Once you have your list of strengths and weaknesses, leverage it to create better and more comprehensive (higher word count) content than your competitors.
Here are some common weaknesses to look out for:
- Lack of original information
- Lack of depth
- Outdated information
- Poor content UI – bad design, poor formatting, hard-to-read typography etc.
- Unclear or confusing
- Boring or un-engaging
7. Lack of actionable advice
To promote your content to the right people, fresh, new information is a must.
In my experience, most articles will regurgitate the same information. If you can leverage primary research to lend new information, that will immediately set you apart.
If you cannot leverage primary research, secondary research with reliable sources works well, but you need to make sure your article is still abundantly comprehensive, more so than your competition.
Other items, like ensuring your content is engaging to read, looks visually appealing, etc., should not even need mentioning.
5. Promote the heck out of it.
Now I know in the beginning of this post, I told you that you won’t have to beg for a backlink, and you don’t.
However, you will still need to get your article in front of people that might want to use it as a source of information.
To do this, check out the websites that are linking back to your competitors’ pages on the topic you’ve written about, and reach out to them.
You don’t have to request them for anything. Just let them know about your new article.
If they are working on any articles that could benefit from the information in your new article, they will check out your content, and potentially link back to it in their own work.
Disclaimer: like all things outreach, the ROI is never too great, but you can at least get some eyeballs to your content, which helps get the ball rolling.
Besides targeted outreach, you can promote your content through:
- Your newsletter
- Socials (reddit, linkedin, IG, etc.)
- Any relevant forums
- Requesting any businesses/influencers you work with to re-share it.
- Creating a video version of your content that directs people to your article, etc.
Email newsletters in particular have been the most effective in my experience.
Why your skyscraper post needs to be longer than your competitors' posts.
The answer is quite simple really.
The additional coverage provides more content for google to index and rank you. The more content you have the higher the number of search queries/keywords you’re going to rank for.
Now, I’m not saying writing 100,000-word posts will get you ranking for all the keywords in your niche.
What you essentially want to do is focus on an individual search intent, and create long-form content around it.
Additionally, longer posts will actually increase engagement and reader attention.
Think of your skyscraper posts as mini books. Your readers are hungry for information, especially if the topic you’re discussing has informational-intent. They want fresh perspectives that have depth.
They actually want more content. They just don’t want boring content. If you believe your writing is engaging, interesting to read, and really resonates with what’s on their mind, don’t shy away from giving it to them.
You basically have the opportunity for storytelling. Which is what will make your content memorable and interesting to read.
Why visuals are important for your skyscraper post.
Visuals can be very effective in making your content more engaging. People are visual learners and seeing pattern breaks in the text also helps them digest the information.
Not to mention, any custom visuals you create are their own linkable assets within the post.
People linking back to your visuals will only add more “link juice” to your skyscraper post and get it to rank higher.
There are times when it is better to avoid littering your post with visuals, but if you add visuals tastefully, they will complement the content.
Creating skyscraper content is not easy because it requires extensive competitor analysis and research. However, this is precisely what makes it so valuable, as there aren’t many others are willing to put in the work.
And, once you create a content piece that is uber-comprehensive, it will dissuade other marketers trying to usurp your ranking.
Finally, there’s no guarantee that skyscraper content will get your article to rank, but it does stack the odds in your favor. We are usually able to get at least 3/5 skyscraper type articles to rank, if I’m being perfectly honest.
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