If you feel like it has become increasingly difficult to capture your audience’s attention and traffic is lagging despite your rigorous content schedule, then you’re not alone. The way audiences consume content and what they want from it continues to change. Audiences are demanding more value, and search engines like Google have no intention of giving your content top billings in the SERPs until that value is proven.
Don’t forget about the growing competition from other brands that are cranking out more content and flooding the already crowded pools of web content in nearly every industry imaginable.
But if your existing content isn’t generating traffic, and repurposing your best stuff isn’t doing much to move the needle, what other option do you have when it feels like your content campaigns are failing?
Before you throw your budget into paid promotions and sponsored posts to gain visibility, you should try the Skyscraper Technique.
What is Skyscraper Content?
The Skyscraper Technique is an approach to creating content for the purpose of producing a large volume of quality backlinks, all organically developed and completely on the level. This system was devised by Brian Dean over at Backlinko and he has shared a few case studies that show just how effective this method is:
While the primary intent is to create backlinks, it’s also a foolproof method for generating a lot of organic traffic within a short span of time.
The major benefit of creating a surge of relevant traffic is that a percentage of those visitors are going to stick around. Also, the content is so well-shared that you’ll generate a ton of new visitors who will continue to return to your site.
So, what makes Skyscraper content much more effective than what you’re already producing?
In this case, you’re sourcing topics that are already pretty popular, including already-published content with a large volume of shares. You take that content and inject as much value as you can to fill in the gaps, creating a more comprehensive and engaging piece.
That high-value content is then promoted out to a very specific audience to maximize its reach within a short time frame. The result is an explosion in referral traffic and massive gains in quality backlinks.
Why Skyscraper Content is So Effective
Think about the last time you had an intense craving for a specific type of food. When you finally got your hands on it, the feeling of satisfaction and relief was overwhelming. You fulfilled an intense demand for something, which impacted you on a psychological – and probably emotional – level.
That’s one of the reasons this technique is so effective. There is already a demand for the type of content or topic. Tens of thousands of people online already indicate interest in the topic by the volume of shares. It’s clearly something they want, and if they already love it that much, imagine how satisfying it would be to get even more valuable content on the same topic.
This is the other reason why the Skyscraper Technique is so effective for racking up traffic. Rather than guessing what might work with your audience, you already know what they want. They have been primed and in turn, they’ve shown their cards.
You know exactly what is going to excite them, so it should be easy to create something that will blow them away.
Lastly, because of how well the original content was shared, you know that by creating something better, you will be able to target key publications among the distribution channels and audience to get massive exposure.
The more shares you get, the greater that spike in organic traffic and backlinks will be.
Creating Awesome Skyscraper Content
Producing top-notch content that delivers the kind of results seen in Backlinko’s case studies might seem like a deeply-involved process. However, it doesn’t take much more time than you might otherwise spend creating content from scratch.
In one case study, Brian revealed that it only took about six hours to create a single piece of content that produced over 17,000 visitors in one day.
There’s a simple formula to follow to make this technique work for you:
1. Source the Best Content Opportunities
There are several ways to find hot topics that your audience is searching for, and some of these ways require a little more legwork than others.
- Watch the communities: Tune into larger, more popular groups and forums where your customers spend their time, including relevant subreddits on Reddit.com. Find the most upvoted content or the top discussions. Watch for articles that are heavily shared and transform the hottest discussions into content ideas for your site.
- Check aggregate sites: Sites like Alltop not only list what’s new from major publications, but they also show you the most popular stories that are trending or featured within any given industry.
- Watch competitors: Keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing, especially the well-entrenched incumbents. Doing this will make it easier to pinpoint when some of their content gets picked up and carried by followers.
- Use BuzzSumo: This is the easiest method to source the top content of all time for any given topic. Plug in your search term and BuzzSumo will return a list of articles ranked by the volume of shares.
2. Create a Distribution Plan
Every content strategy needs a distribution plan. Even the best content won’t perform if it’s not promoted effectively. The first step is to build your foundation on who shared the original content.
In BuzzSumo, you can view the backlinks and sharers then make a list of the most prominent and influential people and publications. That’s who you’ll target with your promotions.
Also, consider what other channels you can use to promote your content. These could vary based on the format of your content, but be sure to check out LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, SlideShare, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and targeted communities where your audience spends their time.
3. Build a Better Mousetrap
The approach is quite simple here: take the original content and find ways to make it better. You don’t want to copy it, but you certainly want to take a topic that people loved and reproduce it in a way that is 10x better than the original:
- Give it a new angle
- Update statistics and data
- Flesh it out to add more value
- Improve the visuals
- Fill in any gaps to make it a more comprehensive piece
Alternatively, you could produce something better in a different format than the original. For example, take a short podcast or infographic and create an amazing, in-depth blog post on a similar topic.
4. Publish and Start Promoting
Once your content is live, it’s time to gain momentum. Reach out to those who shared the original on social media and tip them off to your new-and-improved content.
For publications that linked to the original, connect with their editors and show genuine interest in providing value to their audiences. Share your content with them and be clear about what you’re asking. Don’t be afraid to ask them to share it.
The keystone of the Skyscraper Technique is value, so make sure you’ve created a truly comprehensive piece with takeaways that align with the audience of the original. Through targeted outreach and expanded distribution to new channels, you should see a sharp increase in traffic and backlinks for your Skyscraper content.
Then continue to replicate the process for other great content you already created to expand your audience and visibility.
Have you used the Skyscraper Technique for building traffic and links? Share your results with me in the comments below.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!