Here’s the brutal truth about link building:
There are WAY too many people in internet marketing today that think “great content” is enough.
They say, “if I publish great stuff, people will naturally link to me”.
If only it were that easy…
If you’re serious about generating high quality links, you need to be very systematic with how you create and promote your content.
Otherwise you’re taking the “cooked spaghetti approach”: throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall and hoping something sticks.
Well today I’m going to show you a technique that almost guarantees that you get high quality links from every piece of content that you publish.
Keep reading to learn how…
The Skyscraper Technique: (Content Marketing for Link Builders)
On April 18th I published Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List.
After executing “The Skyscraper Technique“, the number of backlinks to that page shot up like a rocket:
More importantly, organic search traffic to my entire site — not just that post — doubled in just 14 days:
As a nice bonus, that single post has driven more than 1900 referral visitors to my site so far.
The best part?
You can do the same thing for your site…even if you don’t have a Fortune 500 marketing budget or connections with influential bloggers.
The 3-Steps to Using “The Skyscraper Technique” To Get Quality Links and Targeted Traffic
There are 3 basic steps to The Skyscraper Technique:
Step 1: Find link-worthy content
Step 2: Make something even better
Step 3: Reach out to the right people
Here’s why this technique works so well (and what it has to do with a skyscraper):
Have you ever walked by a really tall building and said to yourself:
“Wow, that’s amazing! I wonder how big the 8th tallest building in the world is.”
Of course not.
It’s human nature to be attracted to the best.
And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest “skyscraper” in your space…and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.
All of a sudden YOU have the content that everyone wants to talk about (and link to).
Step #1: Find Proven Linkable Assets
A linkable asset is the foundation of any successful link-focused content marketing campaign (including this one).
I’m not sure who coined the phrase “linkable asset”, but it’s the perfect description of what you want to create: a high-value page that you can leverage for links over and over again.
Keep in mind that linkable asset is not “12 Things Spider Man Taught Me About Social Media Marketing” link bait nonsense.
It’s content so awesome, so incredible, and so useful that people can’t help but login to their WordPress dashboard and add a link to your site.
But how can you possibly know if your linkable asset is going to be a huge success…or a total flop?
That’s easy: find content that’s already generated a ton of links.
OSE Top Pages
One of the fastest ways to find content with a track record of attracting quality links is to use Open Site Explorer.
1. First, find a site that tends to generate tons of links from their content. Put their site into OSE:
2. Click on the “Top Pages” tab:
3. And look for content with at least 100 linking root domains
Topsy is an awesome site that can help you find heavily shared content in your niche.
1. First, enter a keyword related to your niche:
2. Choose “All Time”:
And you’ll have a solid list of proven, link-magnet content:
Another strategy is to look for articles that already rank for competitive keywords.
If they’re ranking for tough terms then they probably have a lot of links pointing at them:
Just pop each of these into your link analysis tool of choice and see which ones have links from at least 100 referring domains.
In my case, I stumbled upon a few people that had tried (and failed) to compile all of Google’s 200 ranking factors.
These articles earned hundreds of high quality links…even though they fell short of the 200 mark.
For example, here’s the link profile for the page ranking #1 for “Google Ranking Factors”:
When I saw that articles that didn’t even list all 200 ranking factors generated links like this, I realized I that had a golden opportunity sitting in my lap.
Which brings us to step 2…
Step #2: Make Something Even Better
Your next step is to take what’s out there and blow it out of the water.
Here’s how you can take existing content to the next level:
Make It Longer
In some cases, publishing an article that’s simply longer or includes more items
will do the trick.
If you find a link magnet with a title like “50 Healthy Snack Ideas”, publish a list of 150 (or even 500).
In my case, I decided to list all 200 ranking factors…or die trying.
The first 50 were a breeze. 50-100 were really hard. 100-150 were really, really hard. And 150-200 were damn near impossible.
It took 10 gallons of coffee and 20-hours of sitting in front of my laptop (don’t worry, I took bathroom breaks)…
…but in the end, I had something that was clearly better than anything else out there.
If you can take an out of date piece of content and spruce it up, you’ve got yourself a winner.
For example, most of the other ranking factor lists were sorely outdated and lacked important ranking factors, like social signals:
If you find something with old information, create something that covers many of the same points…but update it with cutting-edge content.
Sometimes, a visually stunning piece of content can generate a lot more links and social shares than something similar on an ugly page.
Just check out Help Scout’s Customer Acquisition Strategies for Entrepreneurs:
This guide is a curated list of links to other internet marketing sites.
And the page has generated a lot of buzz because it’s beautifully designed.
Most lists posts are just a bland list of bullet points without any meaty content that people can actually use.
But if you add a bit of depth for each item on your list, you have yourself a list post that’s MUCH more valuable.
In my case I noticed that the other ranking factor lists lacked references and detail:
So I made sure each and every point on my list had a brief description (with a reference).
Important Note: I recommend that you beat the existing content on every level: length, design, current information etc.
This will make it objectively clear that YOU have the better piece of content.
Which is really important when you start getting the word out…
Step #3: Reach Out to The Right People
Email outreach is the linchpin of the Skyscraper Technique.
It’s similar to straight up link begging, but with a VERY important twist.
Instead of emailing random people, you’re reaching out to site owners that have already linked out to similar content.
When you qualify prospects like this, you know that:
1. They run a site in your niche.
2. They’re interested in your topic.
3. They’ve already linked to an article on that topic.
Now it’s just a matter of giving them a friendly heads up about your clearly superior content.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Use ahrefs.com (aff) to export all of the links pointing to your competitor’s content into a spreadsheet. Tools like Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer will also work.
2. Weed out referring pages that don’t make sense to contact (forums, article directories etc.). In my case, after cleaning up the list, I had 160 very solid prospects from a single article.
3. I emailed all 160 of them using this template:
Even I was shocked at the overwhelmingly positive response:
Out of 160 emails I landed 17 links: an 11% success rate.
Considering that these were cold emails that asked for a link in the first email, an 11% success rate is pretty amazing.
You may be thinking, “17 links, that’s it?”.
But remember it’s about quality, not quantity.
There were a lot of gems in that group of 17 links, including a link from a DMOZ listed site on a PR5 page.
Besides, just look at the meteoric rise in organic traffic that those 17 links got me (in a very short time period, no less).
Obviously there were a few links to that page that came organically, but some of the best were from The Skyscraper Technique.
Now You Try It
I hope you can see the potential of The Skyscraper Technique for your site and your business.
Yes, it takes hard work to create something great.
But with this strategy you already know ahead of time that your hard work is going to pay off (unlike pumping out reams of content hoping that something goes viral).
I want you to give the technique a try and let me know how it works for you.
If you have a question or thought, leave a comment below and I’ll get right to it.